Four Essential Speaking Skills –

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Speaking in public is a skill.

Sure, there are those who love the limelight and relish the opportunity to be standing up there, strutting their stuff.

And yes, there are those who seemingly can speak off the top of their head, clearly, concisely and with confidence (but not as many as you’d think!).

And I agree that there are plenty of people who get excited by and engrossed with the energy and adrenalin rush that comes from standing in front of a group.

But …for all those for whom speaking in public would appear to be natural, God-given attribute and gift, there are those – most of us actually – for whom speaking in public needs to be learned if we want to do it well.

How do we learn you might be asking? (especially if you are one of the many who are Ok once you get going but would prefer to be somewhere else if you had the chance!)

Well you can read a book – or a blog (like this one! Or like this one, The Six Minute Blog that I highly recommend)

You can watch videos and trawl YouTube for some great tips and ideas and approaches (check out TED talks if you haven’t already done so)

You can watch great presenters and model yourselves on them – ask yourself what they do that works and then work out how they do it. Ask them!

You can talk to others and find out the tricks of the trade and personal approaches and ideas.

At the end of the day, though, you have to get out there and deliver. Standing up and speaking out is not just an intellectual exercise – it is a skill and as such, needs to be DONE. So get out there and present.

Oh my – you say. What if I mess up? What if it goes wrong? What if..[insert catastrophe here]

Well – you will! For sure. And it’s the reflection and learning that accompanies these . And crucially, in my opinion, the feedback that accompanies those mistakes. * see point #1 in my list of four essential speaking skills

So if you want to be brilliant at speaking in public, what are those four essential skills you need to master?


#1. Learn how to seek and give helpful feedback.

Don’t ask ‘ how was my presentation?’ because you’ll either get a bland response of how you were fine or an in-depth brutal criticism of everything from content to delivery, from detail to overview from structure to what you were wearing. Be specific in your asking of feedback. And if you are reflecting yourself on your own performance ask – what went well, what could you do more of next time and what could you start to do. That way you focus on getting better rather than beating yourself up!

#2 Learn how to be fully present in your presentations.

Presenters who are internalizing their fears, worries or who are thinking ahead to what happens afterwards are not there in the room (well not in spirit anyway.) To be present and fully attuned to the room and the people in it gives you a real opportunity to connect and build rapport but also have massive control within the room. And there are techniques that can help you do this.

#3 Learn to plan a presentation so that you know not only what to say but how to say it and how to let it flow.

So – a list of bullets is helpful in that it is a reminder of what to say but that content will only come alive when you know how to transition from one message to another and focus that content on the what the audience need to hear rather than what you want to say. This is what I refer to as shaping your content – rather than downloading it.

#4 Learn how to rehearse.

Learn how to use spoken English not written English. Learn how to transition elegantly from one point to another rather than clunkily stomp from one bullet to the next. Learn how to start speaking out your content much earlier and certainly before you finalise the structure and sequencing so that your spoken rehearsal informs and shapes your content. Use time well rather than waste time and being under rehearsed.

Great presentations don’t just happen and even people who are brilliant at speaking need to learn, develop and deploy these skills.

If you are interested in learning these and other skills, then check out this video highlighting some of my Spotlight Masterclasses during 2016. And here is a link to the next Masterclass on March 17th, called appropriately, Speaker Skills.

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