There are many things we can do to improve our chances of moving up the career ladder, or if you’re an entrepreneur, increase your profile as a subject matter expert.
Public speaking, however, is one of those things that can either make or break you, which is probably why it strikes fear in so many, more so than, say, networking in a room full of strangers.
According to Jim Gray, “The ability to speak convincingly to others – to compel them—has to rank as one of the most important business skills in life.”
In his book, When Leaders Speak, Gray, a media advisor who is a public speaker himself, illustrates how important it is to get it right.
“You don’t have to be running a Fortune 500 company to be scrutinized on your presentation skills. You are continually being evaluated by how well you speak, how credibly, how naturally, and how enthusiastically” says Gray.
In my current capacity at the American Marketing Association, I am regularly speaking to large crowds, and despite the frequency, I still get butterflies, even when it comes to the formulaic closing remarks we tag on at the end of our events. As Gray puts it, “There is something particularly humiliating about failing in a presentation. It’s as if the whole world has stopped to watch and say 'what a loser.'"
Gray has done a great job breaking the book into 5 Key principles that will get your speaking game in tune. Preparation is the first of the five, and I think it's by far the strongest component to nailing your speaking engagement, especially if delivering presentations is not something you do often. The remaining keys include Certainty, Passion, Engagement and Commitment.
Grays book is a succinct and easy read, and I found that even his most basic principles reinforced my own confidence, and have already seen terrific improvement, though the butterflies always make their pre-speech cameo.
– Craig Lund is the President Elect of the American Marketing Association’s Toronto Chapter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org