Occasionally, we'll have someone in our Executive Seminar tell us, "I don't do a lot of public speaking in my work."
Yet, they're taking our public speaking class. Someone in their company believes their ability to present is important. And it is.
Even when you don't do a lot of speaking in the job you have now, it's almost certain you'll need to be able to make presentations as you move through your career. Don't miss out on the opportunities that are coming your way.
Here are some ways to develop your presentation skills—and your confidence—even when public speaking is not part of the work you're doing now.
If you're running a meeting, it's a great time to work on opening strong. Just as in a presentation, a meeting can benefit from a brief open that's designed to hook the audience—telling them what your meeting is about and why they should care. If you lead a weekly or daily meeting, a strong open can change the tone and engagement, taking it from a routine slog to a must-attend session.
If you're not leading, you can look for opportunities to speak up. Even introducing yourself in a round-the-table check-in can be a chance to work on what you say and how you say it with confidence.
Let it be known that you'd like to help give tours of your facility or host visitors, if that's an option. Then prepare your message and deliver it to this small and casual but important audience. You'll get practice in thinking on your feet, building audience rapport, and answering questions.
Have a group of interns who can benefit from your expertise? Offer to host a little session for them. Or teach your co-workers how to do something--follow branding guidelines, use a new piece of equipment, properly fill out an expense report.
Teaching and public speaking aren't exactly the same thing, but they build the same skills. You'll get practice in making something complex easier to follow. You can work on reading the audience to assess their understanding and engagement. And you can see how gestures and body language can make a lesson come to life.
If your company sends employees into the community or to speak at schools, volunteer. United Way drives and college career days are typical opportunities within many companies. Speaking to young students—elementary and middle school classes—can be a terrific, low stress way to work on your message and your confidence.
Museums, community advocacy groups, and churches are just three types of organizations that need volunteers to step up and deliver messages. Consider how you might follow your passions and find opportunities to speak as a museum docent, event organizer, board member, or teacher. One extra advantage here: It's that much easier to become the servant of your message.
Perhaps you've always wanted to try improv comedy. Maybe you captain a recreational tennis team or host a book club. These can be fun, low-stakes opportunities to stretch your delivery, provide information or inspiration, and practice your speaking skills, too.
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