Pursuing a career in public speaking is a big decision and a challenging pursuit if I may add, well, especially for those who are not very friendly. Yes, that sounded unrelated right? But that is one of the core things I learned in my almost five-year experience as a Training Officer.
You see, I never even thought of “public speaking” or “training” as career options, since I was under the impression that I will be working in a hospital. I finished BS Nursing by the way. Nevertheless, I’m quite blessed because I never thought that landing in the public speaking could be a fun and rewarding job, with so many perks along the side.
Now if you are someone who is graduating from high school, trying to decide on what to take in the university, from college taking up Communications or Public Administration, Education, Tourism or any course that might involve a lot of talking, or a person who is in this kind of industry already or would like to join one, this post may come in handy. I would like to show you the roadmap or rather a detour in this three-part series about the career opportunity that is “Public Speaking”.
1. Confidence is key.
Fake it ’til you make it. This is probably the line that saved me from my first few attempts at talking in a large audience. I am particularly confident about talking in front, but would go flying into the woods if I ever dare to talk to my audience. It’s just that I have this fear – that if I ask them a question, no one would respond. I basically fear rejection, but we have to know that nothing is certain, either way it may still happen no matter how hard you prevent it. So you might as well enjoy all the attention while it lasts.
The thing here is, nobody in the crowd knows what the exact words you’re going to say. They are there to listen about your experience and learn from your perspectives. They would need not know that your knees are wobbly and your heart is going to plummet out of your chest any minute, so you just have to face them with a big smile and try your best to be the rock star speaker that you are!
2. Good impact makes audience more attentive.
I remember a quote from Ms.Congeniality 2, wherein Sandra Bullock was advised by a stylist that, “People care about people who care about themselves.”.
In a fast paced multi-media world now, looking like your just-woke-up-like-this self won’t even merit you a line spot outside the office building you’re trying to get into. Let alone the receptionist allowing you to go and sign the guest log sheet. I mean it really all starts with a good impression.
Generally people like good and beautiful things, and that premise such as looking at their speaker is no exception. There is no excuse that you don’t have a good fashion sense; the important thing here is you have to make them believe that you are a person worth talking and listening to. Your professional image starts with your attitude on how you present yourself. You don’t need expensive clothes to achieve that; you just need to look the part that you’re playing. After all, the world is like a big show, and the actor who looks and acts the nicest attracts more attention than the rest.
3. Know your purpose. Research and study your topic.
Whether it’s about sharing your experience, marketing a product, invitation to an event, training a skill, encouraging to try a new career, influencing to join an advocacy, etc. you have to be sure because you don’t want to be caught sending the wrong message. Sometimes, when you want to sell an idea, it turns out you training the person on how to sell the idea as well – giving you zero effectiveness in reaching your goal.
4. Be credible.
I think this is a major struggle when you are in a career where you have to play a role, such as mine (Trainer), to an audience who may probably know what you’re going to talk about. I have a lot of cases wherein I was in the middle of a real estate sales training, and I have a student who is older than me in terms of age, and has more experience in the industry counted in years have me asked a question. It’s a difficult situation to be into, which is why you must do your homework. If you don’t have the experience, research! Either in books or interviews, you have to supplement yourself with knowledge!
You are playing the role of the person who knows better, (maybe you do know, or maybe not) so you have to keep that façade in certain terms. Do not apologize for anything that might make them think you’re not credible. Do not show your true colors by being stubborn or convenient to answer, “That is not our topic for today.”, or “I do not know.”, rather be kind by replying “I think that information is not yet updated, let me get back to you on that.”.
Remember, whether you are a teacher or a speaker, the audience will always think that you are an expert, and you know what you’re talking about. Precisely, because you’re in the stage and they are in the bleachers. The respect is already classified; now make them want to appreciate you and the talk more.
5. Make your presentation interesting and engaging.
I am always in a battle of whether I should use a graphic material or not, but later on resolves in creating one because they are highly beneficial in points I’d like to present.
Whenever I present something so complicated for the audience, I try to use analogies and I keep my presentation simple. I am actually in love with cartoony visuals, because they remind me of childhood, a time where things are a lot easier. So below is a sample of my SOAR Training title page (SOAR – Sell Online. Achieve Results).
I think it adds to the feeling that the module is easy to comprehend. Given that the content is quite complicated already, why do the visuals have to be?
It is also better to put more pictures instead of cascading text-heavy slides. You as the speaker should provide words of explanation naturally, and not stare at the screen reading them. It would be tedious enough to read everything, so you may want to keep things easily understandable. Post an image and caption, and then you explain. You don’t want to be overshadowed either by the material. Because if all the information is there, you could have given your attendees handouts instead, why the need to even attend your session anyway?
Captions should be short as well. Make things lighter for the audience. Now to keep things more engaging, you can also start a fun game. But make sure you relate it to the lesson or the topic at hand, so it would be beneficial in constructing the synthesis on why your class has to do it.
Please do use the whiteboard and the marker when you want to drive a point that is not presented in your slides. But if these are not available, I always try to make use of Paint in my Microsoft-run laptop. Good thing my device has a touch screen feature so it is easier for me. But if you have a Mac, you may use the Note program as well.
6. Use fillers to articulate.
Another thing that I notice in most speakers is that they always have this safety word. This is the word that they always use as fillers when they are talking. Instead of saying “uhmmm”, they replace this with “okay” “basically” “actually” “so” “I mean” “well” “what else”, etc. This is helpful especially when you are trying to do away with usual “uhmmm” and when you need an ample amount of time to gather your thoughts before you utter another word.
However, uhmmms give an impression that you are running out of ideas, where in fact the goal is to be an idea-machine! Awareness and extreme consciousness should be raised so that you can avoid saying this. I am quite happy to say that I am becoming more conscious training after training, and my uhmmms have decreased. But along with this good news, I tend to notice speakers having a safety word, which they repeat most of the time. It’s okay to have a safety word, as long as it is not abused. I am not being melodramatic, but I think one has to be aware on the safety word’s continuous repetition as well. As it doesn’t sit nicely when you are the one sitting in that chair having to listen to your teacher/mentor repeat the same word over and over again. Yes it’s quite annoying, and it makes you want to jot how many times he or she actually said it. So, try to minimize it and choose other words instead.:)
So that’s it for now, the second and third part will come soon after this post. I will be including a link here, so do come back to check if it’s already up.
I hope you learned a thing or two in reading this, because public speaking is also an art that needs to be learned and understood on why and how it is the way it is. After all. it’s like watching a good show, make sure attending your presentation is worth their while.
What do you think about this post? Please put your comments below. Thanks!