Go from average to good.

With just three simple things, you can learn to be a very good speaker. Three things and you'll be ahead of the crowd. Three things to create positive changes in your audiences.

Your moment of revelation about what it means to be a good speaker can come at any time and in any place. Perhaps you’ll see someone in person who is great and you can copy. Maybe it’s going to be a book or article that lays it all out smoothly. It could be a video you see online of a speaker you like the sound of. Who knows, it may even just come to you when you sit down and think about what it means to be a good speaker.

For me, it was in the kitchen when I nearly cut my fingers off...

To clarify, I should that I was preparing and cooking dinner. At the time, my wife was in the early stages of pregnancy and was totally drained of energy. Cooking is fun but my schedule was busy at the time and my enthusiasm dropped. You know how it is when you go from something you like to do to the same thing when you have to do it. To give myself a bit of stimulation I set up the laptop with YouTube playing.

Initially it was silly videos and music, however soon changed to a more intellectually stimulating source; www.ted.com. For those who haven’t seen the site, I highly recommend it as you’ll find a large number (2200+ as I write this) of fascinating presentations where people speak about incredible and interesting things. After these videos started playing it was much easier to feel like not only my husband score, but also my mind was growing.

 

Warning!

The downside of interesting videos is that you’ll be constantly looking up to watch the speaker do their thing and then the knife you’re using will get very close to adding a bit of your finger to whatever you are chopping. I still have all ten digits but it was a close thing.

Warning over.

 

At the time I was watching, I’d already become interested in public speaking and the ways it could be done well. I was an active member of my local Toastmasters club and hungry to learn more about how I could be great and get better speech by speech. By this time, it was evident to me that I needed to have: stage control, reading the audience, body language, normal language, people’s learning psychology, structuring, signposting ideas, humour, timing, content, my clothes, my hairstyle, vocal variety, command of visual aids etc. etc. The list simply went on and on in my head.

I watched the TED speakers, enjoying their presentations, when my revelation hit.

Many were not actually that good!

These were speakers who had the chance to get on the stage in front of hundreds or thousands, knowing that they’d be part of a huge, internationally known and respected event (watched by millions) and yet I could see quite a number of “mistakes’ they were making regarding how to speak to an audience. The body language, the gestures, the way they spoke and many other things just seemed to be much worse and less polished than what I’d grown used to seeing at Toastmasters from the more experienced members.

People were using filler words (um, ah, y'know, so), they were covering their mouths with hands when speaking, pacing on the stage or rocking back and forth, speaking too quickly due to nerves, their voices were sometimes quiet, they sometimes used note cards and more. Yet still, I enjoyed their speeches immensely.

What was happening?

 

Quite simply, all the TED speakers had (and have) three things that take them above many speakers. The answer was something that changed how I viewed public speaking and helped enormously as I began to train people to speak in public. 

Most people are average speakers. 

The three things that will take any speaker to a good level, and without which you will never connect properly with the audience, are: 

 

1- Structure: This ensures you are delivering in a logical way so the audience can follow your message well and recall it later. It helps you to remember what comes next, how the timing will work and which points build on which others. 

2- Message: Your primary goal should be to identify a message that is relevant to your audience's needs and goals (not yours), strip that message of any unnecessary content and communicate it clearly. 

3 -Passion: Put simply, if you don't care about your topic and content, why should your audience. TED speakers are passionate about their speeches and as a result, come across as real. You can't fake this. It must be real if you want people to connect with you and trust what you're saying. 

 

It really is that simple. Note the word simple, not the word easy. It takes time and effort to integrate this into your speaking. You will have to work on finding the right, logical structure, effort will be needed to craft a clean, relevant message, and you must take time to reflect on your passion. When you do this though, people will start paying more attention, feel more connected to you and your presentations or speeches will change them positively. You will change people for the better.

Don't be average.

Have logically structured messages that you deliver with passion.

Put yourself ahead of the crowd.

Be a good speaker.