Persuasion skills are essential to good leadership and one of the greatest components in public speaking. It has the ability to influence, convince, negotiate, and sell. Who doesn’t need it? I am sure sometime or the other all have gone through a situation where we had to say a few words in public and we got cold feet.
The good news is that we can all learn to be effective public speakers. Making effective presentations is critical to success in life. The best product or service, if not presented properly, is useless. There are many advantages to being a powerful speaker. One of them is that you are perceived as a leader and an expert in your field. Second is that you can leverage your position effectively. Public speaking comprises of the following three F’s — flair, flow and facts.
When you are on the platform your presentation must have interest. It ought not to be bland. You are not an entertainer or performer, but your presentation must have flair. There must be a structure to your presentation, otherwise people lose track. Whatever you say from the platform goes into public domain. No matter what you say, you must have your facts right in order to gain credibility. The following are some steps to being an effective public speaker.
Clarify expectation in advance: Ask your hosts what is the end result they are looking for, upon completion of your presentation. The clarity would decide your contents.
Do not make more than three points: Why? Less than three is too little, more than three are too much. Don’t question the power of three. Somehow three points stick.
Use simple language: Keep your presentation at sixth grade level. Use simple words that can easily be understood. Don’t use jargon, slang or words difficult to understand. The idea is to express and not to impress. The audience being impressed is a natural outcome of a good presentation.
Be yourself: Don’t pretend and put on a false mask. Just be honest and sincere. Being yourself does not mean that you become casual.
Go well prepared: Practice, practice and practice. There is no substitute to preparation. Audiences can tell, whether you have came prepared or not. An unprepared speaker wastes their audiences’ time. This amounts to literally breach of trust. Remember, time is more precious than money.
Have a strong opener: Why? How much time do you have to grab your audience’s attention? About 30 seconds. If you have not got their attention within 30 seconds, you have lost them. Most powerful speakers have really strong openers.
Have a strong close: Why are strong openers and closes crucial to a good presentation? Impressions stick in the mind whereas contents are lost. Impressions have a lasting effect.
Always close with a call to action: Every speech must close with a very strong and specific call to action. This makes you a leader— otherwise you are only an information provider. If your speech does not end with a call to action, then you are only a loud speaker not a good public speaker.
The above are only few essentials of a good public speaker. Good public speaking needs a lot of practice. Remember that some of the greatest masters, when they started, were the greatest disasters. Yes! You can learn to speak with power, poise and pizzazz.
The writer is founder, qualified learning systems, USA