We all know that public speaking is listed among people’s top fears. As most of us know, “Many people would rather be in the coffin than called on to speak at the funeral.” But we often think of “public speaking” as a very specific set of circumstances. Is this what you picture?
- You’re on a stage
- Probably behind a podium
- Delivering a prepared talk
- With slides and notes
- To an audience that is there to hear you speak
- And judge you partly based on your speaking ability
That’s the spine-chilling fear for many people. Being on stage. Being the focus of a seated audience as you try to keep the attention of dozens or hundreds of people who have specific expectations.
But for most people, that’s going to be a rare occurrence. So we don’t think about improving our “public speaking and presentation” skills because we fear and avoid those specific kinds of situations.
My guest on “Aim Higher” this week, Patricia Fripp, is an expert on how to give presentations and she makes the excellent point that for most of us, presentations are much more informal and ad hoc… but no less important. (Read her latest book, packed with tips and tools for speakers: Deliver Unforgettable Presentations: How to Speak To Be Remembered And Repeated In-Person, Online, and Onstage.)
Do any of these situations seem more like something you’d encounter:
- You’re in sales and talk to just one decision-maker or a few prospects around a lunch table.
- You manage a team, or projects, and need to give weekly updates to your colleagues
- You report results up to management on a regular basis
- You help organize and lead a club or a church group
- You train or teach people
In all these situations, you’re exercising your “public speaking” abilities, although you may not be thinking of them as such. Which means you can improve those abilities with the ideas that Patricia provides during our talk, in the books she’s written, and through her other tools.
One thought she brought forward during our conversation is, I think, especially valuable. She said, “We always want to speak to be remembered and repeated.” So, ask yourself this: even if this is a more casual kind of communication than a staged speech—what do you want people to remember and repeat?
If you have that desired outcome in mind, you’ll do a much better job at achieving your goals. It’s a great piece of advice, and only one of many you’ll take away from this information-packed episode.
Patricia Fripp is a Hall of Fame keynote speaker, an executive speech coach, and a sales presentation and online learning expert. She is a member of the Speakers Roundtable.
Her newest book is one that I highly recommend:
Image Credit: Joshua Hanson