Public Speaking

Public Speaking is one of Matter’s top skills linked to performance and career success. Matter helps professionals tease out blindspots and areas for growth in skills like public speaking through regular peer-to-peer feedback.

What Is Public Speaking

Definition of Public Speaking: Speaks to a live audience in an informative, persuasive, and entertaining manner.

While public speaking may not be a regular part of most jobs, you will eventually have to speak in front of an audience. Whether it’s to share updates with your teams or present your work. Public speaking combines a wide range of skills to communicate ideas, motivate teams, and provide proper training. Great public speakers can have a powerful influence on their audience, and in some cases have the potential to change the lives of those listening.

Great Public Speakers You May Know

Barbara Corcoran: As a prominent business investor, Corcoran is used to being on the other side of public speaking, as part of the audience. Throughout the years, and more recently as one of the primary investors on the TV show Shark Tank, Corcoran has had to develop her own public speaking skills. She promotes public speaking as a powerful opportunity for all professionals: ”If you’re afraid of public speaking, you’re missing out on one of the biggest opportunities to grow your business.”

Brené Brown: A researcher and professor at the University of Houston, Brown is most known for her motivational #1 New York Times best-selling books that have influenced millions of people. With that success came a flood of public speaking opportunities, which she was reluctant to accept because of how nervous she gets speaking in front of crowds. Over time, Brown has embraced her vulnerability to deliver speeches as powerful as her books, first on the TED stage and then as the first Netflix-produced, recorded motivational speech on the streaming platform. Brown is particularly fond of sharing personal and heartfelt stories to connect and bond with her audience: “Connection is everything.”

Tony Robbins: One of the most recognized and mentioned motivational public speakers of the last two decades, Robbins has been hailed as a game-changer in his presentations. Oprah Winfrey said that Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within event was ”one of the most incredible experiences” of her life. Robbins makes his presentations memorable by tapping into his audience’s emotions and delivering as much value as possible. In order to do this, he needs to know his audience. “The more you understand what somebody wants, needs, and fears, the more you can figure out how to add value.”

Why Public Speaking Is Important

  • Connection: The most important aspect of public speaking is how well you connect with the audience. Having empathy and compassion for those listening can allow you to connect deeply and communicate freely with them, which leads to increased trust and influence.
  • Influence: While some public speaking opportunities inspire others, some are meant to communicate information to gain the desired result. Great public speakers can help influence the decisions of the audience to support an idea or course of action, which can be particularly important in the realms of business investment and regulation.
  • Inspiration: Great public speakers are experts at utilizing their passion and influence to motivate people to take action and share a common goal or vision. A powerful speech can inspire teams and audiences to rise above and beyond to deliver exceptional results.

What Public Speaking Isn’t About

  • Being Robotic: Just presenting information is not enough to influence an audience. Boring, robotic presentations are rarely remembered or acted upon, no matter how important or valuable the information is. Great public speakers don’t just provide value, they preset it in a memorable way that connects with the emotions, not just the mind.
  • Getting Off Track: Being a great public speaker does not mean you can hold the attention of the audience for long periods of time. Instead, it is more effective and enjoyable to connect and provide value without getting side-tracked or wasting time.
  • Showing Off: Public Speaking is not a chance for you to show off your accomplishments or knowledge. While you may look impressive, showing off is unlikely to help you connect with the audience and provide them with lasting value.

Abilities That Lead To The Mastery of Public Speaking

Acting confidently: A big mistake nervous speakers make is apologizing. When we are feeling nervous, we say things such as ‘It’s just my opinion,’ or ‘I’m not really sure,’ or ‘I could be wrong, but...’ This is detrimental to your message. Be sure you believe in what you are presenting to help you feel confident about the information you are sharing.

Holding a rehearsal: If you want to give a presentation that is compelling enough to inspire audiences to listen to your call to action, you need to give yourself plenty of time to prepare, so when you step on stage you know your presentation inside and out. A big mistake speakers make is failing to properly rehearse.

Making eye contact: When you look people in the eye, you establish rapport. You make an impact. You send a compelling message. Sustained and purposeful eye contact is crucial in public speaking because it gives you a chance to create a good impression. It can mean all the difference when you’re trying to get the audience on your side.

Smiling from start to finish: Smiling is simple, powerful and very effective. Smile before you head on stage. Smile as your audience enters the room. And smile during your speech. When you take a moment to smile, it naturally brings a feeling of confidence and relaxation over your entire body.

Speaking with passion: In order to really communicate with people through speech, you need to have a passion for your subject. Without passion, your speech is meaningless. You need to exude a level of sincerity in your emotion when communicating to your audience if you want them to be moved by your presentation.

Structuring your speech: Tell your speech or presentation in a clear, logical way that is easy to understand. You want your audience members to walk away with a clear grasp of what you said, as opposed to trying to piece your message together on their own.

Telling personal stories: Storytelling puts an audience at ease, humanizes you as a speaker, and makes your messages more memorable. Audiences will remember your stories more easily than facts and figures, and they’re more likely to enjoy your presentation. Another benefit is that personal stories are easier for you to remember.

Using hand gestures: The best, most charismatic speakers and influencers know the importance of using hand gestures. Studies have shown that gestures increase the value of our message by 60 percent.

Varying your speaking pace: : Work to vary your speaking pace throughout the speech. Varying your speech makes it more interesting for the audience and adds emotion to the content. Without pace variation, you’re in danger of sounding monotone. You can speak faster to convey excitement, or slower to reflect sadness or importance.

Explore Roles That Benefit From Public Speaking

Who can benefit from practicing public speaking? Matter is helping professionals at all levels get actionable feedback to improve their public speaking.

  • CEOs who are looking to become better leaders and cultivate company culture
  • Designers who want to grow their professional and soft skills
  • Freelancers who work without a traditional team and want feedback
  • Project Managers looking to improve their cross-functional collaboration skills
  • Software Engineers who aspire to become a tech lead or manager

Explore Complementary Skills to Public Speaking

Public Speaking shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your public speaking by exploring and developing these complementary skills.

  • Body Language: Uses engaging and approachable gestures, facial expressions, and postures
  • Influence: Convinces others to listen and do things that positively impact the team or company
  • Presentation Skills: Delivers effective, understandable, and engaging presentations to a variety of audiences
  • Storytelling: Creates an engaging oral or written message that contains a lesson via a narrative
  • Verbal Communication: Speaks effectively using appropriate vocal tone, speed, volume, and vocabulary

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