12 ESSENTIAL SKILLS YOU MUST KNOW IF YOU
WANT TO BE A GREAT SPEAKER
Great speakers are NOT born! They are MADE! But do you know what are the skills that make a great speaker (Ssshhh… you can learn to be a great speaker)? Here are 12 skills that will make you a great speaker.
Research is the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. Research is crucial to provide supporting facts, statistics and evidence to validate your points.
Research for a speaker:
As a speaker research lays the foundation for your speech. Your research acts as supporting information in support of your points. A good speaker delivers his/her speech with what is known to him/her. While a great speaker researches what he/she needs to support his/her message.
Focus is the thinking skill that allows people to begin a task without procrastination and then maintain their attention and effort on a task until the task is complete. Focus helps people pay attention in the midst of distractions and setbacks and to sustain the effort and energy needed to reach a goal.
For example, a child would be using good focus when sitting down to begin an essay and then diligently writing until the assignment is done without getting distracted by the television, internet or friends.
Focus for a Speaker:
Focus is crucial while preparing your speech. As a speaker your speech should have a very clear message for your audience. Every story you tell, every fact you show, every stat you surprise them with has to move in one direction only. Towards your message. Everything that distracts the audience from the message has to be left out.
As a speaker you must focus on your message.
Storytelling is an ancient art form and a valuable form of human expression. Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.
Storytelling for a speaker:
Audiences listen to a speaker to get some valuable information but they stay glued to their seats for stories. Storytelling is an art that great speakers know is crucial. Hence, they make deliberate effort to improve their storytelling skills. A good story has the power to move the audience and make your point stick like no other graph, stat or fact could. Watch how Elizabeth Gilbert effectively uses stories in her TED Talk.
Your audience may not be able to think what you think but through a shared story they can feel what you feel. And as a speaker you must master the art of storytelling, you must!
Self-awareness allows people to recognize what things they do best so they can then go hard on those aspects of their life. It also helps you accept your weaknesses. Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone.
Self-Awareness for a speaker:
Who are you as a speaker? What are your strongest interpersonal qualities? How do you best connect with others?
As a speaker it’s important that you answer the above questions. The best speakers are constantly tapping into their strengths. For example, your biggest strength could be storytelling or vocal variety or audience engagement. And knowing which is/are your greatest strengths will help you tap and make use of your strengths better. This is the best way to unique while being yourself as a speaker.
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Organisation is a common term that is used in business communication. Its so often used today that people use it for the sake of using it, without understanding or seeing the depth of this word. Organisation in its simplest forms represents logical arrangement of content.
Organisation for a speaker:
As a speaker you must learn to organize ideas logically. You must be able to organize your speech so that it flows in a way that your audience can follow easily. Your speech should have a solid opening, body and conclusion. And it should be organised in a way so that each point is bridged to the next smoothly. Harnessing your ability to organize your speech effectively will help you think clearly. Such clarity and structure will help you handle your Q&A Session (if there) smoothly as you will approach every question developing answers in an organised and structured way.
Analyzing the audience need is a key skill one must develop for all aspects of life from selling to speaking. For example, if your audience is a group of CEO’s they will be most interested in learning how they could lead and motivate their team in a better way. While if your audience is a group of college students they would be most interested in learning how to grow in their career and build relationships of value to them. While if your audience is a group of entrepreneurs they would like to know how they could overcome their mental blocks and the problem of lack of resources to grow their business.
As a speaker you must ask yourself what are the motives of your audience? Why are they there? What is it that they want to hear the most? You may have a chat with some of the people who will be a part of your audience to understand their needs better. You may even talk to the person who hired or booked you to speak about what they think is the key problem they want you to offer a solution to. This sort of informal networking and thought before preparing your speech can help you craft a speech that is super focused on your audience’s needs.
7. Connecting and Interacting with your audience
Connecting with your audience is a skill that makes the audience say ‘ This speaker is like me’ and pay brutal attention to your talk. While interacting with your audience refers to engaging your audience through questions and activities.
As a speaker the best way to start connecting with your audience is by making proper eye contact. With solid eye contact you make the audience feel as if you are directly speaking to them. The impact is immense. And you develop a deep connection, making you memorable.
As a speaker the best way to start interacting is to ask questions or have activities that ask them to do something. Moreover make your speech or talk sound like a conversation with your audience. This is will make them feel as the advice is coming from a friend rather than making them remember their high school lecturer.
8. Time Management
Time management is a key skill that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful ones. Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. It is an act of self-discipline that makes you stronger when to adhere to it.
Time Management for a speaker:
As a speaker your ability to manage time will set you on your road to success. You must manage time effectively on and off the stage. Make sure you practice time management when preparing your speech. And make sure you don’t overshoot your given time limit. For example; 18 minute time limit for TED Talks.
Planning is another overused word in management studies today. Yet planning is being used and will continue being used for everything in life and business from strategic planning to planning your daily chores. Planning is the act of thoughtfully noting down what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and when it needs to be done.
Planning for a speaker:
For you as a speaker planning starts way before you even sit to craft your speech. It starts from the stage when you find the date of the event. Once you have the date (assumed not on short notice) you have to set timelines for scheduling, networking, analyzing the audience, crafting the speech and practicing it. If the planning isn’t done right it will lead to a situation where you will have 2 days left for your talk and you haven’t even crafted your speech. Or worse so, you haven’t even taken time to understand the needs of your audience.
Confidence isn’t an attitude. Confidence isn’t about throwing your weight around or talking over people. Confidence is an inner feeling that converts to action. Confidence is not the absence of fear. It is taking action inspite of your fear because you.
Confidence as a speaker:
A confident speaker is charismatic. A confident speaker is charming. A confident speaker is memorable. And a confident speaker can persuade and influence. An unsure or timid presentation will not capture or engage an audience, and it certainly won’t motivate them or persuade them.
But how can you be confident if you fear public speaking? If you fear Public Speaking then grab your FREE copy of the book ‘From Zero To Hero‘. It will help you overcome your fear in just 10 days by following through on 10 simple exercises. One simple challenge a day. Step by step, in 10 days.
11. Seek and Utilize feedback
As a speaker you have to be humble and modest. Great speakers know that no presentation or talk is perfect (not even theirs). They fully understand that their speaking career is an ongoing journey of improvement. Hence they always aim for continuous improvement. They ask as many people for feedback as possible and look to improve themselves utilizing the feedback they received.
So, develop a habit of asking for feedback, listen to their opinions and look to improve based on the feedback you get.
Last but probably the most important. Listening! Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication, without the ability to listen effectively messages are easily misunderstood.
Listening for a speaker:
As a speaker you must listen twice as much as you speak. You have to listen in order to understand the needs of your audience. You need to listen when you are handling a Q&A session. You need to listen when someone is giving you feedback. And most importantly you need to listen to other speakers and understand their strengths and weaknesses.
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