It is a well-known fact that many people’s greatest fear is public speaking.
But if you never plan to become a keynote speaker, why should you even care about learning the skills around public speaking?
Answer: Because your ability to verbally communicate has a direct impact on how successful you will be in your job – not to mention your life and/or marriage!
Many people are great at doing their jobs because of their skills and talents, but they won’t be able to advance their title/responsibility because they lack verbal communication skills. In my previous role as an HR executive, I often heard decision makers say things like, “We can’t promote them into this new position because they can’t get everyone on the same page,” or “Team members have a hard time getting them to respond to emails and phone calls,” or “They are not great with people.”
In other words, they are terrible at communicating.
But even if you know the skill of clear verbal communication is important, how can you get over your discomfort with speaking to others in a professional setting?
There are processes and learned techniques that will help you in becoming a better communicator. In fact, I encourage many of my career coaching clients to join National Speakers Association or a local Toastmasters club. I’ve met many introverts (and surprisingly some extraverts) who especially struggle with networking. What I’ve learned from talking with them in more detail is that they are simply not sure what to say or how to say it.
So if this is you – either not prepared to speak to your team from a position of authority OR uncomfortable with networking – there are three things you can focus on to verbally communicate better and overcome your fear of speaking.
- Structure – Create an outline of what message you want to convey, and set up an official meeting so that you have a time/place/platform to communicate. Letting others know the specific purpose of the meeting is critical so they know what to expect.
- Content – When it comes to what you are going to say, keep it short and simple. Like it or not, no one is as interested in your message as you are.
- Delivery – Think about the manner in which you deliver your content. Your tone should be in tune with the subject matter. If you’re networking, a positive energy will leave a better impression.
Ask yourself the hard questions. Are you creating a compelling message? Are you directing the conversation, or just winging it? These skills are necessarily not just for a professional speaker, but for anyone who wants to advance or find career opportunities in the future.