We all agree that to speak well is an important personal and professional skill to develop. But we might not all agree on the definition of a good speaker.
Beware of perfect, yet robotic gestures that are not yours, or speaking in a cadence and melody that do not reflect your personality. Speaking well first and foremost comes from the inside. How you perceive yourself is what you project into the world.
And that’s why I recommend you to work on your presence and leadership first. So here is a selection of tips on developing presence and improving self-leadership.
1. Own your story and be intentional
You define who you are and nobody else. This is about knowing your strengths. And about self-respect. Are you a creative, analytical, and fun professional? Excellent! Or maybe you are observing, thoughtful, and sympathetic? Brilliant! We are all different and unique, and, the more we own and appreciate our strengths, the more impact we can make.
2. Work on the right mindset
Focus on contributing and being valuable. A positive mindset for speaking is ‘What I have to say is valuable’ or ‘When I speak, it matters’, as opposed to ‘I want to escape’ or ‘Who am I, I am not an expert’. A positive mindset shifts your focus from potentially doubting yourself to valuing yourself and will help you find meaningful and relevant messages for your audience. It will allow you to take the time and the space to say what you have to say.
3. There is no one right way to present
Your style has to be what works for you. A good speaker is the one who understands and masters their own personal speaking style. There is only one way to lead – your way.
4. Know the rules and then bend them
What makes a great speaker is their authenticity. Authenticity stems from your expertise and the passion you feel for your field of work. Large gestures, small gestures, many gestures or few gestures, your choice! But do make them intentional. Don’t fit in, but stand out.
These are the first steps towards developing presence to connect with and inspire others. To build trust and credibility, and to be clear and energetic.
Finally, one extra tip: yes, you are ready now! Don’t wait until you think you are. Accept any speaking opportunity and then start preparing.
Good luck and don’t hold back!
Elizabeth Van Den Bergh
Elizabeth Van Den Bergh is a former European PR and Event professional turned Public Speaking trainer. Being a trained speaker herself, she believes the power of the spoken word can change the world. She is determined to get more women on stage and help end all male panels.