Thursday, June 23 2022

Why public speaking opens up a world of opportunity

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It’s no secret that powerful public speaking skills advance your career and can take you far in life. But the big question is how to develop these skills enough to improve your value by 50%, as US billionaire investor Warren Buffett put it.

Let me introduce you to my proven framework that gives you the tools you need to become a master of public speaking. I have coached teams and executives using this method, with good results.

This framework examines public speaking from three angles. First, the content of your message. Number two, your delivery. And number three, the different speaking formats.

Let’s take them apart, starting with the content.

I always like to say that content is the essence of communication. If you aspire to be a great speaker, you need to deliver great content. Therefore, your first train of thought should be given to the audience and how your content can provide value. Unfortunately, in the professional world, as well as in politics, one often finds speakers who only focus on their messages rather than the audience.

Your second thought should be about how to structure your content. Structure is what is often missing in a speech, making it difficult for the audience to digest your content. A simple structure – like opening, body, conclusion – can make your content much more effective and engaging.

After the first two steps, it’s time to edit and refine your work, to make your message as impactful as possible. This is where techniques like storytelling, analogies, repetitive phrases, and other rhetorical devices can add a wow factor to your message.

Once you’ve created engaging content, it’s a good time to look at visual aids such as slideshows, videos, and images that add clarity and excitement to your presentation.

After you’ve assembled a piece you’re proud of, it’s time to look at your delivery. The reality is that many professionals have never been trained to give a speech, although being in front of an audience is not an easy task for everyone.

Nevertheless, you can develop a confident and authentic delivery.

First, you need to be aware of what I call your communication superpowers – each person has a unique set of skills and experience that you need to use in your speech. It can be a tough business, but great things happen when you step out of your comfort zone.

Once you’ve developed an authentic public speaking personality, it’s time to further enhance your delivery by showing your passion for the subject, mastering voice modulation and developing confident body language. Remember, public speaking is amplified conversation, and good conversation requires a strong connection with your audience.

After mastering the two main parts of the framework – content and delivery – the missing piece is to study the finer details of each presentation. It’s about understanding the complexities of speaking on stage to a large audience. It’s about how to hold a microphone, how to prepare visuals for the big screen, how to speak on camera and connect with a virtual audience in the hybrid format that is common in a post-COVID-19 world.

Public speaking comes in many varieties, from speeches to panel discussions, team briefings to client presentations, workshops to celebrations and many other occasions. Studying your speaking format sets you up for success.

Learning to become a great public speaker is an incredible adventure. As your knowledge and skills increase, you will be able to tell why other speakers are good and why others fail. This information will help you grow as a communicator.

It goes without saying that mastering a skill takes time to practice, which often discourages people from becoming the speaker they could be.

However, no matter how much time, effort, and money you need to invest, becoming a qualified speaker is a life-changing experience. Every engagement you undertake will allow you to showcase your business, inspire others and, most importantly, show the world who you really are.

• Flo Akinbiyi is a presenter, speaker and communication coach.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News

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