While I sit here and listen to a group of extremely intelligent men speak on economic growth, I can’t help but be bored to death with their lack of any ability to hold my attention. The first speaker threw in some jokes to keep our attention but his delivery and tone just wasn’t enough to captivate us. The second speaker steamrolled through each slide as if he was on a time limit before a bomb dropped. I literally have no clue what he said or what his speech was about. And currently the guy at the podium has cleared his throat in the mic fifteen or so times leaving everyone to roll their eyes. Not to mention he has asked for technology assistance twice as he said out loud, “I’m not sure what I’m doing with this (computer).”
Needless to say, it leads to the thought of how important your public speaking skills are, and it’s possible they may be holding you back.
It’s perfectly normal to feel nerves when walking up to the podium to address a large group of people and it’s normal to feel nervous in front of a small group of peers in your office. Both are situations in which you have to captivate the audience and speak words that will engage, motivate and excite the audience. The reason that comedians have someone else go out and warm up the crowd before they start is because they want all the blank stares and awkward notions to exit the room before they walk out and address the crowd.
You don’t always have the ability to rely on someone to warm up your crowd, so improving your speaking skills on your own should become a priority.
It’s possible that your inability to captivate or hold an audience is holding you back from promotion within the company. It was announced yesterday that Marisa Mayer fired her newly hired “Ad-Guru” and it is not a coincidence that today a video surfaced of his ill-fated presentation several months ago which included his poor content and inability to captivate the crowd. This was a man that was given a $60 million compensation package and essentially lost his job after 15 months due to a combination of clearly his poor production but also due to the fact that he couldn’t captivate a crowd.
What gets lost in the shuffle is we are asked to captivate people every minute of the day. You don’t have to stand in front of a room of five hundred people to prove you have great public speaking skills. Your skills can be tested in a meeting of six or in the hallway with a peer. Stop for a second and think of the person in your office with the weakest public speaking skills. Chances are this is the same person who struggled to look you in the eye and stutters his or her way through a brief conversation.
I promise you that person will not be promoted the next time a promotion opportunity exists.
Captivating an audience is bigger than just being able to write and produce good content. You need to focus on your appearance first. The fourth speaker that just took the stage is the best dressed and his voice is carrying better than anyone, and we are actually listening to this gentleman. He was animated and stepped back from the podium and gave us a reason to not only listen but to watch as well.
Of course, your content needs to give people a reason to watch and listen. Consider using pictures that captivate instead of boring charts and figures. Use text that is different than the norm and animations that give people a reason to look for the next slide. Your content will be half of the reason that people pay attention and if it bores you to put together, it will bore your audience to watch.
Your public speaking skills could be holding you back from success and more importantly a promotion within your company. Consider finding a conference or seminar that you can attend to grow your skills and comfort level. Without a strong communication and speaking ability, your promotion will be given to your peer, who can address a crowd, and a small group of people.