Public speaking. It’s not something many get excited about. In fact, it’s routinely ranked ahead of death.
Yet, public speaking is a required skill for every ambitious professional out there. Regardless of your current job, as you progress through your career, being articulate becomes a crucial success factor.
When done right, delivering a speech and/or presentation increases your visibility with people who count. It’s an unparalleled way to stand out and impress leaders (and establish yourself as one too).
So how do you move from public speaking paralysis to a grin-and-bear-it attitude, to a downright legendary public speaker?
There’s plenty of generic advice and “how-to’s” out there. So, let’s spice things up a little and see what tips PAID public speakers to have up their sleeves.
Public Speaking Tips from Simon Sinek
Let’s start with public speaking black belt Simon Sinek.
For those who haven’t heard of him, Sinek is the best-selling author of "Start With Why", his TED Talk has been viewed over 12 million times, and his website is full of videos that have gone Internet viral. So what public speaking tips does Sinek have under his belt?
1. Don’t talk straight away:
“A lot of people start talking right away, and it’s out of nerves,” says Sinek. Those nerves just love to chat. But talking as you walk out (be it on stage or in the presentation room) is a big no-go for Sinek.
So, try out Sinek’s public speaking trick: take a deep breath, hold your tongue, find your place, and only then may you begin. It might feel excruciating but it’s how audiences can tell that you’re confident and in control.
2. Be a speaker that gives, not takes:
Sinek always makes sure he is adding value for his audience. He says that there are plenty of people out there who give presentations to sell (be it a product or idea).
“Even at a distance… audiences can tell whether you’re a giver or a taker. And people are more likely to trust a giver”. And this is important because (good) communication is synonymous with trust.
So make sure you add value for audiences when presenting, be it teaching something new or telling an inspiring story. That way, audiences will more openly accept what you’re communicating.
3. Channel nerves into excitement:
If you have a fear of public speaking, have no fear! Sinek uses his nerves for good, not evil. Sinek turns them into more constructive allies.
He’s a big fan of harnessing the power of the mind to redefine the experience. As in: “YES, it’s presentation day, I can’t wait, this is going to be amazing, oooh excited nerves… even more amazing!”
Turn nervous energy into public speaking fuel! And in turn, your audience will reinterpret them as nerves of excitement. Public speaking life hack.
Public Speaking Tips from Barbara Corcoran
The millionaire celebrity investor and serial entrepreneur is known for her intense, candid confidence and charismatic shine in Shark Tank. Just watch her on many a conference keynote or lecture and you can see just how smooth Corcoran is in the art of elocution.
But believe it or not, Corcoran used to be petrified of public speaking. So, she definitely has a few hot tips for those in the same boat.
1. Force yourself to do it, constantly:
"You can practice in front of your work peers or in front of friends or family. It makes very little difference. You need to find some way to practice a lot in front of somebody.”
To get over her public speaking fears, Corcoran “signed up to teach real estate at night, several nights a week” so she would constantly be in front of a classroom speaking to a group of people staring at her.
Corcoran’s main advice for those with a fear of public speaking is to face it head-on. Make it a part of your day-to-day and the more you do it, the more comfortable and second nature it will feel.
2. Tell the audience you’re scared:
This may seem counter-intuitive, but Corcoran says this public speaking trick “worked wonders” for years. Whenever she fumbled or got stuck with words, she made a quick turn around by letting the audience know she was scared.
“When I told people how I really felt up there… the audience instantly came over to my side. Let people see you stumble. They love it.” So, use this tip to your advantage. It’s a great recovery from any presentation hiccups. Ironically, it’s also a great way to lessen your public speaking nerves.
Public Speaking Tips from Brian Tracy
For over 30 years, Brian Tracy has made a name for himself as a prolific public speaker. The motivational speaker and self-development author has plenty of tips up his sleeve when it comes to the public speaking side of life.
1. Record and learn your voice:
If there’s something worse than public speaking, it may be listening to your own voice, right? Well, Tracy is a fan of diving straight into the deep end.
While most people are busy getting the presentation business out of the way, Tracy watches it again and again. “Record yourself giving the talk from beginning to end. Then listen to or watch it and make notes on how you can make it better”.
Get used to your own voice and speaking style. See how you can improve your delivery to grab audience attention. Recording yourself is the best way to improve your public speaking performance. It’s how you gauge whether you’re communicating well. After all, you are your own worst audience.
2. Lightly exercise before speaking:
“This little trick is one of my favourite speaking tips”. Tracy is a big fan of exercising before public speaking to increase blood flow to the brain, relieve stress and boost serotonin (happiness) levels. Key ingredients for any public speaking stint!
Practice may seem like a generic public speaking tip, but it just can’t be underestimated, folks. “The only way to learn to speak is to… speak, and speak, and speak, and speak, and speak.” So, practice boosting your public speaking abilities!
When it comes to communication skills Tracy is a fan of the practice makes perfect mantra. For communicating eloquently, AND for preparing what you’re going to communicate. The more you practice the how and the what of your presentation, the more it becomes second nature.
If you truly want to progress through and boost your career, you’re going to have to bite the bullet. Public speaking is an inevitable fact of success in life. So, take charge of your professional development and learn from the wisdom of these oratory masters. Then learn to speak like one!