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It’s been said that most people fear public speaking more than death itself. If you’re one of the few who wants to grow in this area, you’ve come to the right place.
Not only are those who wish to get better at public speaking in rarefied air, but they are usually some of the most successful people out there.
I’ve written this entire article to uncover some of the reasons why.
Let’s get started.
What is Public Speaking?
If we take the two words public speaking apart, in the past, it was considered to mean the act of delivering a speech to a live audience.
Today, public speaking has evolved to mean all types of speaking, whether informal or formal, where you have an audience and someone who is speaking to them.
4 Types of Public Speaking
In my research, I have found several definitions of the different types of public speeches. To keep things simple, I think the following four types of public speaking cover the vast majority of speeches:
- Ceremonial – a speech at a wedding or graduation.
- Demonstrative – a speech describing actions such as a role play.
- Informative – conveying information to an audience during a lecture.
- Persuasive – a speech where the speaker is trying to get an audience to take action.
Why Is Public Speaking Important?
In this day and age, being able to connect with others is vital. If we can’t communicate effectively, we can’t fully be heard. Public speaking allows us to reach others, and it opens up our world.
Even if you don’t care about your message being heard, maybe you don’t work in corporate America. What about your interpersonal relationships? If you can’t effectively share your ideas, viewpoints, or knowledge, your relationships can suffer.
You can have the best ideas in the world, but if you can’t effectively convey them, they will only live in your head. I have seen people impacted in a big way because they didn’t feel heard or understood. This is even more reason to get this area of your life handled.
5 Top Benefits of Public Speaking
1) Become a better communicator
Public speaking is tough. Real tough. But with practice, many improve at it. And as an added benefit, the more you speak in general settings, the better your overall speech and communication will become.
It’s just like anything else. The more you do it, the better you get at it. I never forget my first time going to a public speaking workshop.
It was a 5-day Dale Carnegie public speaking seminar. I was so nervous and anxious that I didn’t feel like I got the most out of it.
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But I can remember my conversations the following days and weeks after the seminar feeling sharper when I spoke to people. My communications flowed better, and I was able to think and speak in a more polished way.
I had fewer ahs, ums, and conveyed my thoughts more quickly and succinctly. Although this feeling didn’t last forever, it’s just like anything else, the more you sharpen your skills, the more those net effects will compound over time.
2) Improve your confidence and self-esteem
If you ask people why they hate public speaking, you’ll probably get a few different answers. But at the root of it all is how one view themself and their self-esteem.
There’s no reason why someone can do a speech in an empty room, and then when asked to deliver that same speech in front of a room with other people, they stumble.
The underlying reason is usually fear of what others might think about you. The more you speak in public and practice honing your skills, the more confident you will be in settings where you need to command a room.
As a result, you’ll start to feel better about yourself and your ability to speak confidently. Why? Because you’ve practiced it and overcome those roadblocks that stood in the way of you speaking with confidence.
I’ve seen instances where shy wallflowers who wouldn’t speak in front of a room if their life depended on it transformed into confident speakers, to the point where they couldn’t stop talking in front of a room, and they had to be cut short for speaking too long.
3) Professional Development
I have worked in corporate America for over 20 years. In that time, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people hindered or held back from advancing to the next level because they were afraid to speak up in the big meeting.
Just because they didn’t like speaking in front of others, they would be overlooked. Some of them were brilliant when you talked to them 1-on-1. But because they feared speaking in front of their colleagues in meetings, or events, they were overlooked for promotions.
Many were ok with not getting promoted so long as they didn’t have to step outside their comfort zone.
For the few who were able to get this area of their life handled, they could grow by leaps and bounds in their career. I’ve also seen overlap in terms of them growing personally, too. Having better relationships with people and speaking up for themselves more.
4) Improve Selling Skills
Believe it or not, we are always selling. Whether you’re trying to teach your child or get your child to do something. Or you’re trying to get someone to see your point of view on an issue. Even kids are selling parents and adults on why they want, what they want.
A big part of selling is speaking persuasively and confidently. There’s no better way to improve on this skill than mastering public speaking. When putting together a speech, you’re usually telling a story or debating a topic. You might even be sharing your point of view.
As you deliver that speech, you might see some head nods or smiles or chuckles in the crowd. This is selling in it’s purest form. Now take this into a sales setting, and you’ll need to speak confidently and persuasively to be heard. These are skills that only stand to improve from public speaking.
I had personally seen my sales skyrocket throughout my career when I seriously focused on public speaking.
5) Improve Leadership Skills
Let’s face it. There’s nothing quite like a leader who can command the room—someone who can get up and speak to a group of people and deliver a moving speech.
Names that come to mind include Martin Luther King Jr, Bill Clinton, Tony Robbins, and Steve Jobs, to name a few. These are/were charismatic public speakers who were some of the most outstanding public speakers in history.
If you can speak with confidence and become a great public speaker, people will listen. And usually, people will follow.
4 Must-Have Qualities of a Good Public Speaker
1) They understand their audience
You ever hear the expression, “you’re preaching to the choir?” Well, an excellent public speaker knows how to craft a message for their audience. This takes research and taking the time to understand the people you are presenting to. They’re organized and know their stuff. They do their research, they practice, and they look prepared.
You have to have the right energy level when delivering a speech. Otherwise, you might put your audience to sleep.
Some of the most successful speakers have the right amount of energy. This allows them to be engaging and hold the attention of their audience. You don’t need to be jumping off walls, but you must strike a right balance.
3) Command the room
They use useful gestures, utilize the space in the room, and establish good eye contact. Good eye contact can be as simple as scanning the room with your eyes to include everyone. No need to dart your eyes around the room, but a simple scan is beneficial.
Also, body language and tonality are fundamental. They speak clearly. They don’t talk with ahs, ums, and other filler words. A good speaker also knows when to pause to let something they’ve just said sink in.
When you speak with passion, you’re more persuasive in your speaking. It’s all about how you deliver the information that you’re talking about. Good speakers know how to grab the audience’s attention.
This could be with a powerful opening statement or a quote or statistic. They might also use humor to keep the audience engaged.
They might also use their voice or something called vocal variety to convey passion.
What Is Vocal Variety In Public Speaking?
In public speaking, vocal variety is when a speaker changes the sound of their voice to be more dynamic and impactful. For example, you ever hear a person tell a story and talk very rapidly to convey excitement.
Then they might talk in a low, slow pace to convey sadness. They could raise their voice to express anger.
All of the above are examples of vocal variety.
When inexperienced speakers or newbies to public speaking give a speech, there is a tendency to be monotone. The more seasoned a speaker is, the better they are at using vocal variety in their speech. They do this by varying the speed and volume of their voice.
This skill does take time to master. Some have taking voice lessons or public speaking classes to take this technique to the next level.
What is a Public Speaking Class Like?
Public speaking classes will vary in terms of their curriculum. I have had the opportunity to take many public speaking classes. The one thing you can expect in any public speaking class is that you will practice giving speeches.
In my experience, one of the best ways to learn and become a better speaker is to practice in front of a group of people. This is why I love the Toastmasters format so much. You practice in front of your club, and members give you feedback.
In most cases, this feedback is invaluable as it comes from seasoned speakers. You can always practice by yourself, but you stand to see better improvement by putting yourself in front of a group.
The class will usually focus on several aspects of public speaking. Classes tend to be more serious than toastmasters, as fellow members sometimes take it easy on you in terms of giving feedback. Toastmasters is also more self-paced.
A class, on the other hand, will give you a grade and curriculum. You’re also expected to achieve the course objectives with a passing grade by the end of the course. Some of those objectives might include:
- Gestures and body language
- How to prepare speeches
- Presenting skills and techniques
These days with the shift to virtual learning and meetings, you might be able to join an online class. This is great because you don’t have to leave your home, and you can still enjoy the benefits of having others evaluate you.
What Do You Do In Public Speaking Class?
For most people, public speaking feels about as good as crawling through broken glass. No fun. But when it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone, there’s nothing quite like it.
I can recall my first class. It was painful. I’m as introverted as they come and hate speaking to strangers, let alone in front of a room.
I joined the class at the recommendation of a friend of mine. He felt it would make me a better networker and business person. He thought I had a quiet confidence but stood to gain a ton by growing into a dynamic public speaker.
He was right. As my skills grew, so did my confidence and effectiveness in just about every area of my life.
For the most part, I remember that I gave speeches regularly—speeches of all kinds. The most challenging ones were impromptu speeches.
You would be asked to speak about a random topic, and you had a time limit. It was tough. I would blank out and felt like I was being put on the hot seat.
Another aspect of public speaking classes dealt with the psychological aspects of speaking and opening up. This topic was probably one of my favorite in the class. Other topics include:
1) Preparing Your Speeches
You will learn how to prepare an outline for your speeches. The goal is to move away from using your notes and use an outline or visual aid.
The key here is researching your topic and citing credible sources effectively where appropriate, and putting together an outline that delivers all of your key points.
2) Delivering Speeches
You’ll need to bring it all together and present speeches. To pass the course, which isn’t hard, you’ll need to deliver speeches. These are assignments that are set forth by the instructor.
You’ll learn to incorporate visual aids effectively while delivering your speeches, as well as the different types of speeches. Some examples include:
- Introductory speeches (I.e. Toastmasters Icebreaker speech)
- Informative speeches
- Persuasive speeches
- Special occasion speeches
How To Stop Your Voice From Shaking When Public Speaking
I often get questions on how to control or stop the shaky voice situation when speaking.
I’ll have to admit, I most often noticed that my voice would shake when I was nervous while giving a speech. I could hear my voice shaking while I spoke, and after listening to my recording. I would always record all of my speeches.
It’s pretty embarrassing. You feel like everyone can hear your voice shaking and tell that you are nervous. Sometimes they can, but often they can’t.
Here are a couple of tips to help fix this.
1) Speak from your chest
The best techniques that I learned to overcome this issue were to slow down and talk from my diaphragm (my chest) instead of from my throat. To do this, you need to speak louder, which helps a great deal.
With practice, slowing down and speaking from my chest helped a lot. I would practice talking with my hand placed on my chest.
If I could feel my voice in my chest, I knew a shaky voice wasn’t there. It was just a matter of speaking from my chest when in front of an audience. I highly recommend this.
Another less known technique is to practice your speech in your head. Visualize yourself delivering it flawlessly. I like to group this visualization exercise with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).
NLP has also helped me with this as well as anxiety. So much of public speaking is mental. If you can get yourself in the right state, public speaking is a piece of cake.
One command that I used was touching my index finger and thumbs together while imagining I’m on the beach somewhere in the Caribbean (my favorite place) right before my speech.
This worked like a charm. NLP works! I highly recommend picking up a good book on the subject to help improve in this area.
Practice. Practice. And practice some more. I’m serious.
Nervousness and anxiety are usually the biggest reason for shaky voice, in my opinion. But a magical thing happens when you are super-prepared. You aren’t as nervous.
I would find that I was the most nervous when I didn’t put in as much time as I knew I should have to prepare for my speeches. Lack of preparation would cause me to worry about the outcome.
But when I rehearsed my speech dozens of times in front of my wife, family, or friend, I always ten times better.
How To Make Money Public Speaking
I first started on my journey to become a better public speaker right after meeting one of my mentors at a real estate investing seminar.
I was at a real estate investing seminar and found myself hanging on to every word of one particular speaker from the front of the room.
Later I got to know this particular speaker, and he became a mentor of mine. I later came to find out that he was quite the introvert. But when he got in front of a room, he owned the room.
His secret was a public speaking seminar that he went to years ago.
He later told me that he used to speak on the circuit with folks who would command thousands of dollars per night speaking from the front of the room. These were public speakers who sold products, courses, and seminars to large groups of people and earned a King’s Ransom to do it.
He explained that most of the big guys on the circuit were given opportunities from the same person. This guy was sort of like an agent who fed them engagements in different cities.
I learned that these top guys on the circuit would make more money if they closed more sales at these events. You earned a commission for selling products.
This was the holy grail of public speaking—a whole new world for me. And while I could never see myself doing this, my mentor felt that I could do it.
Fast forward years later, I have been through many public speaking courses, seminars, and classes. As a result, I have improved a great deal.
What I learned about how to make money public speaking is the following:
1. You must market yourself if you have something useful to offer. You’ll have to treat it like a business to secure speaking engagements by getting your name out using the internet and other platforms.
2. Start doing it for free and build an audience to connect with people, if possible. This is easier than ever before with social media and the internet.
3. Find a niche. Are you speaking on motivational speaking, real estate investing, Forex Trading? It’s best to find a niche, but not always necessary.
4. Become an exceptional speaker. Public speaking is a skill that can command top dollar if you’re good. The better you become, the more speaking engagements you will be able to secure.
5. Join a Speakers Bureau. These companies can help connect speakers with speaking engagements based on the area of expertise.
6. Get an agent. Although I’ve heard this is a mixed bag, it can’t hurt if you can find a good one.
Public speaking is such a dynamic topic. Speech is how we communicate with our world, and when we can connect with people on a bigger stage, it can help take all areas of our lives to a new level.
The benefits of public speaking for me have gone beyond what I initially thought they would be. Initially, I just wanted to find a way to communicate better in front of a group of people. I later learned that it would transcend all areas of my life.
I hope you found this information useful, and if you’re still on the fence, all I can say is I wish I did it sooner. I had no idea how much I would grow from the experience.