Is being a good public speaker high on your list of priorities? If not, it might be time to think again – public speaking skills are more valuable and versatile than you think. When it comes to business presentations, wedding speeches, lectures or safety demonstrations, having the right skills is obviously vital. However, we have to face many different kinds of public speaking in life, not just traditional or formal ones. What’s more, the skillset of a powerful public speaker can be advantageous in a huge range of different situations.
Today, we’re going to talk about why you need to be a good public speaker – whoever you are and whatever you do – by focusing on four key skills:
- Thinking on your feet
We will explore some of the many different types of public speaking you’ll encounter, as well as how great public speaking skills can help you in all aspects of your personal development. So, let’s get started.
There are many times in life when we need to get a message across to people in a clear and engaging way.
Let’s say you are called upon to give a class presentation. Your job is to communicate your knowledge to the rest of the class so they understand the content without getting bored. A good public speaker has skills to achieve this, for example, tailoring information to a specific audience, or using body language and eye contact to engage listeners. The same skills come in handy when you are asked to read out loud in front of a group.
The communication skills needed to be great speaker are also useful outside the classroom. If you play in a sports team, for example, you often need to talk strategy in high-pressure situations. Clarity of communication and the right tone are absolutely vital when speaking to your teammates, especially if you are a coach or captain. We might not think of this as “public speaking” in the traditional sense, but the same skills are needed.
From the schoolroom to the sports pitch, communication is everything – good public speaking skills can be more versatile than you think.
2) Thinking on your feet
Public speaking isn’t just about making prepared statements or learning scripts – it’s a dynamic activity which requires flexibility if it is to be effective. Quick thinking is really important when it comes to gauging the response of an audience or taking questions at the end of a presentation, which is a key strand in Week 4 of EtonX’s Public Speaking course.
You’ve probably found yourself in this situation when you’ve been asked an unexpected question in class, a moment which many of us dread. We need to think on our feet, ensure that we’ve understood the question and formulate a coherent answer in real time, just like when a public figure, such as a politician, has to answer a question which they couldn’t possibly have prepared for.
The same goes for social interactions, especially with people we don’t know very well. We can find ourselves put on the spot with an unexpected question, and that’s where the quick-thinking skills of a seasoned public speaker can come to our aid. Even though we don’t normally think of these social interactions as “public speaking”, the skillset is the same, and that’s why mastering public speaking skills gives you a huge advantage.
That ability to “think on your feet”, to react to the unexpected without panicking or losing our sense of what we are trying to achieve, is also a great asset for all aspects of life. Expecting the unexpected and dealing with it in a calm, coherent way can see us through many emergencies and tricky moments.
We’ve talked about how public speaking comes in many forms, and the skills required have many uses. Likewise, a good public speaker is able to speak to many different kinds of an audience with many different kinds of experience and still deliver the right speech in the right way, as explored in this post from ChangingMinds.org. This kind of adaptability is a cornerstone of good public speaking, and an essential life skill.
For example, think about how you would need to change the way you speak in these different situations:
- Debating. A formal tone is required for this situation, and the ability to talk in detail about things the audience might not know, all with the clear purpose of persuading them of your argument.
- Birthday celebrations. If you want to say a few words to the group at your friend’s birthday dinner, you need to be relaxed and humorous, but also clear and heartfelt.
- Travelling abroad. When you are experiencing a new culture or you don’t speak the local language, you have to be able to adapt the way you present yourself in order to make sure you are understood, as discussed in this article on how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country.
These are just three examples of how we need to change what we say and how we say it when speaking to different kinds of people in different situations. Developing strong public speaking skills gives you the adaptability you need to perform well in all sorts of scenarios, even if you’re not someone who makes regular formal public speeches.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of being a good public speaker is what it does for your confidence. Overcoming your nerves is vital if you want to speak in public, as we’ve talked about in our post on the most important public speaking skills to have, but the feeling of joy you can get from an appreciative audience is a great confidence booster too.
Confidence is a great quality to have in life, especially whenever you have to interact with others. For example:
- Customer service. When you are at the giving or receiving end of customer service, confidence is everything. Some people struggle ordering a round of drinks for their friends, never mind complaining to a manager in the middle of a restaurant.
- Dealing with conflict. Great public speakers don’t let their emotions get the better of them, but have calm confidence in their abilities and in what they have to say. When it comes to conflict resolution, this is one of the most crucial skills to have.
- Social anxiety. Making yourself heard in a large group is a kind of public speaking, and it causes comparable anxiety in some people. This fear is easily conquerable with the right training.
Confidence is everything, whether you are in a one-on-one interview or leading a team on an outdoor activity weekend; perfecting your public speaking is the ideal way to gain the confidence you need.
Being a good public speaker is about so much more than boardroom presentations and conference speeches – it’s a way of life. Even if you haven’t previously thought that public speaking skills are important for you, today we’ve seen just how flexible and valuable they are for every single one of us. If you’re ready to take the next step, EtonX’s Public Speaking course is perfect for you. On the course, you can learn what it takes to be a great speaker and practise your skills with top tutors and peers from around the world. Check it out today!