“I want to be the very best, like no one ever was…”
These are the opening lines to the kids’ cartoon, Pokémon. You may not have opened this post to read about a land of mythical monsters (becoming a public speaker isn’t that bad), but the motivation expressed in these lines applies to your journey to becoming not only a public speaker, but the greatest public speaker.
Now, I must admit that I share, not as one who has already attained greatness, but as one who is on the journey to becoming a better public speaker and, one day, a great speaker. So, I am sharing the tips I have learned through my experience, and the techniques that I continue to practice.
Welcome to the journey!
Have a special message to deliver to the audience
There are two key words here: special and audience. Almost anyone can speak and deliver a message. It’s critical to frame that message in a unique way and present it in a manner that defines you as the public speaker. Find your message, find a way to make it special, and you will be well on your way to becoming the greatest public speaker possible.
Know the target audience
You have a special message. That’s fantastic! Now, you must be aware of who is receiving that message. It is important to understand what the audience needs and wants to hear. Teaching kindergartners about Calculus, no matter how special the message may be, will not have the desired effect as if the same message was given to the correct audience, although I know of college students who much rather enjoy playing with blocks and finger painting.
While studying your target audience, be sure to research any cultural norms that exist in the area, or demographic, where you speak. Acknowledging and incorporating or excluding some discussion points from your message can accentuate how receptive your audience is to your message.
Work on your public speaking skills
There are many opportunities available to participate in programs or courses that allow you to work on your public speaking skills. Toastmasters is an example of an organization founded to help people improve in the areas of public speaking and leadership, through structured learning and practice. There are many programs online, free trial or paid, that offer wonderful ways to learn more about the business of becoming a public speaker. There are training conferences, seminars, and college courses galore! Get out and do the research!
Know the types of speakers/speeches
Just as there are many colors of crayons, there are many types of public speakers, speaker personality types, and speeches.
- Do you want to be a keynote speaker?
- Are you a ‘sage,’ a scientist who wants to give research presentations?
- Are you seeking to motivate, inspire, inform, or persuade?
- Are you funny? Do other people agree that you’re funny?
Discovering your speaker personality type and the different types of speeches will allow you to become a great public speaker. There’s not just one crayon color, and there’s not just one perfect mold for a public speaker. Your journey is to unearth the great public speaker inside you.
Build your public image
One of the most important keywords in the journey to becoming the greatest public speaker is–you guessed it–Public.
In order to expand as a speaker, it is important that you create a center for your public image, whether it be a website, blog, newsletter, Twitter account, or YouTube. Use this center to promote your previous engagements, lend credibility to your image by listing your expertise and accomplishments, and as an easy way to contact you for future speaking engagements.
Realize that there will not be a plethora of options for you to choose from once you begin to speak. Initially, some offers that come your way may not even be on your preferred topic or to your target audience. However, “building your brand” happens one speaking opportunity and one referral at a time. Each opportunity that you take adds to your credibility until you have the freedom to choose between offers.
Write about what you speak about
A good public speaker speaks well. The greatest public speakers find multiple platforms to broadcast their special message. If your area of expertise is in leadership, start a blog about leadership. If you study interpersonal interactions, write a book about communication. This not only connects to people in different ways, but it expands the amount of people you are able to reach.
Learn from the best in the business
Learning from the experience of others can accelerate your own individual growth as a public speaker. Just the simple fact that someone else has succeeded in the area you are now pursuing means that there are footsteps for you to follow. They have techniques and tips that you can re-purpose and put to use in your own journey from Porky Pig to the greatest public speaker ever. Follow the blogs of your favorite speakers, subscribe to their newsletters, watch their videos, and even practice some of their best speeches. All of these steps will improve your skills as a public speaker.
Practice, practice, practice!
Take every available opportunity to speak, as only deliberate and continual practice will perfect your talent as a public speaker. Try these:
- Practice in front of your mirror at home.
- Take speaking roles at your job.
- Join a public speaking club.
- Enroll in a public speaking course at a local university.
Keep updated on the latest issues and topics
A great public speaker not only has a message to deliver, but has the ability to speak on issues and topics relevant to the society at present. Speaking about new advancements in video technology only makes a difference if you are aware of the latest advances. Your speech on “The Powers of the VCR” will do wonders in decreasing your relevancy in today’s world.
Keep updated by following the news, staying in tune with the current trends and topics on Twitter and Facebook, checking the top web searches on Google and Bing. Then, do the appropriate research and find a unique way to approach the issue.
Read, read, read!
I once read that reading is fundamental.
It is fundamental in the arena of public speaking as well. Reading incorporates many of the other tips on this list. It is yet another way to increase your knowledge base, acquire additional skills, and learn from the best in the business. It is not a coincidence that many of today’s best speakers are also avid readers. They go hand in hand. So, as you traverse on the journey to become the greatest public speaker, take time to read a book or two on the way!
See you at the top! Welcome to the journey!
If you have any other tips or comments, feel free to share them below!