Many of us find ourselves in awe of public speakers because they present and communicate with ease. We tend to wonder how they actually got there. Well, we know that those that deliver presentations at a high level, have practiced and rehearsed...over and over again. They were not born that way and they probably didn’t start out as great speakers. It takes practice, and a lot of it, to be exceptional. If you want to learn how to become a better speaker, start with your mind, practice often, and seek out opportunities. You have to put yourself out there to get comfortable. Over time, the pain associated with presenting will get less and less.
As we have conducted communication training for managers over the years, here is what we've found to be most impactful to accelerate your own growth.
1. Envision your future self as an exceptional speaker
What results do you want from delivering an exceptional presentation? Who is the person you want be? How do you want to feel after that event? Choose your thoughts to fuel the right actions and results. Write down these thoughts and say them back to yourself. For example, you might write down...1) I will connect with the audience, 2) I am exactly what they need, 3) They will understand me perfectly, 4) I will know what I am going to say, 5) They will be excited by me, and 6) My words will inspire them to act. When you reinforce a better version of yourself in your mind, you will start to become that person now.
2. Study speakers you admire
Look at our YouTube playlist of great public speakers. We have included speakers in many different formats - presentations, interviews, and virtual conversations. Shuffle and watch them while you get ready in the morning or while you exercise. Check back regularly as we are adding to this list almost weekly.
3. Practice with others
Start practicing now. Begin with an audience that is the least intimidating. Family members work great. This will create an opportunity to hear yourself and practice your message with other people listening. Then, progress to team members or a rehearsal with leadership before the big event. If you want an independent perspective, register for a communication skills workshop or contact us to schedule private coaching sessions. We can work with you and give you tailored suggestions on how to become a better speaker. You will get feedback on visual leadership, vocal presence, message structure, and handling questions.
4. Practice by yourself
Another way to hear your voice and observe your nonverbal cues, is to practice by yourself. Mirrors are great. Do everything you would do as if you were presenting in a group. Use gestures. Smile. Vary your eye contact. Move throughout your space. Voice memo recordings are also wonderful. Replay them on car rides or listen to them when you go on a walk.
5. Get out there
Search for associations within your industry or function that you can join. Seek out opportunities to learn from the best speakers and also practice your communication skills during their networking events.