Why you should say yes to public speaking
Are you asked to speak in public? And if you are, what is your response? Do you say yes to public speaking?
The most common reason my clients give for starting work with me is that they have been asked to deliver a presentation and they want some support. Not all of them said yes first time around though and many have said yes reluctantly!
So, let’s look at the reasons why people are asked to speak in the first place.
If you are in a senior position within an organisation or with in an industry, then in most cases, speaking in public comes along with the job. You have to say yes to public speaking. Your position brings with it the role of figurehead, representative or spokesperson. It makes sense that it is the CEO or the COO or the CFO that speaks about the organisation and its vision. (And sometimes its failings and problems. Think about the ongoing Post Office enquiries). It also falls to you to deliver presentations internally. The State of the Nation presentations, the updates and setting the vision and direction.
If you are the head of a department or project or an expert in the organisation or industry, then your opinion, research and knowledge are often prized and sought after. You are seen as a credible person to speak knowledgeably and with insight. This also applies to being a technical expert – you may be needed to explain to non-technical audiences. Internally, you are the go-to person for meetings, explanations, and projects.
If you are someone who has a passion or who stands for something (and maybe stands against something), then you might be asked to share that with others who are likeminded or asked to provide an alternate view point to those who hold a differing approach. This is especially the case if you are leading a campaign or advocating for others.
I have been known to summarise it a Fear of Messing up and a Fear of Missing out. Messing up on the message, content and delivery. Missing out on the potential opportunity of this method of communication.
Of course, you might be asked, but be reluctant to say yes to public speaking. Why is this?
Position doesn’t mean proficiency
Just because you are the head of an organisation, department or project doesn’t automatically mean you are a good speaker in public. I find in organisations, there is often an assumption that if you are good at your job and if you are senior enough, then the ability to speak in public is automatic. This is clearly not true. There are some truly appalling presentations within organisations. Maybe I am being cruel here. I certainly see missed opportunities by great leaders who are stuck delivering poor presentations, simply because they haven’t the tools, techniques or skills. And they have had to say yes to public speaking. Many leaders and managers know that they need to be better at delivering these presentations – their exposure is huge if they get it wrong – and so they try to minimise the number of talks they give or avoid them if they can.
Show – off?
I sometimes ask people in a group to put their hand up if they are an expert. There are always a number of people who are reluctant or embarrassed to raise their hands. Maybe it’s the word expert that does it! My mentor once said to me that if you don’t blow your own trumpet someone else will use it as a spittoon. If you know your stuff, chances are you know more than others and that your expertise and insight and personal experiences are valuable to others. Not wanting to shout out or appear a show off is a good enough reason for someone to say no to delivering a presentation. Worried that someone will know more often gets in the way of acknowledging your own expertise and your ability to share it.
Skills, confidence and techniques
Most people I work with know their stuff. That is not in question. But they don’t always know what to say, how to say it and how to say it in a way that makes a difference ie gets an outcome. Sometimes that means that they don’t say anything at all or do their level best to get out of the situation.
Where does this leave us?
Public speaking can be a powerful tool for building your authority status. One of the most obvious outcomes of authority status is increased impact and influence. Here are a few ways you can do this.
When you speak in public, you have the opportunity to share your knowledge and insights on a specific topic. This allows you to showcase your expertise and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. By delivering well-researched, informative, and engaging presentations, you demonstrate your understanding of the subject matter and build trust with your audience.
Public speaking allows you to connect with your audience on a personal level. By sharing your story, experiences, and passion for your subject, you create a deeper connection that fosters trust and credibility. The more you connect with your audience, the more likely they are to see you as a reliable source of information and a credible expert. If you are representing your organisation, this reflects back on the organisation.
Expanding Your Reach:
Public speaking allows you to reach a wider audience than you could through traditional means like writing or one-on-one conversations. By speaking at conferences, workshops, or other events, you can connect with new people who may not have been familiar with your work before. This exposure can help you build a larger following and establish yourself as a recognised authority in your field.
Public speaking can generate media coverage and online attention. If you deliver a compelling presentation, it may be picked up by journalists or shared on social media. This increased visibility can further enhance your reputation and authority.
Building Confidence and Influence:
The best way to get better at speaking (and more confident and persuasive) is to do more of it. If you only speak once every six months, then your ability to hone your skills is severely limited. But say yes to public speaking!
Build your status!
There are many people who lurch from one request to speak to another. If you recognise that speaking in public is a way to build your authority status, then taking a strategic view of speaking can be a real game changer. Analysing why you are being asked to speak and working out how to leverage that opportunity means that you make the most of those talks. It also gives you the time and space to plan the learning, practice, feedback and development you might need.
The next time you are asked to speak in public, what will your response be? When speaking is a strategy, then the answer will always be ‘yes’!
If you’ve said yes to public speaking and need some help with your presentations, let’s chat – get in touch.