Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, ranks among the most common phobias. There are advantages to conquering any fear but overcoming this one can potentially benefit your career the most.

Leading Through Speaking

When we say we look to someone for leadership, we seek it as much in their words as we do in their actions. Look around and you will notice that virtually every good leader possesses considerable public speaking skills.

So close is this association between oratory skill and even perceptions of leadership that good public speakers routinely outperform equally talented colleagues in terms of promotions and choice assignments. Pay attention and it will become readily apparent that leaders around you and around the world – particularly politicians – use oratory skills to blind us to their shortcomings.

Of course, the idea is not to be an impostor but to use your public speaking skills to magnify your repertoire of other skills.

Preparing to Speak

Like all valuable skills, good speaking comes through persistent practice. Fortunately, the practice does not have to be as intimidating as the real thing. To begin, deliver your speech to an audience of one in the mirror. Move on to a furry friend, partner, or trusted colleague as you discover that you are not as terrible as you had assumed.

One of the most important keys to speaking well is to have a message that you believe in; no number of lessons or amount of practice can substitute for the authenticity of conviction. Know the value of what you are conveying; understand how your audience will benefit from that knowledge, and embrace the privilege of molding the thoughts and perspectives of others.

To deliver your message powerfully, you need to know it inside out. Don’t confuse that with memorization. You do not need to know every word and sentence in sequence but rather the flow of thought and logic that underpins your words.

Adapt your talk to the location of your delivery and the makeup of the audience without changing the core message. It should not matter if every sentence is said in the exact order in which it was planned; the gist of your speech should endure.

The only way to achieve this is by attaining a level of familiarity with the subject matter that precludes confusion or uncertainty in the face of questions, audience reactions, and unexpected circumstances.

When You Speak

One of the best ways to ease into your role as a speaker is, paradoxically, to see yourself as a member of the audience. There is always common ground between the two; identify it and use it to anchor your connection with them. A receptive audience that identifies and empathizes with you is the second most powerful asset you can hold after knowing your subject matter.

While I have left it to the end, here is one very basic public speaking tip that is immensely effective: breathe. Even, controlled breathing adds timbre to your voice, modulates the speed of your delivery and alleviates anxiety. It is no panacea for the novice public speaker but does form a solid foundation on which to build.

For help building up a set of excellent public speaking skills, reach out today. I’m happy to help.