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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 April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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