Has your reluctance to speak in front of a group ever held you back with your business, career or personal life? If it has, you're in good company because public speaking ranks as one of the things Americans fear most.
We fear speaking in front of groups for a variety of reasons. Some of us fear being in the spotlight and having all the attention in the room focused on us. Others fear "messing up" since there will be a lot of people present if we make a mistake.
Whatever your reason, it is to your benefit to overcome this fear as it can open up some interesting opportunities for you. Consider the fact that as you're reading this article, there are people that you've never even heard of making tens of thousands of dollars to deliver a single speech to an audience.
Professional speakers, people who present for a living, can make upwards of $20,000 per speech and remain relatively unknown and celebrities can make even more (cyclist Lance Armstrong commands $75,000 for a two hour speech). Former President Ronald Reagan gave a speech a few months after he left office that paid him more than his eight years as President.
So what can speaking do for you? It depends on your goals.
If your goal is to climb the corporate ladder, speaking skills can accelerate your rise to the top. Presentation skills are critical for all corporate executives as they need to communicate with the people that work for them as well as groups outside of the company. Shining during presentations on those early steps can help you get the reputation of a rising star.
If you own a small business, giving presentations at industry conferences can quickly establish you as an expert in your industry.
Suppose there' a cause that you're passionate about such as cancer or heart disease. Speaking in front of groups is a great way to raise awareness and reach more people with your message.
Regardless of your goals, being able to speak in front of groups builds self-confidence and helps you communicate better. The skills you’ll learn as you become a better presenter will help you become better at job interviewing, selling, networking and even dealing with difficult people.
So do you think becoming a better speaker is unachievable? There are thousands of people out there that once feared public speaking and have since overcame their fears (some even make their living speaking in public). You can do the same by remembering my three P's of Powerful Public Speaking:
- Prepare: Take the time to research your topic and organize your talk for maximum impact.
- Practice: Public speaking is like exercising – you have to constantly do it to maintain your edge.
- Polish: Whether you take a course, join a speaker's club or just get feedback from friends, take the time to improve your presentation.
Becoming a better speaker can yield some powerful benefits for both your personal and professional life. All you need is the desire to become better at it and you'll start opening new windows of opportunity.
© 2007 James Feudo
James Feudo is a speaker, author and consultant specializing in communication skills. James has developed a series of programs to help people improve how they communicate with themselves, others and to groups. You can learn more about James at www.jamesfeudo.com and sign up for free tips delivered to your email inbox.