Tuesday, January 11 2022

Many leaders are also great public speakers, and that shouldn’t be surprising. To be successful, leaders must be able to convey ideas clearly and with confidence. But an executive, Vice President Kamala Harris, took on the additional role of public speaking coach on several occasions, offering specific and consistent advice to very different constituents.

Here are two of the most publicized moments:

In April 2021, during the veep’s visit at the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, technician Jeff Bird was supposed to give him a brief speech to the media. But moments after Bird started, he stopped dead, confused and lost in his words, even though he had his whole speech written on cards in his hands.

– Excuse me, he said, embarrassed. “I’m just very nervous.”

Vice President Harris led him from afar. “We need to know what you know, so tell us, because we don’t know what you know,” she said. “You are teaching right now. “

While Bird was still stammering, the Vice President approached him. Pointing to reporters and cameras, she said, “All of these guys, they may or may not understand what you are doing, but they have to understand what you are doing because what you do is so important. You are building our country. . . so teach them what you know, because they don’t know, and they need to understand it.

Bird finally finished his speech and thanked her.

Two years earlier, Harris proposed advice to a group of young women during a campaign stop in New Hampshire when asked how she had become so comfortable speaking in public.

“When you get up to talk, remember it’s not about you,” she said. “The most important thing is that everyone knows what you know because they need to know what you know. When you are giving your speech, you know something that you need to share with the people they need to know.

His advice comes down to this: realize that, first, you know something that your audience doesn’t know but needs to know; and second, it’s your job to share it with them.

As a public speaking coach for over 15 years, I find this advice very practical and effective for all speakers, as well as for the adult professional and the young schoolgirl; and here’s why:

It’s not about you

When you are giving a speech, the occasion is not a test of your personality, your appearance, or even your abilities. In most contexts, giving a speech is not at all about you. It’s about your point of view and moving that point effectively from your head to that of your audience.

Knowing this, speakers should feel less nervous and judged, as the focus shifts from person to lens. The goal is not to be perfect or even to perform; the point is simply to present.

This is what they need to know

Too many speakers start with the question “What is I mean? ”That’s the wrong question because it doesn’t begin to consider the real purpose of public speaking: not only to speak out loud, but to impact an audience. To engage and inspire an audience, the correct question is: “What is they or they want and need to know?

Once you’ve identified and connected what your audience needs to hear (“what they don’t know”) with the unique knowledge or intuition you have (“what you know”), your speech essentially writes itself.

Whether you are a business leader, public servant, intern, or student, the keys to confident and competent public speaking are exactly what Vice President Harris said: “Teach them what you know because” they do not know and to understand it.

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