Leadership often requires public speaking. Whether you are speaking to a small room of people or an audience of thousands, how can you increase your power in public speaking? Here are 4 ways:
1. Passion is Powerful
I love discovering someone’s passion. You’re at a backyard BBQ, or you’re at a networking event at a conference, and you’re running through all the basic info—name, job, where you grew up, etc. When all of a sudden, you hit on a topic, and the person’s eyes light up. They lean in and the energy and excitement in their whole demeanor spikes. You found an area of passion.
You could be passionate about your job, industry, cause, book, family, idea, country, brand, restaurant, band, pet, app, or so much more. Passion is powerful. When you speak publicly, use the power of passion! Tap into your passion. What are you passionate about? Obsessed with? Share a story about any passion area as an illustration or introduction to a speech, and watch the impact.
2. Purpose is Powerful
Passion is powerful, but let’s face it, sometimes we’re passionate about stuff that doesn’t really matter. There were a few weeks (months?) in my life where everyone I met heard about how much I loved my new Sonicare toothbrush. High passion, low purpose. Knowing your why taps into the power of purpose. Why are you here? Why are you speaking? Why should people listen to you?
Knowing your why brings clarity to your what. And knowing your what helps focus your talk for maximum impact. What are you trying to accomplish with your speech? What do you want people to know, feel, and do as a result of your talk? The higher your purpose, the more power you will have in public speaking (and in life, as well).
3. Personal Connection is Powerful
Even if you’re in a crowd of thousands, you connect more to ideas shared in a talk if it seems that the speaker is speaking to you. As a pastor, I’ve spoken publically on hundreds of occasions to audiences large and small. A trick I’ve learned is to speak to one person at a time, no matter how many people are in the crowd. Why? Because personal connection is powerful.
When you speak, don’t speak to the crowd, speak to the person. When you look someone in the eyes as you speak, you subconsciously tune your speech based on the subtle nonverbal feedback you are getting from them. That personal connection helps you as a speaker and is compelling to the crowd. (Note—I’m not saying to freak people out with intense, prolonged eye contact. Don’t be weird.)
Also, if you don’t know your audience, try to find out more about them. The event planner should be helpful with that or talk to a few people in the audience before you have to speak. This time will always be worth your investment. What’s the average age or life stage of your audience? What will they think is funny? What are their hopes, dreams, fears, failures? Knowing who you are talking to is one of the most critical questions to answer for any speaker.
4. Posture is Powerful
Have you ever seen a dynamic public figure, mighty in word and deed, who slouched? Or stood wilted, like they spent too much time in the sun? Wouldn’t that just be weird? In public speaking, your posture makes a big difference. Stand up straight. Imagine you have a string tied to the top of your head and someone is gently lifting you up. This will naturally bring your words to life. Don’t nervously shuffle your feet while you talk. Stay planted in one place and if you move, do so calmly and purposefully. Use your hands naturally but be careful you don’t repeat the same gestures unthinkingly.
Posture is powerful because you are physical as much as you are emotional, relational, spiritual, etc. Your speech is inextricably linked to you as the speaker. People want to see the light in your eyes. People want to be inspired and moved. And this is all worth the effort! Afterall, you have something important to share, right? Something you are passionate about that’s connected to your higher purpose? If you can make a personal connection and speak from a posture of power, who knows what your impact might be!! Do you have any tips for public speaking? Or public speaking fails? Leave a comment below.