Public speaking, whether it’s to small groups or large audiences can make a significant difference in many personal and professional fields. Many experts on the subject provide a detailed list of do’s and don’ts, and these can be useful for helping avoid some of the faux pas that some beginners (and sometimes experienced) speakers commit.
I’m instead going to provide just three primary factors that will greatly improve the chances of speaking success. They are knowledge, passion and style.
Knowledge means having a high level of either theoretical or experiential (and ideally both) content on which you can draw to both develop your talk and to respond to audience questions. Theoretical knowledge can be gained by reading books or articles, or attending seminars/classes on the subject. Experiential knowledge requires having applied the theory in a wide range of situations, although interviews of others who have had these experiences can be used as a partial substitute.
Why are both types of knowledge so important? Well for one, the audience wants to know that they’re hearing from someone who knows what they’re talking about, rather than just someone who can speak! Secondly, and this is especially vital for developing in-depth rapport with an audience, is that in-depth knowledge allows you to answer nearly any question on the subject without struggling to do so. That is, you are able to apply your knowledge to situations where you may have never done so before, or even thought about.
Passion means caring about the topic on which you are speaking. Although a speaker may know a lot, of they don’t really care a lot about the subject matter this will show through, providing the audience with an information dump with no emotion behind it. Again, you can build rapport much quicker with an audience when they know you are passionate about it, and may even give you a little more leeway because of it.
And by style, I don’t mean being well-dressed or a highly polished motivational-style speaker … I mean being yourself. While certain speaking styles may be better suited to some audiences and/or topics, you’ll do much better to identify your own strengths and build on them, rather than trying to mimic what someone else does.
Combine knowledge, passion and style and you can’t really fail. Even if your audience isn’t as enthralled as you are, at least you’ll know that you presented accurate information, that you really cared about it, and that you were yourself. I call that success!
© Duke Okes
Duke Okes speaks and writes on a variety of topics related to organizational and personal improvement. He can be reached at http://www.aplomet.com .