Working on your leadership skills is beneficial regardless of where you are on the company hierarchy. That’s because opportunities to lead exist in just about every occupational level as well as in ordinary non-working life. Maybe you don’t plan to make public speaking a regular endeavor, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from developing public speaking skills. And if you’re not sure where to start, you can look at local continuing education courses at community colleges and other institutes of higher learning. Additionally, toastmasters International has clubs all over the world, and joining is affordable for most people.
However impromptu or informal a presentation is, it benefits from your having strong public speaking skills.
Some people develop public speaking skills more organically, by looking for opportunities in their work and lives and taking them. There are plenty of excellent online resources, including instructional videos that can help tremendously. And when you develop your public speaking skills, you develop your leadership skills at the same time. Here’s how.
Public Speaking Skills and General Comportment
The concept of “comportment” isn’t typically taught in schools, but it’s important nonetheless. It is how you carry and conduct yourself and is closely related to the general concept of “having good manners,” which isn’t so much about using the correct fork as it is about helping others feel comfortable in your presence. Excellent public speakers don’t earn their reputation from making people feel ill at ease. The best public speakers know how to put their audience at ease and connect with them. If you can do that with a conference room full of people, a sanctuary full of churchgoers, or an auditorium full of people who want to hear your technical presentation, you can do it in your everyday life, on and off the job. And it makes you stand out from the rest subtly, but positively.
Building Confidence Through Public Speaking
Fear of public speaking is common. Rare is even the most accomplished public speaker who doesn’t feel some level of anxiety before speaking in front of a group. But learning the principles of excellent public speaking and then practicing them regularly is almost unbeatable as a confidence builder. Knowing that you delivered a successful wedding toast or taught a skill to a room full of co-workers carries over when you have to speak with an unhappy client or discuss a problem with a project manager. In my work as a business coach, while we don’t often explicitly work on building a client’s confidence, that’s what we’re actually doing when working on skills development and addressing skills gaps. Self-confidence is like any other skill in that it requires practice, and what better practice opportunity than public speaking?
Every speaking opportunity is a chance to improve your self-confidence.
Networking Opportunities Often Go with Public Speaking
Whether you are speaking to a group of co-workers, a technical conference, a civic organization, or a group of people gathered to celebrate your boss’s retirement, you’re likely to encounter opportunities to network with new people and strengthen your existing network. Introducing yourself to other participants on such occasions has added impact and makes you more memorable. Networking is a key leadership skill that many of the best business speakers and leaders have, and indeed it is something that business coaches often work on with their clients. Networks (personal and professional) are like gardens in that they have to be tended to bear fruit.
General Communication Skills Benefit Too
When you learn public speaking, you learn how to organize your thoughts concisely and coherently. Getting up and rambling on about something is not the same as true public speaking. The best public speakers have meticulously organized their words in a framework that allows them to tailor details of their presentation to the audience. Knowing how to do this is important not only in public speaking, but in business writing and your day-to-day communication in general. Have you ever been in a position to evaluate people’s work performance? If so, you probably know that an employee with exemplary communication skills is head and shoulders above an equally qualified employee whose communication skills are lacking.
If you are working toward a top leadership position in your profession, or even if you are simply interested in maximizing your professional potential wherever it takes you, developing public speaking skills is well worth your time and effort. The public speaking skills I have developed in my years as a keynote speaker have carried over into every area of my life, including my work as a business coach.