One of the greatest pleasures I have had since leaving television is being a media mentor and training people in the art of public speaking.
I really believe one of the great failings of our education system is that public speaking (communication) is not part of the regular curriculum. You’re provided with the knowledge for life but not the means to communicate it.
In all my years as a journalist and broadcaster I have interviewed and spoken to people from all walks of life, from Prime Ministers and Presidents to rock stars, movie stars and business leaders to the average person in the street.
One thing has come through, the better communicators are the ones who have gone on to make something of their lives. Some people have all the knowledge and all the abilities to achieve great things, except one – the ability to communicate in a way that will positively influence others.
Much of this inability stems from an inherent fear of public speaking. ‘What if they hate me?’ What if I stumble and forget my lines.’ ‘How will they judge me.’
Notice all of the above is about ‘me’ nothing about ‘them,’ the audience.
First step in overcoming fear is realising that it isn’t about you it’s about what you can deliver to your audience. With that mental approach it immediately takes the heat off you.
Secondly, that feeling of fear. You’re not alone, every public speaker experiences fear and nerves. They’re lying if they say they don’t. I’ve been speaking publicly for 40 years and I still feel the butterflies in the pit of the stomach before every speech. It is a natural, human reaction. It means the adrenaline is flowing, you’re primed for action and most importantly YOU CARE. No fear, no nervous energy probably means you haven’t put in the hard work necessary and you’d rather be somewhere else. YOU DON”T CARE.
Learn to harness your fears or nervous energy and turn it into a positive force. This is where preparation and practice is the key. Practise, practise then practise some more.
There’s an old saying practice makes perfect. It could never be further from the truth when it comes to public speaking. You’ll never be perfect, no one ever is.
The only way you could have a perfectly delivered speech is via AI (artificial intelligence) or a robot, and we all know how exciting that would be. Think of all those robotic phone messages.
Being able to speak in public is one of the great joys. To influence, to inform, to entertain, to cajole, to console.
Public speaking comes in many shapes and sizes and each and everyone of us takes part in it every day of our lives. Over the dinner table, in the board room, at the front bar, in the class room, in the supermarket, at a party with friends.
Substitute the word communicating for public speaking, it’s one and the same. There are plenty around you who are seeking to improve their public speaking skills. Don’t be left behind.
Public Speaking training should be part of every child’s education beginning at primary level so they are better prepared to deal with the real world.
What is ‘Show and Tell’ if it’s not public speaking? But that should just be the beginning of training in communication skills.
I believe everyone can be taught to be a good public speaker. Some of you can go on to be great.