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15 Ultra Practical Skills That Can Make You A Brilliant Public Speaker

15 Ultra Practical Skills That Can Make You A Brilliant Public Speaker

Many of us are now required to make presentations. Whether it is for an interview or simply for a staff meeting, most of us at some point will have to stand in front of a crowd and face that fear of public speaking. While public speaking comes naturally to some, most people dread that moment when they become the focal point in a room. Some of us finally master the craft through years of practice, some are still fighting to find that comfort level.

No matter where you find yourself in the spectrum, the following fifteen ultra practical skills will definitely help you become a brilliant public speaker:

1. Research your audience

Knowing who you will be addressing will help you prepare your mindset accordingly and help you feel more comfortable.

2. Know your environment

Find out about where your presentation will take place. If possible, familiarize yourself with the place ahead of time. Make notes of the little things: “Will there be a podium?” or “Is there a projector?” Also, be mindful of key elements of the atmosphere, such as the noise level and lighting.

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3. Prepare

While for some, it might seem redundant to point this out, it is important that you prepare for your presentation, regardless of how familiar you may be with the topic of discussion. Create an outline for yourself, to help keep you on track.

4. Practice

Again, it does not matter how familiar you are with the topic, practice your speech at least once. This will give you a chance to plan your pauses, which will keep you from sounding like you’re reading from a prompter.

5. Practice articulation

One important part of your practice should revolve around articulation. Focus on words that are difficult to pronounce and/or have varied pronunciations. There is nothing worst than a public speaker who does not enunciate.

6. Use tools

For those of us who are very nervous, this is especially helpful. Whether it is an index card to keep your thoughts organized, or a clicker to control your slide presentation, tools will help you stay on track.

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7. Dress to impress

This may not seem like an important tip to most, but one of the easiest ways to boost your confidence is by ensuring that you dress to impress. As a public speaker, you will be the center of attention in the room for a long period of time, which will undeniably give your audience an opportunity to examine every aspect that you present – including your wardrobe. Be sure to dress appropriate to the event and pay attention to the small details in your wardrobe.

8. Walk

The last thing you want to do is stand in front of your audience like a stiff board. Walk and move around, it will not only relax you but it will also keep your audience more engaged.

9. Breathe

Another important part of your speech is to remember to breathe. This will allow for you to sound more natural and also take breaks at appropriate times. Your audience will be able to connect better with you if you sound like you are having a regular conversation, rather than bombarding them with information without taking the time to breathe.

10. Avoid filler words

Filler words such as “um” or “so” can be extremely detrimental to a public speaker. When overused, your audience will start focusing more on how many times you’ve used them versus the message that you are conveying. Furthermore, you will sound less confident using all of these fillers.

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11. Partner up

One of the best ways to help you feel comfortable as a public speaker is by finding an opportunity to partner up with a colleague or friend for your presentation. You will have someone to help you move the presentation along, as well as answer questions from the audience.

12. Encourage questions

While you do not have to take tons of them, questions from your audience may present an opportunity for you to further develop on a concept that you mentioned during your presentation.

13. Ask for feedback

It may not be the easiest thing to read feedback, but it is the only way that you will learn what you should do differently. You can choose to provide your audience with an anonymous evaluation form to complete. You can also simply ask a couple of friends to observe your presentation and provide you with their feedback.

14. Take a course

Taking a course with some tips to develop your skills as a public speaker can only help you better prepare for your future presentations. Be sure to put the notions into practice in order to see the results.

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15. Get experience

Even if your first public speaking experience was disastrous, still look for an opportunity to do another. With every opportunity comes new experience. Soon enough, you will learn how to repeat the good and avoid the bad.

Conclusion

Most of us are not born with the natural talent to be able to charm an audience as a public speaker; however, these skills will help anyone reach that point where the thought of public speaking no longer send them in a panic.

Featured photo credit: Confident Asian businesswoman standing in front of coworkers/pitbull2013 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 23, 2020

6 Qualities of a Charismatic Leader

6 Qualities of a Charismatic Leader

We all know a person with a charismatic personality when we see one. They seem to radiate a certain magnetism that turns heads when they speak. They know how to command attention with not just their words, but the cadence of their voice and their body language. From celebrities to titans of industry and world leaders, charismatic people just have a certain something that draws others in.

For a long time, conventional wisdom held onto the belief that you were either born with charisma or you weren’t. Psychologists believe that charisma is a mix of nature and nurture.[1] Yes, some people are simply hardwired with more of a charismatic personality than others. The good news though is that, yes, you can learn to be more charismatic and develop the qualities of a charismatic leader.

Before we jump into what those qualities are exactly, it would help to define first what exactly charisma is.

The word is derived from Greek and means “divine gift.” (Admittedly, that doesn’t sound like something that can be learned, but let’s hold out hope.)

Charisma is steeped in a certain amount of mystery, but to boil it down, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure.”

It’s easy to see how “a personal magic of leadership” could be so appealing for a leader and give them a cutting edge over the competition. Having that certain “It” factor might come more innately for some than others, but all successful leaders have at least some of it—even if they learned it along the way.

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Here are the characteristics of a charismatic personality and why they’re so beneficial.

1. Adaptability

Psychology professor William von Hippel, from the University of Queensland in Australia, believes that adaptability is the number one trait that all charismatic leaders possess.

“There are clearly many qualities that enable people to be socially successful, but the fact that what works in one situation often does not work in another suggests that behavioral flexibility may be the single most important attribute for social functioning.”[2]

-von Hippel

There’s nothing charismatic about sulking when plans don’t work out exactly as expected. Instead, charismatic leaders find a way to make lemonade with the lemons they’ve been given.

This adaptability was further broken down by von Hippel into several offshoots of adaptability:

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  • Being quick-witted
  • Knowing how to handle subtle changes
  • Staying cool amid distraction

According to von Hippel, charismatic people may not always know the right answer to a tough question, but they can come up with alternative answers and choose the one that best works for the situation. They’re also in tune with what’s going on around them in a situation and can quickly modify their behavior to subtle changes to handle any conflicts that may have arisen.

Moreover, charismatic leaders are cool as cucumbers—or at least project that confidence—regardless of whatever distractions there may be. It’s this sort of adaptability that allows them to close business deals and push ahead, even when things don’t go according to plan.

2. Confidence

Trust is one of the most important things for leaders to establish with their teams. When a leader is confident and not afraid to take a bold stance, it allows others to relax a little bit and stand behind that leader because they trust them. Charismatic leaders exude confidence almost without falter.

When it’s a celebrity like Bono or Lady Gaga, they call this confidence swagger as it allows them to strut across the stage like they haven’t got a sliver of self-doubt in them. They have a certain confidence about them that can be felt throughout an entire arena.

Showing confidence isn’t always easy, but it can certainly be learned and is paramount for success. Confident leaders are always going to be those who see the glass as half-full, and this sort of optimism can be a powerful motivating tool for those they lead.

3. Vision

Charismatic leaders may have a respect for the past, but they’re not going to be stuck in it. They have a mindset for innovation and are almost always looking for ways of how things could be better. It’s this sort of forward-thinking that made somebody like Martin Luther King Jr. such a charismatic leader. He had a clear vision that he was passionate about and knew how to communicate it (more on that in a second).

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Charismatic leaders have clearly defined goals that they’re looking to achieve and combined with confidence, that can be incredibly intoxicating to people. Next to adaptability, this may be the second most important quality of a charismatic leader, and how they go about sharing their vision often results in a strong emotional response from those listening.

4. Determination

If the vision is the far off summit on the horizon, determination is that drive that keeps charismatic leaders pushing forward. If that vision is ever going to be achieved, then milestones will have to be accomplished along the way.

Take Amazon’s vision of having a zero carbon footprint by 2040, for example. To make that happen, Jeff Bezos and his team are going to need unwavering determination and hit certain goals at certain points in this timeline.

Determined leaders don’t give up when they hit roadblocks. Instead, they put their head down, adapt, and push forward. This drive to keep pushing ahead can trickle down and motivate those they’re leading to work harder at accomplishing whatever the collective goal might be.

5. Clear Communication

There’s a reason why crowds will show up in droves to hear a politician speak—the most captivating politicians know how to communicate their vision effectively in a clear manner. Those with an especially charismatic personality often have strong beliefs and can be incredibly persuasive both with their words and body language. To put it rather simply—they’re good storytellers.

Charismatic leaders draw listeners in with good posture, eye contact, and hand gestures that work to help connect their words to the audience. They articulate their words to help convey their vision and deliver their message with the same confidence, whether they’re speaking to a single individual or an audience of 10,000 people.

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This sort of clear communication is key for the formulation of new goals and in gaining the trust of those around them to follow.

6. Creativity

The economy is changing faster than ever before, and you don’t have to look very far to realize how creativity and adaptability will drive the successes of tomorrow. So, what’s this have to do with charisma?

Well, charismatic people tend to think outside the box and look for new ways of doing things. This, of course, ties into having a passion and a vision. Not only do charismatic thinkers tend to be creative people, but they also challenge the status quo and take risks to make those visions a reality.

The best managers not only think outside the box but also encourage those around them to tap into their creativity and look for better ways of doing things. A charismatic leader rises to meet the challenges that face them and view problems as opportunities for innovation.

To put into perspective just how important this quality is, a global survey of more than 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries found creativity was the most sought after attribute in a leader.[3] When leaders show that they have a creative spirit, they come across as incredibly charismatic and inspire others to follow that creative lead as well.

In Conclusion

The most charismatic leaders don’t just have a vision and know-how to effectively communicate it—they know how to adapt to the sudden changes thrown their way and still be persuasive and motivating.

The truth is, some people may be born with a little more natural charisma than others. Make no mistake about it, though—the traits of a charismatic leader can all be learned and developed.

More Tips on How to Develop a Charismatic Personality

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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