Benefits Of Public Speaking – And How To Make It Easy
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? All else equal, having the ability to speak well in public is a benefit, and will be a benefit in nearly every situation. On a meta level, having skills is better than not having skills. One way to think about this is by the magic pill question.
Magic Pill For Public Speaking
Suppose you could take a magic pill that would make you one of the most engaging, charismatic, entertaining and persuasive public speakers ever. From inside your own brain, it would seem just having a conversation with a close friend. But in reality, you would be up on stage, motivating millions to do whatever you wanted. Would you take such a magic pill, if it had no side effects, and was free, and you had the only one in existence?
Of course you would! Everybody would! This is because we all inherently know the benefits of public speaking. The benefits are powerful and overwhelmingly positive. But the only reason we want to know the benefits, to spell out the benefits of public speaking, is because we are all terrified of public speaking!
Two Part Post
So this is what we are going to do. First, we’ll go over the obvious, and not so obvious benefits of public speaking. Then we’ll cover some very useful strategies to make it easy to enjoy public speaking. So even an imagination of, “Why don’t you stand up and give us a summary?” doesn’t make us faint and want to hide under the table!
Top Five Benefits Of Public Speaking
If you can stand up and speak, explain things, describe things, teach things to others, you will make more money. Two people with exactly the same background, same intelligence, same experience, same degree, same extra-curricular activities, but with only one difference, (public speaking skills) guess which one is going to making way more money? Yep.
A corollary to the above is that with strong public speaking skills, you’ll be attractive to a lot more companies. If you have a degree in botany, for example, but can give a speech without breaking a sweat, most companies would hire you. Why? Getting a degree isn’t easy. It’s hard, takes persistence and intelligence. Add on to that public speaking skills, and most companies would snatch you up right away. Even if you don’t have a degree, but you can demonstrate basic intelligence and you have professional level speaking skills, they’ll figure they can use you for something.
A side effect of getting up and speaking to a crowd of strangers is being able to hold several complicated thoughts in mind, and deliver them in a logical way so they are understood. Plenty of people have complicated ideas in their head. Fewer people can articulate those ideas. Fewer still can stand up and articulate those ideas to a group of strangers. Building the skills of a competent public speaker will necessarily build in those other skills as well.
It’s kind of like boxing. To become a skilled boxer means you have to get in pretty good shape. Simply by being a competent boxer, you are necessarily also in decent physical condition. So by being a competent public speaker, you will also necessarily have the associated mental skills that comes with being a public speaker.
Public speakers are natural leaders. Even if they don’t think they are, people that can stand up and give a speech radiate a different kind of energy than normal humans. Study after study shows that humans are very hierarchical. Whenever something unexpected happens, most people will look around for somebody in charge to tell everybody what to do. The more natural you feel in front of a crowd, the more you will be that person.
But that in charge energy doesn’t just happen when people are in trouble. It happens in all social and business situations. It’s a kind of leadership energy that never shuts off. People will notice that about you wherever you go. This type of energy is very relaxing, very calming, and very, very attractive.
This is one that isn’t so obvious, but it is very, very powerful. Once you handle the ability to get up and give a speech without much anxiety, you will less anxiety in general. Anxiety is a big killer of creativity. Being creative takes a lot of energy, and if your brain is too busy worrying about things that might happen, you won’t have nearly the energy you need to be creative.
Just sitting around a meeting at work and brainstorming, if you are worried, even in the back of your mind, about getting called on unexpectedly, you will have much less creative thinking power. But if standing up and giving a summary of your opinion is no big deal, then you can use all that extra brain power to think of creative solutions. And if you are the one thinking of all the creative solutions, then that’s another reason why you’ll be making more money than everybody else.
Part Two – How To Make Public Speaking Less Terrifying
Ok, so it’s still obvious that public speaking is worth doing. That if we can somehow get over our horrific fear of public speaking, we can get the benefits. That’s what we’ll focus on for the rest of this post. How to make public speaking as easy as possible, as quickly as possible.
Public Speaking Is Many Skills In One
To start, forget any notion that you can “learn public speaking” in a couple of weeks. Or there is a collection of ideas or thoughts or insights that will make it easier. A much better approach is to see public speaking as a collection of skills. Skills that you can always improve on.
Lifetime Of Practice
Given how much more money, leadership skills and confidence (and all the other benefits) you can get from public speaking, and how there is really no end to either side of the equation (the better of a public speaker you are, the more benefits you’ll get), it makes sense to switch how we think about public speaking.
It’s not something that you can “do” or “not do.” It’s something that if you practice, you can “do better” than you can “do” now. To start, forget that any ideas that sound like “I can’t speak in public.”
Embrace You’ll Level Of Skill
Assume with the right incentives, you could stand up and give a decent speech. If somebody offered you a million dollars, or you had to do it to save a child’s life, you’d do it. Once you accept that you could do it if you really wanted or needed to, you’re ready for the next step.
Slowly Increase Public Speaking Skills – Forever
Once you accept that you can speak in public if you needed to, then it’s a matter of being able to do it in more situations, and do it better in those situations. For that, we’ll need to break down the skill building into two broad categories: Increasing Skill and Decreasing Fear. Each one these can have several sub categories. And since public speaking skills is something you’ll hopefully be improving upon for the rest of your life, you can attach these however you need to.
Decreasing Public Speaking Fear
This is easy. Start very small, and decrease your fears as slowly as you can. Be consistent, but be slow. If you feel the need for massive motivation, you are going too fast. The idea is to very, very slowly expand your comfort zone. Since public speaking overlaps quite a bit with whatever else causes social anxiety, do things to SLOWLY expand your comfort zone. Here are some recommends.
Start by making eye contact with more people each day. Keep score, and keep going until your current level is comfortable, and then increase. You might start by making brief eye contact with ONE stranger per day. When that becomes easy, go for two. Then three. Keep going until eye contact with interesting strangers is easy and natural.
Eye Contact And Smile
This is the next step. Make eye contact and smile. Like before, keep score and gradually improve yourself. One smile per say. Don’t worry if they smile back or not, since it’s totally out of your control. Keep it at one, and then two, and then three.
Eye Contact Smile And Say Hi
Eventually you’ll get to the point where you see somebody, make eye contact and smile (or nod or say ‘sup) and saying hi (or hey) is natural. This is the next step. Of breaking the verbal barrier. Try this on one person per day. Once you do one, do more, until it’s easy.
Extended Conversations With Strangers
This may seem like an impossibility today, but if you go SLOW enough, it will eventually become a reality. Once you can start and maintain a conversation with a stranger, you’re ready to start speaking in public.
Join In Group Discussions
At this point we’re still working on reducing your fear, so don’t worry about structure or style. Find any kind of group or gathering that is based on round table type discussions. Make sure you participate.
Address Any Group
The next logical step is to join any type of group, committee, or club (like a book club) where every meeting somebody gives some kind of presentation. Remember, at this point, you’re just reducing your fear. If you stand up and read from a sheet of paper, that’s fine. Once this feels normal, you’re ready to work on your actual skills.
Public Speaking Skills – Community College
One option is to take a class at a community college. That way, you and the rest of the class will start from zero, and be taught the different types of speeches (informative, persuasive, etc.). By the time you finish, you will have achieved something most people are terrified to do.
This is another way to hone your skills. Toastmasters has a highly refined set of speeches that anybody can go through once they join. Once you go through this “beginner” level, you’ll have learned a lot, and you’ll have gotten a lot of feedback.
Another way to practice is to keep going to whatever groups you belong to, and simply get a bunch of books on public speaking and learn yourself. Once you get the fear down to a manageable level, you can go through whatever books you find and try whatever techniques seem interesting.
These are other classes you can take at a local community college to expand your comfort zone. You’ll do a lot more goofy type exercises and practices to safely and slowly expand your comfort tone. Truth be told, actors have to have the hugest comfort zone since they need to really let it all hang out. If you can combine some traditional acting techniques with whatever speaking techniques you pick up a long the way, you will develop some formidable skills.
From wherever you are now, to the point where you can stand up and give a brief presentation from a set of prepared notes, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more. Get rid of any ideas about quick fix techniques or magic shortcuts. Public speaking has tons of benefits mainly because so few people can do it. So take your time, go slow, and continue to build this powerful set of skills.
This is the one thing that doesn’t require money, or education, or even intelligence. Yet this one thing that anybody (that means YOU) can learn with enough time and patience. And whoever you are, whatever you do, you’ll earn more money and have a much more enjoyable life if you make a promise to yourself to not only learn, but master this valuable and necessary skill.
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