Want to Be a Better Public Speaker?

Jonty Plewes 17.04.2018

Why being a confident public speaker can skyrocket your career.

Having the confidence to speak in front of large stakeholders group is a key trait for most candidates in the IT & Business Transformation world. But how do you go about improving your public speaking skills?  I sat down with Michelle Sorrensen, who shared with me some of her tips.

“Do you loathe public speaking? Most people do. It’s right up there with death as one of the things that people fear most. However, for those who are leaders (or aspire to be) leaders or climb that corporate ladder, it’s a critical skill that makes you or breaks you. 

There doesn’t have to be this great divide between you and being a great public speaker. 

Here’s a few tips that the experts use! 

Give them the highlights up front
Most people are drowning in meetings, so you need to get their attention quick to get their head in the room! Cover the key aspects in the first few minutes, then you can elaborate on the detail. Remember, they can always ask questions. 

Check your language
If you’re seeking to make an impact or drive a difficult decision across the line, be aware that your language may be selling you short. The words you use can work for you and also against you. Run key messages past someone else to check you are setting the right intent. 

Lose the PowerPoint
The whole purpose of speaking with your audience, whether it be a workshop or presentation is to ENGAGE your audience. Everyone should be focussed on you, not the screen, otherwise they’ll think “oh I can read that later” and mentally switch off.  Try using a whiteboard or if you must, use one slide as a placeholder. 

Work on your posture
How you stand and use your hands makes a big difference to the impact you have. Standing tall and strong signifies confidence, hands out with palms open signifies pleading/begging your audience. Lots of movement distracts from your message. Video yourself or ask someone to give you feedback on your body language. 

Introduce pauses 
Introducing a pause can be very effective not only for allowing you to breathe! Also, to stop the potential to ramble. Nervous speakers have a tendency to talk very fast and ramble on. A well-positioned pause after a key point also has the benefit of allowing a key message to really sink in. (or let your audience catch up!) What may seem like an eternity to you will in reality only be a few seconds and can be very effective!

The key in public speaking is have the audience engaged in what you are talking about and hear the conviction in your message. Of course, working with a coach to help you master these techniques will really pay dividends. Taking steps to overcome your fear of public speaking will see you really increase your leadership profile and improve your overall productivity.”

Looking for more help?
Attend one of Michelle’s workshops “Become a Powerful Presenter in 2 days”. The next session is scheduled for 30th April-1st May 2018 or speak to Michelle for some 1:1 Presentation Skills Coaching. Contact michelle@peakperformanceleaders.com 

Michelle Sorrensen is a Leadership and Mindset Coach and Trainer. She is Director of Peak Performance Leaders and Mums Mindset Coach. Michelle is a former Program Manager who specialised in building high performing teams to rescue and deliver company critical at-risk programs. She has a passion for developing influential and resilience leaders.

Jonty Plewes's picture
Associate Director | IT & Business Transformation
jplewes@morganmckinley.com.au