It’s no coincidence some of the world’s most successful leaders are also powerful speakers. While not everyone can have Obama-like orating skills, there are some simple steps anyone can take to be an effective speaker.
Public speaking may be the least preferred aspect of running a business, but Sharon Ferrier from Persuasive Presentations says it doesn’t pay to shun speaking opportunities.
“If you’re an entrepreneur you’d be mad if you didn’t get out there and do as many talks as possible,” Ferrier says.
Whether it’s in front of an audience or speaking to a small group, a good place to start is knowing what not to do. Bad speaking habits turn listeners off and ultimately cost businesses money.
Talking about yourself
Self-indulgence and grandstanding are perhaps the worst public speaking habits. A small amount of personal detail encourages listeners to feel a connection, but a large amount just bores them to tears.
“When speakers start talking about themselves too much it’s like being on a date and listening to the person opposite saying, ‘Look at my car, look at my watch’,” Ferrier says.
A lack of confidence is easily spotted and unfortunately this can be interpreted as sign of untrustworthiness, says Laura James from communications training company Inside Training.
“If you’re talking is full of umms and ahhs, people will wonder what you’re holding back,” James says.
Practise is the key to perfection, James says. Nervous speakers need to rehearse what they plan to say and preferably, in front of a volunteer family member or friend.
Getting bogged down in the detail is a common mistake for novice speakers. You have lots of information you want to impart, but the truth is, much of it just isn’t necessary.
“Don’t tell me what I don’t need to know,” Ferrier says.
“Not everything needs to be explained in its full complexity.”
It’s important to build common ground to establish a rapport with your listeners, says Robert Gerrish, founder of Flying Solo business network.
“Put business to the side for a moment and talk about subjects that are interesting in life,” he says.
“It makes people think, ‘I’m talking to a human being here, I can relax a bit’.”
Get to the point! Off-topic rambling and drawn-out analogies only serve to annoy audiences. Know your message and plan how you can clearly convey it.
“The audience will only to where you want to take them,” James says.
“Avoid drifting off on other subjects or the audience will daydream.”
Failing to ask for action
What do you want your listeners to do after you have finished talking? It may be to take your business card or at the very least a Facebook like. Whatever your request, make sure you let your listeners know what you want them to do, says Ferrier.
“There needs to be a request for people will walk away and say, ‘What a nice presentation’ and that’s it,” she says.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Unfriendly or arrogant tone
You may consider yourself the most knowledgeable on a subject, but don’t let that come across as arrogance, says Ferrier.
“You’re not just selling the product and services, you’re selling yourself so you need to be friendly and approachable,” she says.
Not knowing the audience
Who are you talking to and what do they want? This information will help you tailor your speech and ease any nerves.
Knowing your audience also makes it easier to target their needs, says Gerrish.
“Find out who you’re talking to because then you stand in their shoes, metaphorically,” he says.
“Once you think about your audience, you know what some of their hot buttons are.”
No tone or pace variation
A speaker who drones on in the same tone and pace is likely to send their listeners to sleep. To animate your talking and keep your audience engaged, try to control your voice and vary your tone and pace.
“If you speak at the same pace eventually it becomes like white noise,” James says.
“Watch the pace of your speaking – don’t rush to the end of your talk, and add pauses for effect.”
Too much jargon
Is your vocab littered with jargon no one understands? Simplify it or risk losing your listeners.
“People use jargon to hide behind or because they think they sound intelligent,” says Gerrish.
“Anything you say should be understood by an eight-year-old.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.