Public Speaking

Speaking in front of large groups of people is something I love to do, and it is a skill that I have honed via countless speaking engagements over many years. For most people, public speaking is a chore, and often something that invokes courage-killing nervousness…and sometimes even physical illness. But guess what – it doesn’t have to.

Before I go on, I’d like to share with you the biggest secret in public speaking (or public performance of any kind) – your audience is always…and I mean always…pulling for you. If you are not awesome, they are the ones who suffer. You represent the difference in them being entertained and engaged vs. completely bored and uncomfortable, so they are not to be feared. You just have to understand that they are pulling for you to be awesome, and then go ahead and give yourself permission to be just that – awesome.

So, what’s the secret to being awesome? It’s simple! Just be authentic, credible, and energetic (A.C.E.). The first two may seem obvious, but the last one’s a doozy!

Authentic Authenticity is every leader’s secret weapon. The same can be said for speakers. Your audience wants to know who you really are, so the best bet is to always just be you. If you fake it, they will know. The keys to authenticity in front of a crowd are to relax, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and reveal as much of yourself to your audience as possible.

Credible – This one seems way too obvious, I know. Naturally, you need to be credible as a speaker, but it’s easy to make mistakes that damage your credibility. The keys to being credible are to know your material, acknowledge what you don’t know when questions arise, and always treat your audience with respect. If you make jokes at audience members’ expense or get too defensive/confrontational, you will lose all credibility immediately. Regardless of your expertise, resist the urge to be a know-it-all. Acknowledging contradicting points of view goes a long way to establishing (and maintaining) credibility.

Energetic – This is the toughest one. I’ve heard countless people say, “I just don’t have that kind of (outgoing) personality.” Guess what – the best speakers don’t behave the same way on and off stage. Translation? They are performing. Make no mistake…when you are speaking to audiences large or small, you must perform if you want to be successful and impactful. I am not suggesting you have to run around and do tricks, but you do have to give some of your energy to your audience. In fact, it is inevitable that you will give your energy to your audience, and it is up to you whether that is positive/uplifting energy, or boring/stale energy. You can guess which one all audiences prefer. Bottom line – the most successful speakers have the courage to be energetic.

While the above may seem obvious, it requires diligent practice, work, and effort. If you are successful at being authentic, credible, and energetic, you are sure to A.C.E. your next speaking engagement…and your audience will love you for it!

Lead (and speak) Courageously,

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