Public speaking is hard. The fear is understandable and real. And the truth is, wherever you turn, you are likely to meet far more people afraid of public speaking than otherwise.
“All speaking outside our home is public speaking, there is no such thing as private speaking”.
You, therefore, have two options. Hide below a rock and never explore the occasion to shine. Or brace yourself and do the unthinkable. Put yourself out there, raise your hand and get yourself a speaking spot.
- Increase your visibility
Chances are high that you seek more visibility whether in terms of where you stand in your company, as against your peers, in terms of how your business leaders view you, in terms of the dream job you’ve been vying or the project you’ve been working to get yourself involved in. Whether such visibility is for yourself or your own business, public speaking offers a chance to establish your personal branding in a more concrete, visceral manner.
It’s possible that, in your first few attempts, you may flop or worse still, be tepid. In fact, you don’t start usually with polish and pizzazz. But you must realise that you fail forward. You achieve success one painful step at a time. And every single step taken is worth its weight in gold.
- Helps you build character
You are effectively standing up to your fears and dealing with it head on. That is no small feat and when you’ve succeeded, this will be an internal marker that you will come back to, time and again, to help you figure out your limitations, strengths and mindset. It will help you push yourself further and do things you previously thought unimaginable.
- Learn to think on your feet
They don’t teach this much in school and you learn this the hard way once you enter the corporate world. Anything you can do that helps you develop critical thinking and thinking on your feet will be of immense value both in your personal and professional life. The quicker you start down this road, the better!
- Establish your voice and be an influencer
Everyone has the opportunity to become both student and teacher. With some exception, it is not always necessary for you to get a teaching qualification, in order to teach. We learn, at every step of the way and we learn when we open our hearts and minds to the lessons before us. If we pick up good ideas and can share them, they will be of benefit and real value to many who are at different stages of similar journeys. And so, as you learn, you teach, you share, you influence.
- Improve your communication skills
Even though you have been learning language and the art of communication, from the day you were born, you would not baulk at the idea that your communication skills could use some help, that communication is a lot harder to put into practice than people make it out to be.
The fact is that communication can sometimes be quite the minefield. You’re using words, body language and emotion. There’s nuances, slight twists in body language, the inflection at the end of a sentence – all these can either support what you are saying or betray your true meaning!
Practise, practise, practise. Practise quicker, practise more.
- Broaden your circle
Speaking is also a wonderful way of broadening your circle.
So if you are new to this and want to make your first tentative steps, I’d suggest that a good warm up, but perhaps equally effective, is to accept the guest panellist role at a conference. The choice of conference, the reputation of the conference organisers, the other guest panelists as well as the topic itself are all worthy of consideration in making a decision on whether to accept the invitation to be a guest panellist.
But once you’ve accepted the invitation, your work has begun.
In my next post, I will share tips on what to do once you’ve landed your spot on a panel session.