Unlocking the Public Speaking Mystery
Are you always raising your hand to answer questions or to contribute in group settings? Were you the one to read aloud in class and to pipe up to lead projects? Do you seek chances to speak and share your story? If so, you’ve got all the classic signs of a person who was born to speak.
If you love speaking, you know it. Not because you love the sound of your own voice, but because the sound of other people benefitting from what you have to say brings you the ultimate fulfillment. Although there are many who answer yes to those questions there are few who will ever fully develop their talent for public speaking to its highest potential.
There are also those who know public speaking could benefit them in ways they desire, but are scared they’ll be judged as selfish for talking about themselves, or feel insecure about how others will perceive them as they speak. Perhaps they like speaking but don’t believe they have anything valuable to say. Many folks land here in this gray area on public speaking where they feel they could be good at it, if only they were worthy to hold the microphone. If you can relate to this then the good news is that you’re not alone. Most people fear public speaking. Here’s the good news: Public speaking is a skill, which means it can be learned, and chances are that as you learn it, you’ll learn to enjoy public speaking.
For those who wish to benefit by training in this skill, it can be hard to know where to start. When you tackle the subject of public speaking it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of advice. It’s a well-studied and popular subject. So who should you listen to? A good rule of thumb is that if you want to know the best tips, you go to the people who have mastered the skill. When it comes to public speaking no one is more mastered than Dr. John C. Maxwell. With an impressive list of accomplishments, best-sellers, and a speaker’s fee that would make your jaw drop, it’s safe to say that John has figured out the craft of public speaking.
Having spoken to millions of people over the last 4 decades, John Maxwell has learned not only what works, but what does not. Below are some highlights from his Maxwell Method public speaking certification program.
If you want to be interesting TO others be interested IN others. This is a cornerstone to the Maxwell Method and a key value John abides by across all areas of his life. This key to public speaking states that in order to be the best, you have to serve others. The greatest impact happens when the speaker exists in the moment solely for that audience and becomes so engaged in delivering value that they forget about their own egos and needs.
Pro tip: In order to help you focus on your audience and not yourself, ask yourself: what is the message I want them to remember? How will I make this relevant to their lives? What can I say that will have the greatest impact in my desired direction? As John Maxwell teaches, asking better questions will get you better answers. By focusing your questions, you help train your brain to start looking at things from the audience’s perspective.
One of the most obvious tips for public speaking is to be prepared. That can mean different things to different people and ultimately you know what works best for you. If you thrive when you have resources, live coaching and support groups, you may want to consider joining the John Maxwell Team to learn the Maxwell Method of preparing for and delivering great speeches. If you like an off-the-cuff style preparation is still critical if you hope to achieve success. Pro tip: If you get nervous before speeches use that to motivate yourself by imagining the moments right before you go on stage. These imagined nerves can help push you to put in that extra effort and practice.
Tell a story. John is famous for his use of storytelling to teach his lessons and every audience he speaks to loves to hear him tell a story. Don’t think you have anything significant enough to share? You’re wrong. You just haven’t perfected telling your stories yet. Think about family trips, holidays, moments with kids, times in your childhood, significant events, and major milestones. We all have stories from our human experience that can be used to illustrate a point, teach a lesson, or make a difference. Pro tip: You can tell others stories or use metaphors by simply starting with a phrase like: “A mentor of mine tells how…” Or “I heard of a person who..” Think about how you can incorporate stories that aren’t necessarily your own.
A final word of advice: If you speak negatively or critically to yourself, you’ll assume your audiences are thinking the same about you and you’ll fall flat. Just like charity starts at home, speaking starts with the self. Start with positive self-talk and your public speaking will improve by leaps and bounds.
Nothing is more magical than connecting with an audience and seeing your words be relevant and meaningful to their lives. Even if you don’t aspire to be the next John Maxwell, sharpening your public speaking skills is rewarding-and learning from the best is just plain smart. It will propel you forward in organizations, institutions, social settings, and even in your relationships. If you’re ready for John’s help in becoming a public speaker, click here to find out about becoming certified in the Maxwell Method of speaking and joining the global professionals of the John Maxwell Team.
Shila Morris is a classic entrepreneur at heart with several businesses and interests. She is the President and co-owner of the Squeeze In breakfast and lunch restaurant chain and has helped the business grow from one location to five and break into the franchising industry. She is also vice-president and co-owner of YoungSocial, a marketing, events and communications agency for high profile clients. Shila is passionate about helping business owners and entrepreneurs become successful and often volunteers and speaks to groups across the United States on the topics of leadership, restaurant industry, marketing and motivation. Her appearances include delivering a TEDx speech at the University of Nevada Reno, introducing First Lady Michelle Obama at a local event, and teaching workshops on marketing for the John Maxwell Team at the biannual International Maxwell Certification. She lives in Reno Nevada with her husband Chad and their three children Wesley, Emerie and Annadelle and is currently studying at the University of Nevada Reno for her Masters degree in Sociology.