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Training Course Outlines
Assertive Communication Skills
Creating a great
Basic Public Speaking Skills
Do you remember being in school and having a teacher explain that part of your grade would depend on a presentation you made to the class? Well, I do. This is a difficult moment! Most of us don't like public speaking. Most of us feel uncomfortable and out of place on our feet in the role of presenter. And some of us are downright terrified by the idea of speaking in public. Why do you suppose this is? For many of us, speaking to a group is new, and it can be frightening. And this discomfort doesn't stop when you are no longer in school. If you are a parent, you may need to speak in a PTA meeting, for example. If you have a job, it is likely you may need to give a presentation of some kind at work. If you are active in your community, you may find yourself in a position where you want to speak to others in your community. In other words, there are reasons far beyond your school days to have good basic public speaking skills.
So how do you acquire good basic public speaking skills? How do you get over being nervous or even terrified? Well, think about what reason you have for speaking in public. Are you explaining why you think a zoning decision is wrong? Are you advocating the adaptation of a new curriculum you feel will enrich your child's education? Or if it's a work-place presentation, are you perhaps explaining why a particular course of action makes the most sense? When you were in school giving a book report, the stakes might not have been any higher that your grade on that book report. But today the stakes really are significant. So it DOES make some sense to make sure you are able to rise to the need to communicate well in public.
Think first about your audience. Why should they want to hear what you have to say? What's in it for them, it other words? Secondly, think about how you can best communicate with your audience. What's the best way for you to explain what you want to them to know? Third, think about the actual content of your message, and make sure that message is clear and easy to grasp. And here's the secret----if you concentrate on these three key components of your message (audience, your delivery, and the message itself) you WILL be far less likely to be nervous. You will appear credible, because you ARE credible. You will appear knowledgeable, because you WILL BE knowledgeable.
Now let's take each part separately. How do you figure out how to meet your audience's needs? Well, do you know what the needs are? If you don't know, this is your first piece of homework. You need to go find out what the issues are. You need to understand what the concerns your audience has and may have in the future. Go ask people. Go ask people who work with the people you will talk to, and who manage those people. Figure out what's going on.
Secondly, once you understand where your audience is in regard to the issues, you have a real head start as to how communicate with them. If they are most anxious about costs of benefits, for example, you need to create information surrounding this specific issue. Seems obvious, doesn't it? But, believe it or not, many speakers blindly regurgitate information, whether it's what the audience wants to know or not, or whether or not your communication style meets their needs.
Third, your obligation is to make sure your message is understandable. Have you ever heard the story of "Napoleon's Idiot?" Supposedly it's true, but regardless of whether it is or not, there is some real value here. The story relates that Napoleon had a need to communicate with his leaders in the field. He would formulate a plan and develop the words to explain that plan. Then he would call in "Napoleon's Idiot." He would explain the plan to the "Idiot." If the Idiot understood the plan, then Napoleon knew he could send the information out to his leadership in the field! Well, true or not, it's a great story, and brings us a valuable learning point. If you have somewhat complex information to impart to your audience, do a dry run with a co-worker who has the same kind of knowledge-level as your audience will have. (But you may not want to tell him he's your official "Idiot!") Believe it or not, this really does work. You will be able to determine the edits you need to make to your presentation once you have a sense of how it's being received by your target audience.
And that's about it! You truly can deliver a great presentation if you do your homework. Sorry about that reference to school days…..but it's really true. Figure out where your audience is, what they want and need to know, and how you can best deliver that information to them.