Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Great Public Speaker?

Yes, you do. And I’ll explain why.

When I tell people that I’m a professional public speaker and communications coach, they sometimes say, “Oh, I could never do that —I’d be too nervous” or “I hate giving speeches; I never know what to say.” I can understand why people might feel this way.

Many people genuinely fear public speaking.

The thought of making a mistake or failing is so great that thinking about talking in front of a group can trigger a person’s fight-or-flight reflex.

A 2016 survey of America’s Top Fears by Chapman University found that 25.9% of respondents were either afraid or very afraid of public speaking. While fears about crime, government, economics and disaster ranked higher, public speaking was the second highest personal fear. Only reptiles frightened more people at a personal level.

Despite our fears, personal communication remains an essential tool for human beings to share ideas.

Presenting your thoughts to an audience can be an invigorating and fulfilling experience.

By developing and using your communication skills, you can become a better leader and help to further the knowledge of others in your industry.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my tips on how you can become a great public speaker. I’ll start in this article by sharing my number one secret to success: Being a great public speaker is all in your head. Are you ready to find out more? Just keep reading!

Setting Your Mind to the Task

Preparing yourself to speak in front of any audience starts with having the right mindset. You must be enthusiastic and audience-focused. Once you’ve developed this frame of mind, you’ll be well on your way to communicating more effectively in any setting.

To be a great public speaker, you need to have genuine enthusiasm for what you do and openly share that enthusiasm with your audience.

You must be confident that your information is worth sharing. The best public speakers aren’t those who put on a great show, but those who have real passion for their topic.

If it’s not possible to choose your own topic, then channel your passion into choosing how you’ll present that topic to your audience. Select a story or idea that excites you, and use the presentation to convey your passion. Your speech should make both you and your audience smile.

Lots of people imagine that the audience can see their every mistake when they are on stage. But the truth is that if you are passionate about what you are saying, that’s what the audience will see. Enthusiasm really is contagious!

Great public speakers see themselves as servants, not as celebrities.

It is very flattering to be asked to speak before a crowd. But it can be very nerve-racking, too. What if they don’t like me? What if I look foolish? What about me, me, me? This kind of self-focused mindset can paralyze you even before you appear on stage!

To be a great speaker, worry about what the audience thinks—not what they think about you. Ask yourself how you can serve your audience. What information do you have that can enrich and improve their lives? The goal of your speech should be to givesomething to your audience, so what gift will you bring them?

When you are confident that you have a wonderful gift for your audience, you’ll stop worrying that they won’t like you. After all, everyone loves a great present!

Great public speakers think positively.

Our minds are powerful tools. You can change your outlook on life by choosing to think positive thoughts. Using a method called “positive self-talk,” you can literally talk yourself into becoming a more confident speaker. Even more important than staying positive when you contemplate your fears of public speaking, however, is avoiding negative self-talk.

Every person has something unique to add to the conversation, whether that conversation is between a small group of friends at lunch or between you and a room full of conference attendees.

Don’t let doubts stop you from telling your unique story. Instead, be your own best encourager by thinking positive thoughts.

Keep Learning

Now that you know the first step to becoming a great public speaker, I hope you’ll be encouraged to keep learning. Over the next few weeks (read part 2 here), I’ll be sharing some of my best presentation methods, which can help you get your point across in a more effective or entertaining way. If you’d like to learn even more about public speaking and communication, please visit the BostonSpeaks Blog.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I love to share my passion for great communication!

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