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Public Speaking – “Yeah, you have to…”

Few people do it; even fewer do it well. I’m not talking about oratory here. I’m talking about just being able to get up and express a coherent idea or thought without stumbling or bumbling through the presentation.

In my presentations to students at the University of Florida I try to stress the following benefits derived from public speaking:

Credibility
Presence
Leadership

Credibility: Credibility is hard to come by. However, when you stand up in front of people to speak you immediately gain credibility, no matter what you’re there to talk about. Very few people want to stand up and speak and those who step forward automatically are given that deference by the audience.

The flip side of that is that it’s yours to lose. If you’re not prepared, not practiced, or otherwise not ready then you will lose your audience and your credibility just as quickly. In fact, it could hurt professionally for some time to come.

Professional presence: When you speak you begin to establish what I call “professional presence.” When you’re comfortable with your material and can present it such a way that the average human being can digest and understand it you elevate yourself in the eyes of your audience.

A true professional is comfortable in his or her own skin when they stand up to speak. It shows.

Leadership. Anyone can communicate but not necessarily lead; however, no great leader can lead and not communicate to the masses. The ‘masses” don’t have to be many people. In the military the smallest unit is a team and it could be composed of no more than 4 people.

From that small team to the largest division, the military leader has to be able to communicate the plan to his or her unit. He or she must ensure they know the objective and understand the commitment needed to succeed.

In business you have the same objective – to be able to communicate your position, solution, idea or course of action. Doing so in a public forum allows your audience to see your confidence, hear your message and gives you the floor to “sell” your idea.

Many a bad situation has been turned around by a leader addressing the “troops” and selling a solution or course of action. Only a leader can do that – in public. An email simply won’t do.

Summing up: At some point, you will be asked to “get up and say a few words.” Doing it well will give you all the benefits mentioned above. Doing it poorly can cost you sales, embarrassment and opportunity.

Take another look at public speaking and see where it will help you, because “Yeah, you have to…”

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