8 Essential Traits of Successful Public Speakers
Public speaking is a communication skill that, in today’s business world, can boost sales, support organizational goals, and enhance reputations.
Some people are natural public speakers who can effortlessly present information to both small and large groups of people. For many, however, that is not the case. If you have a fear of public speaking but have chosen a profession in which you would benefit from strong presentation skills, a business communication degree can help you overcome your fear, while simultaneously boosting your career.
How to Become a Better Public Speaker
You’ll be much more comfortable if you become an expert on the topic you’re discussing by doing additional research beyond just the content of your presentation. This way, you won’t need to rely solely on slides or notes; you’ll be able to speak spontaneously and naturally. You’ll also be able to anticipate questions—and have the communication skills to answer them with confidence.
Speak in familiar terms.
Public speaking often requires you to speak in a language that all people can understand, especially if you’re relaying business, financial, or technical information that may not be your audience’s area of expertise. Good public speakers opt for plain language instead of jargon in order to reach their audience.
Connect with your audience.
Public speaking is as much about understanding your audience as it is about your presentation skills. A good public speaker researches the people they will be speaking to and tailors the content and approach accordingly. Whether you’re speaking in front of a small group or focused on particular leaders within your business, consider the individuals and how they process and react to information. If it’s a larger crowd, pay attention to the overall mood of the room, and adjust your style accordingly. After all, an engaged audience is a satisfied audience.
One of the best communication skills you can have, especially in the business world, is patience. Good public speakers take the time they need to collect and express their thoughts, without rushing themselves—or letting others rush them. Don’t be afraid to give your audience time to internalize critical information; a well-placed pause says a lot. Likewise, if someone asks a question, it’s acceptable to stop and think before responding.
While it may sound counterintuitive, public speaking begins with listening. Business presentations often require you to incorporate complex topics, ideas, and differing points of view. Truly listening to your colleagues in order to gain their input—before, during, and after your presentation—is an essential skill for any public speaker.
Expect to adapt.
Things don’t always go as planned when you’re giving a business presentation. Hard drives crash. Internet connections fail. Co-presenters forget what they’re supposed to say. You forget what you were planning to say—in which case, it’s fine to acknowledge that to your audience, take a moment, and decide how to move forward. Whether it’s a small or large group, it’s likely others in the room have had a similar experienced. Successful public speakers are prepared for the unexpected—and can more easily adapt to whatever comes their way.
Successful public speaking begins with an inner sense of confidence, so think about what makes you feel relaxed and self-assured. Exercise? Meditation? Extra practice? A pep talk from a trusted colleague? Plan ahead to incorporate these activities into the days or hours before your presentation, and you’ll be well-positioned for a successful presentation.
Beyond the topic of a particular presentation, consider continuing your education in general. The right communications degree program–such as a BS in Communication– can equip you with the basic communication skills you need to be the type of public speaker today’s businesses need. Online learning is designed for busy adults, enabling you to balance your academics with real-world responsibilities.
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