Public Speaking: 5 Practical Skills That Will Launch You Forward

by Michael Pietrzak July 28, 2016

Public Speaking: 5 Practical Skills That Will Launch You Forward

For 5 weeks we look at 5 practical skills that will help you learn faster, and supercharge your personal and work life. Week 3 continues with public speaking. 

(See week 2, Mindfulness)

The Power of Being Well-Spoken


The world’s 3rd richest person, Warren Buffett, used to throw up before speaking in public. He started his first business at 13 years old, selling a horseracing tip sheet. As a teenager he sold his pinball machine empire for $1,200, a lot of money in the 1940s. He had earned $53,000 by age 16, and shortly after turning 30, became a millionaire. Today the “Omaha Oracle” is worth more than $70 billion.

Despite his meteoric rise, one of the world’s most successful men faced a debilitating fear. “I was so terrified that I just couldn't speak in public,” Buffett said. Early in life he realized that being unable to speak to an audience would cripple him, so he forced himself into a public speaking course. Today he is one of the most sought after public speakers worldwide.

If Warren Buffett had not learned to speak well, how many opportunities would he have missed? How many might you?

 

What is Public Speaking? 


You will associate it with the butterflies-in-stomach feeling you get before you stand up in front of a crowd. It is an activity that cannot be avoided. At some point in your life you will need to:

  • Give a presentation, a eulogy, or a wedding toast;
  • Give a sales pitch, or ask an investor for money;
  • Accept or present an award;
  • Testify in court to keep yourself out of jail.

Or it might be something less public, like sitting around a restaurant table, telling a story.

Conscious or not, humans judge others by how they speak. If you express confidence, a healthy vocabulary, and know how to use body language, the audience will be in your hands. If not, you’ll see eyes wander and new conversations start.

 

Public Speaking is a Fundamental Skill


Whatever your goals, public speaking will help you accomplish them faster. You may want to…

Build a business:

All businesses need sales. For several months I had a job selling credit card machines to businesses. Sales is the toughest job I ever had. Why? Because I didn’t have the speaking skills I needed to convince someone to give me their hard earned money. 

As an entrepreneur you may need to ask investors for cash. Watch Shark Tank and you know that the men and women who cannot get their message across do not get the money.

Get a Promotion:

For years I believed that the best way to move up The Ladder was to put my head down and work hard, like my parents taught me. Employing this strategy in my first career for two years, I realized that while the boss appreciates hard work, it’s not often noticed unless you can publicly communicate your value.

Networking, and giving top-notch presentations are far more visible signals to others that you are capable of a bigger role. A 2013 survey shows that the ability to communicate effectively is the quality employers most want to see in new recruits. 

Find the Perfect Partner:

How many times have you been sitting around a table with friends or coworkers, watching a man hold the attention of several women? What is he saying? Usually nothing remarkable, but the way he’s saying it, with confidence, with cadence, with body language, is enough to enrapture at least a few potential mates. Complain about it all you want, but the man who is a better “public speaker” in this scenario will open up a lot of options for himself.

 

The Benefits of Public Speaking


As a fundamental skill, learning this one will unlock your power in other areas. You will:

  • Be more persuasive
  • Open up opportunities
  • Increase your confidence
  • Be funnier & have more passion
  • Learn how to use your body language
  • Meet new professional and social contacts
  • Become a leader & have more influence
  • Dissolve anxiety
  • Improve your credibility
  • Have more courage
  • Capture others attention & hold it longer
  • Remove “uh’s” and “um’s” from your speech that make others see us as less confident

 

5 Steps You Can Take Now to Improve Your Public Speaking


To get the full benefit of this fundamental life skill, consider signing up for a public speaking course like Toastmasters. In the meantime, these tips will help you to speak better today:

  • Take your hands out of your pockets
  • Know your material, and rehearse your speech at least 20 times
  • Use stories instead of statistics – humans are hardwired for storytelling
  • Watch your breathing to relax
  • Speak slower
  • Use shorter sentences
  • Speak louder – if you think you’re too loud, the person in the back can barely hear you
  • Think before you respond to a question
  • Eliminate slang and contractions
  • Have good posture – stand up straight, use your hands, be aware of your body language

Most importantly, fake it till you make it. Science shows us that pretending to be confident makes us feel more confident, and smiling when sad makes us feel happy.

Public speaking may be the #1 fear, even worse than the fear of death, but isn’t missing out on opportunities much riskier? Get out there and talk!


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Michael Pietrzak
Michael Pietrzak

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