12 steps to become a public speaking expert

Today’s business environment is infused with various forms of communication. With a variety of tasks such as: workshops, meetings, job interviews, conferences, conference calls, etc. there is a need for better communication skills (people from different walks of life) to succeed more. Most of the employees in various organizations and senior executives neglect the value of public speaking, thus creating a gap between them and the others (who have mastered the art of public speaking), which is hurting these employees, as in due course they get left behind, and are unable to climb the corporate ladder. Every person who wants to thrive in today’s competitive world needs to have superior public speaking skills.

Below are 12 steps to become a public speaking expert :

1. Be in an outcome frame

The first step for being an effective public speaker is the ability to speak confidently in public. For the first time when someone stands up to speak in front of a group of people, the environment is unexplored and if the person is not aware how to manage their mental state (of being relaxed and confident) or has the right strategy then they can find it difficult to speak confidently.  As per the survey conducted across the globe, people have rated public speaking as the number 1 fear.

The most powerful way to experience a breakthrough in becoming a powerful speaker is to be in an outcome frame.  An outcome frame is a frame of mind where a person is focusing on what they want. Example: If a person is in an outcome frame with respect to public speaking, the though process and some of the questions to help trigger outcome frame would be, to think on these lines: ‘How to deliver an effective presentation?’, ‘How can I generate confidence for myself?’, ‘How can I make sure that I am in a resourceful state before I start?’  Opposite of outcome frame is blame frame: I don’t want to mess up the presentation, I don’t want to look like a fool during the presentation.  Blame frame though process will create mental images, which are not helpful, and will lead to un-resourceful states.  Consciously make an effort to be in an outcome frame and ask the right question(s) to ensure that you trigger a thought process (Positive Images) to think about how to create a resourceful state for yourself.


2. Visualization about the event outcome

Taking outcome frame forward, the next powerful step to become a public speaking expert is Positive Visualization about the event.  During visualization you see yourself presenting effectively in near future, see yourself in a great state, see that the audience is enjoying the presentation, see yourself moving with confidence during the presentation, and ending the presentation in style etc.  This will ensure that your brain is ready when you have to actually do a presentation in near future; the environment feels familiar, because in mind’s eye you have already done this, and done this well.  Practice visualization as many times as you can, so that you create a mental state of familiarity with respect to the actual behavior to be performed in future event.


3. Be aware of your body language, physical state and breathing (Mastering Physiology)

The body language of a speaker during public speaking plays a vital role in how the speaker delivers the presentation.  A confident pose will send a signal to the brain to get into a resourceful confident mental state.  So make sure that you are aware of your body language as ‘Mind and body are part of the same system’, and a change in one will trigger a change in the other.  So a confident body posture will ensure that mind is generating mental states which are resourceful.


4. Bring in humor

The charismatic presenters are those who will elicit humorous states in the audience.  They will have a knack to make audience laugh. To ensure that you are a speaker who is going to be remembered, bring in humor into your presentations.  Bring in interesting engaging stories which will ensure people connect, and has an element of humor. Humor will make the presentation impactful, and that is a trademark of an effective public speaker.


5. Engage the audience by effective storytelling

Powerful speakers are engaging storytellers.  Storing telling is an art, and those who want to learn it, can do so easily.  If you have time read stories and build story telling as part of your repertoire. Each story will have a different usage, and with practice you can mix and match the stories in your presentations. Based on the impact and outcome that you are looking from your presentation you can narrate one or the other.  Also, if you personalize them with your own experience it makes it even more engaging.  Stories need not be real, but the way they are being told makes them real.  Whether they are real or not does not matter, what matters is how a person delivers it. Each story leaves a profound impact on the listener, and it a great way to make people learn.


6. Plan about the topic

Generally most of the public speaking experts are impromptu speakers, and depending on the topic, time and the context some bit of planning might be required.  On planning one of the monks in Himalayas who was addressing his students told them, “If I have to speak for a month, I will make impromptu speech; If I have to speak for a day, I will prepare for 4 hours; if I have to speak for an hour, I will prepare for 4 days; and if I have to speak for 10 minutes, I will prepare for 4 weeks.”


7. Not to engage in controversial discussions

If you want to be an effective public speaker, make sure that you understand the pulse of your audience.  You will have to make an effort to understand where they come from, what values and beliefs they might have, their cultural habits, and customs etc.  Avoid any sensitive and controversial statements, which may offend the audience. A good speaker is aware of these finer modalities, and can quickly adapt depending on the environment.


8. Use spatial anchoring to keep audience on their toes

Spatial anchors is usage of a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique, so make sure that you understand this one correctly.  While delivering a presentation you may want to elicit different states (Curiosity, humor, relaxed, attentive etc.) in your audience, for that you can use spatial anchoring.  You use different spaces on the podium to speak about a particular topic in a particular state.  For example, when you are about to crack a joke, go to a particular spot, and do that, if you do it few times the audience at a subconscious level has been anchored to that spot, and next time if you just move towards that they may experience a humor state of laughter even without a joke being cracked.


9. Bring in elements of engagement, where an audience has to participate by either saying Yes/No or by raising their hands etc.

Engagement is the most important aspect when it comes to being an expert in public speaking. The most important engagement is to have closed ended questions where a participant is being asked something which has a loud ‘Yes’ as an answer, or where they have to raise their hands, which will engage them further.  This style of speaking and engagement keeps the audience alert, and makes them feel connected with the speaker.


10. Keep your points simple

Simple language is the easiest way to get across to your audience.  Someone with good public speaking skills will ensure that the language is simple, and points that are being conveyed are easy to follow.  If the language is too complicated, and full of difficult words, then the audience may switch off.


11. Engage everybody as much as you can, bring in elements of Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic element of building rapport

A powerful speaker will bring in the Neurological aspects (Sensory based words / metaphors) of vocabulary in his/her presentation. Example: “Our Company is making progress, and our sales and marketing processes are giving us results.”  The same statement can be said in a different way: ‘It is very clear by looking at our growth numbers that our company is making progress; last year when we set the ball rolling by changing our sales and marketing processes, we felt it will make a difference and I am happy to say that yes that feeling was right, and it has done wonders to our growth numbers, and giving us fantastic results.’

Use of sensory based words / metaphors, invoke images/feelings in the listener, and which in turn creates more engagement, and that is the hallmark of a great speaker.


12. Be Yourself

Lastly, ‘Be Yourself.  It is important to have your own style, your own rhythm, your own uniqueness that defines who you are.  A great speaker is at ease all the time, and the best place to start is by being yourself.