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For HR professionals, public speaking can be a key component of your job. The art of being able to deliver effectively to your audience, clearly and precisely; developing a unique and authentic way to capture your audience, is the essence of public speaking. The way you establish yourself as a public speaker in your respective field will require engagement from your audience and to successfully deliver your words in an encapsulating way. Sounds easy right? Wrong. Even the most experienced public speakers will at some point hit a road block when traveling along “Public Speaking Avenue”.
In HR, the capacity of those who you present to can range from a small department-based group to hundreds of people from all over an organisation - especially if the room you are talking to did not come there by choice. As Scott Berkun* says in his webcast, when speaking on delivering to a ‘tough’ audience “there is always a way to focus on audiences perspective – it’s just a question of working to find it”. Still, this concept of public speaking sounds easier said than done!
But alas, it’s not all doom and gloom and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With a few techniques and strategies, your public speaking ‘chakra’ could be realigned and public speaking could really become your forté.
We’ve all been given bits of advice over the years to ease the fear of public speaking; like ‘picture your audience naked’ type of scenario. But unless you want to be completely disillusioned and disengaged with what your saying, please don’t. Instead, visualise your speech, feel your feet grounded in the earth like roots. You are the tree, the roots are the foundation for your speech and the branches are your delivery – a little bit idealistic for some of you I’d say, but this visualisation technique can be highly effective.
As Eileen Sinett, author of “Speaking That Connects” outlines, with the right amount of thinking, doing, and being, you’ll be able to better connect with your audience and be successful.
You may have done your research and written screeds of information that you believe is essential to your audience. However, if you don’t know what you want to say then your audience won’t know either.. Regurgitating information that anyone could recite will not add value to your reputation. In Matt Charneys recent blog he says, “if you can bring real insights and experience, even if it’s anecdotal to your presentations, then you’re already a step ahead”. Audiences will remember what they hear first, so don’t bomb and tell a joke. Instead, ask a question or tell a story and ease your way into your speech.
Using visual aids in public speaking can either be beneficial to your delivery; or can be to your detriment - depending on how well they are used. The key is whether the visuals you are explaining will add value to your audience or detract the message you want to convey. Make sure you don’t rely solely on these visual aids to support you through your delivery.
At the end of the day, the old saying, ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is so true. If you’re not a confident speaker and struggle to think on your feet, don’t try and ‘wing’ it. Practice your speech! Practice well before the date of the event or meeting; practice with your peers and colleagues, an empty hall even. The most polished public speakers will always practice their speech before getting in front of an audience. We proofread proposals don’t we? It’s never a good idea to send in something without reading the first draft!
Mostly importantly pause. A full stop and a comma are there for a reason. They’re breathing spaces for you to pause at. This is a perfect opportunity to take a breath and gather your thoughts.
Toastmasters or an online based Dale Carnegie course can be a beneficial investment for your public speaking skills in the long term. Not only can this assist in your professional life but in your personal and community life too.
We all at some point will do some form of public speaking so why not enjoy it – don’t be the victim of bad public speaking!