Want to become the best you can be in terms of public speaking? Here's a way to recognize your abilities and learn how to be a natural public speaker!
Today, I'd like to talk about how you can be 100% yourself and be a devastatingly good public speaker at the same time. In fact, I don't know of any other way it can be done.
That's half of my good news message. The other is this: you have, in abundance, the tools you need to be this successful at public speaking. You may not recognize them; and like many people, you may be putting up your own roadblocks that keep you from your goal. But really, you're a natural, and any good leadership training should help make you aware of that fact.
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What I mean by that is, you already demonstrate an ability to connect with people, enjoy getting your ideas across, and feel perfectly comfortable doing it. You may just have to tweak your thinking a bit to connect when you're hitting on all cylinders like this with the public speaking situations you find yourself in.
So let's go there.
How to Develop Confidence in Public Speaking
We're going to take a "3 C's" approach, because it's a good way to articulate what makes you succeed with audiences while feeling good about the process. The C's stand for confidence, credibility, and charisma.
I have an easy way to help you develop confidence in your own abilities—and it's one you may not have heard before. It involves simply observing for yourself the skills in public speaking you demonstrate every day.
That's when you're telling a joke to friends, or describing the exciting (touchdown, 3-pointer, ace, hockey goal, or penalty kick, etc.) by your favorite team or athlete. It's you describing the amazing movie you just saw, or discussing a deeply held belief. When you speak like this—and especially when you're at ease with colleagues or friends, you demonstrate every aspect of skilled public speaking: voice, supportive body language, passion, eye contact, and all the rest.
Much of that can get lost in PUBLIC SPEAKING (that is, thinking about it with a capital 'P'). But if you notice how you look and sound when you're communicating at your best, and bring that onto the business stage, you'll develop the confidence that you are, in fact, a natural speaker.
Why Personal Credibility Leads to Trust
The second 'C' is an easy one to incorporate into your speeches and presentations as well. Like each one of the three approaches I'm advocating here, it involves something other than a focus on your content. That's the mistake too many speakers make: "If I deliver this great content, everyone will get it and take the action I want them to take!"
Why should they, unless they believe in you, the messenger? So, why not get them on the right wavelength by bolstering your credibility?
There are two types of this C-word: perceived credibility and the kind that's demonstrated in performance. If you're the CEO, are famous, have written a well-known book etc., you already possess the first type. That doesn't mean you can't lose some of that aura is you give a poor performance, however. So, you always have to be working for the second type: the belief in the audience's mind, through what they see and hear, that you have the goods.
Here's a simple way to make sure they get the message: tell them why they should listen to you. If you have expertise and decades of experience, find a way to mention it without bragging. Even if you're just passionate about this topic and have researched it diligently, that too can demonstrate leadership. And be sure to tell the audience your full name, including your title. It's a marvelous way to help build credibility before you've said a word on your topic.
Charisma and Presence: It's All About Being Present!
Now, let's talk about that mysterious quality known as charisma or presence, which turns out not to be such a mystery after all. Yes, you want it. It's important because a) it makes people stay riveted to what you're saying, and b) it helps lead them to think your speech is memorable.
It's a funny thing, though: gaining this amazing "presence" as a speaker comes down, more than anything, to simply being present. Both words—present and presence—derive from the Latin praesentia, which simply means "the present." (The whole Latin phrase is in praesentia, which means "for the present.")
That is, if you're fully present for listeners—if you're working your butt off to find a way to make them understand what you're saying, and you're paying close attention to whether that's happening—it will look and sound remarkable to them. Most of us, you see, don't bring that level of self-negation and nakedness towards an audience to our talks. We're always concerned with how we're doing, rather than how the people we're trying to move are doing.
Be present for them—learn to speak and listen to your audience at the same time (as actors do), and you'll be "there," for your listeners but also for yourself. Suddenly, it will all seem much easier. You'll be pointed toward your true goal now, of giving a speech, rather than trying to look good. I guarantee audiences will listen intently. Provided that what you're actually saying to them is what they need to hear, you will be a charismatic speaker in their eyes.
 presence and presence: dictionary.com. in praesentia: LatinMeaning.com, http://latinmeaning.com/meaning-of-latin-in-praesentia/
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