"It never ceases to amaze me that intelligent, well-educated and ambitious people frequently overlook developing the number one skill that is guaranteed to position them ahead of the crowd. Namely the ability to stand up and speak eloquently with confidence or at the very least stagger to their feet and say anything at all." - Patricia Fripp
If you are unable to speak confidently and well in front of people, you are sabotaging your success and your career. People love listening to great speakers and those who can speak well help the rest of their talents and skills to shine even more.
As a speaker, you should have one thought constantly running through your mind each and every time you present, give a speech, tell a story or lead a meeting:
"Why should my audience care about what I'm saying? I.e. what's in it for them?"
Answer this question first because, while they may not say it or even hint at it, your audience will be thinking it. Without a mindset focused on addressing this, you will never be able to win over audiences as effectively as you should.
Since I'm someone who is expanding from helping people in person to helping people online as well, you can be sure that I need to answer that question for you. The answer you’re going to get is pretty simple.
You shouldn’t care about what I’m going to say to you unless you care about what you’re going to say to your audience. If you do care about making an impact, delivering powerful presentations and speaking so that people can't NOT listen to you, then keep reading. What you will get in this blog are are perspectives and ideas observed in many hundreds of speeches and presentations delivered by my friends, mentors, clients, students, colleagues and recorded speeches from around the world. Some of them are even from my own presentations and speeches, hopefully the good ones ;-)
Rather than the usual introduction of who I am and what I do, you might find it more useful to read one client's description of me. She was preparing for a very important and high pressure product demonstration in front of investors. As she kept working, second guessing herself and getting stressed, I kept encouraging, suggesting points and coaching her along. Eventually she looked at me and said.
“Pete, you can be really annoying."
Luckily for me she didn't end there.
"Do you always believe in people this much?”
The only response I could give was.
“Yes, I do. You have a lot of potential and I think you'd be upset and disappointed if you don’t live up to it. I’m going to believe in you until you believe in yourself enough.”
Most of my work now is in Slovakia, where I live. There is a trend here where many people have lower professional self-esteem and confidence than they should have. The more I experienced this, the more I started both believing in and pushing people to reach their potential.
Everything I’ve seen from working with hundreds of people as they learn to speak and present makes me believe that anyone can be a good presenter, and that most people can actually be great as well. This is, of course, as long as they are willing to put in the time and effort to develop themselves and learn.
While I prefer not to talk about myself too much (since this is about your growth as a speaker), I know that some people will still want to know who I am and what I do in more detail.
My name is Peter Wallin. I’m an English man from Cambridge living and working in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia in central Europe since 2011. I studied Environmental Sciences, lived in the US for two years working in radio advertising sales. After that I began as an English teacher here in Bratislava. My many business lessons showed me how many people lacked the ability to communicate well, especially when speaking publicly. Now I work as a trainer and consultant both for myself and for a company called Maxman Consultants. I also enjoy public speaking meetings and contests, where I've been successful enough to win 3 gold and 3 silver medals in international settings.
In any case, enough about me. Let’s get on with how you can do more. Here’s my goal:
You can become a very good speaker simply by implementing three core principles. Your audiences will connect more strongly, go away with useful information and find you hard not to listen to. Most importantly, you will continue being yourself and not feel like you are trying to act out a role. After that it's time to start becoming the great speaker you have the potential to be
Let me welcome you on the journey.