Speaking is Hard, But Anyone Can Do It.

One of the most common myths about public speaking is that you need to be born with some sort of natural talent for speaking. The good news is that this is not true. Anyone can learn to speak in front of an audience, competently and calmly enough to feel at home on stage. But there is a catch: to speak competently requires some effort. What appears at first sight to be natural talent is just the result of hard work; hard work learning the craft and hard work learning each talk or presentation.

Watching an experienced speaker at work this effort is concealed. Most are happy to let you believe that they can just stand up and talk without any preparation, but in reality there is always some preparation needed. Anyone who just walks up and starts talking is simply drawing on long experience and has a repertoire of content that they can deliver apparently without any preparation, simply because the preparation was done a long time ago.

Anyone can learn to speak if they make the effort. Given an intensive enough practice schedule this can also be done quite quickly, though never overnight. In some ways having little experience can be a benefit because there are no bad habits to unlearn. Coaching business people to make important talks and speeches I have noticed that many people used to business presentations are used to looking at the screen, which might work in a tiny meeting room but looks unprofessional on stage. Someone unused to speaking would simply learn to look at the audience from the start.

So how can a random person go from zero to hero in the shortest possible time? There are actually two separate problems. The first is to build hours of speaking experience. This is something that is hard to learn by reading books, so you need to speak as often as you can -- preferably with a real audience but at least in front of a coach, standing up in the closest possible approximation to a stage setup. When you have a specific event to prepare for it makes sense to work on that content during this phase, but if there is more time it is even more effective to prepare and deliver a number of different talks.

Once you have built some hours of speaking experience the second problem is to learn your content and practice delivering it until this becomes very smooth and professional. You might need to work on the content to make it easier to deliver and I strongly recommend designing the content for easy delivery from the start. Keep it short, keep it simple; keep it structured. Very often people make life difficult for themselves by writing a speech that is difficult to deliver.

In some ways public speaking is hard but it is also something that anyone can do if they make the effort to prepare. You would never dream of performing a concert using an instrument you have never tried and in the same way it takes much more work that you might expect. But this work will be rewarded in the end because you will feel better and boost your reputation. Being able to talk about what you do gives you a massive advantage over other equally-skilled practitioners who stay in the shadows.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

Andrew Hennigan does both workshops about public speaking and coaches speakers one to one. If you like to talk about these options you can contact him at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or 0046 730 894 475


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