The current coronavirus crisis has confined many of us to our homes and created a lot of uncertainty in our lives. But there’s one thing I’m sure it will eventually pass and you’ll be back there building your career, pitching your idea, or starting a business.
Take this opportunity now to develop a foundational skill you’ll need to stand out in the workplace: Public Speaking. Why speak in public? Because Warren Buffett says it’s the only skill you can develop today that will increase your worth by 50%, and you can do it from home.
1. Watch one TED talk per day.
Set aside 18 minutes a day to watch a TED talk. With tens of thousands of TED and TEDx talks presented over the years, the TED.com website is your source for education.
While most people watch TED talks for the content, I suggest that you watch the presentation style as well. After all, many TED speakers – especially the speakers at the annual TED conference in Vancouver – work with coaches. You can see the result of this preparation.
One thing to look for is what TED calls the “hot line”. When a speaker first meets a TED Coach, they are often disjointed and there is no clear connection between the examples or statistics of their presentations. They are taught to find a guideline or the main point of the presentation. Focus on an idea and connect the examples, stories, and statistics to it.
You can easily spot the guideline in some of these popular threads:
Don’t go for a walk. Focus on a clear idea.
Allow some time to go to a quiet room, set up your smartphone (it’s also worth investing in a small tabletop tripod for this exercise), and press Record. Now make your presentation. See the video. You will notice a number of awkward habits that you are simply not aware of. Eliminate habits such as:
- Touch your face
- Playing with your hair
- Reading your notes or slides
- Use too many filler words such as “uh”, “uh” and “ah”
Very few people check in practicing a presentation. You will stand out using this trick.
3. Practice in front of family and pets.
Many people suffer from different levels of nerves. You’re not alone. We are programmed to feel anxious when speaking in front of people. Here’s the good news: Stage fright can be managed. But it takes practice. Start with small steps, speaking in front of people you are comfortable with.
4. Read books on communication skills.
Although I have written 10 books on leadership, entrepreneurship, and communication, there are many good books by other authors that I have in my permanent library. Some of my favorites include:
- Data history by Nancy Duarte. In this new book, presentation design specialist Nancy Duarte explains in visual form how to turn data into compelling stories.
- If I understood you, would I have that look on my face? by Alan Alda. A lot of people don’t know that actor Alan Alda founded a science communication center at Stony Brook University. He is a remarkable storyteller who understands the value of simple, clear, and impactful public speaking.
- It’s marketing by Seth Godin. Although “marketing” is in the title, it is a book about effective communication. In Godin’s definition, marketing is the act of causing change, such as changing your mind. And you can’t change your mind without honing your communication skills.
Public speaking skills will set you apart. Take this time to hone these skills before you return to the office.