When talking to people about public speaking one of the most common comments I hear is “I’ll never be as good a speaker as…..”. Closely followed by “I wish I could speak just like ……”.

We often spend so much time wishing we were someone else that we forget that we have our own individual skills that just need polishing to allow us to shine. It is when we try to be someone else that we more often than not fail and this is particularly relevant when it comes to public speaking.

One of the biggest traps we can fall into, in public speaking is to try to be some one else. It just won’t work. So the first thing you need to do is identify the skills that you already have. We all have something that works for us – it may be our voice, our humour, the way we work with words, the organisation of our speech or the lovely gestures that add impact. Get feedback on your presentations – from your friends, fellow workers, professional coaches and trainers – anyone that will listen and provide positive constructive feedback.

When you have identified what is working for you – then you need to check how well they are working. Are your skills in the embryo stage, are they reasonable or are they skills that really shine. Identify the ones that need polish and look for ways to polish them. Perhaps you have a good voice that needs a little more light and shade to make it a great voice; or the beginnings of gestures that could be expanded to present a complete image. Take on board the feedback you receive and work on your natural skills to take them to the next level.

Once you have identified what is working then you can look at what is not working for your audience. Perhaps your voice is too soft, you speak too fast, you don’t make eye contact or your nerves are inhibiting your presentations. Again listen to the feed back you receive – ask questions such as: What didn’t work for you, What areas do I need to enhance my presentations? You may need to get some training or personal communication coaching or you may be able to work on improving your skills yourself with some good feedback.

The important thing is to take on board constructive positive feedback and work to be your self not someone else. Believe me audiences very quickly identify when a speaker is not being themselves and are trying to present using another’s techniques. Your presentation will come across flawed perhaps even false. The audience will not readily buy into the message you are giving. Audiences are very forgiving to those who present as themselves naturally and passionately.

Remember if all else fails smile and the audience will smile back. Be true to yourself and you will soon shine as the public speaker you are meant to be.

Trish@ Trischel

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