HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd

5 tips on improving your public speaking

If you want to be the next Josh Bersin, Peter Cheese or Leena Nair…
5 tips on improving your public speaking

5 tips on improving your public speaking


If you want to be the next Josh Bersin, Peter Cheese or Leena Nair…

 

“Public speaking is something that makes a sizeable majority of the population's blood run cold,” Nick Gold, CEO at Speaker’s Corner, a bureau for events speakers, tells HR Grapevine.

Anecdotally, many know he’s right. “Why would anyone risk themselves in front of an audience who are just there to critique and judge?“ he asks.“Taking it a stage further, for those who have levels of anxiety about themselves and their public persona, surely this is almost glutton for punishment and an immensely foolhardy approach to dealing with their anxiety.”

Even though Gold works with some of the, seemingly, most effortless public speakers – he counts the Founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne, Gordon Ramsay and Karen Brady, as well as journalist Andrew Marr, TV Presenter David Dickinson and model and actress Joanna Lumley, on his roster of speakers – he knows that public oratory can be incredibly difficult. He also knows it can be a significant part of the job for many typical business roles.

And, when trying to scale the career ladder, it can seem that public speaking comes with the territory – especially in HR. Some of the most public names in HR and work management – Josh Bersin, Leena Nair, David Green, Peter Cheese, David D’Souza, Matthew Taylor – all have one thing in common: they’re at the apex of their careers and speak in public fora is an important part of their role fulfilment.

Even on a less grand scale, public speaking can infiltrate all aspects of HR’s role. Whether this is taking a prominent role at a company town hall, presenting back to a team or even delivering training.

Gold understands this which is why HR Grapevine asked him to deliver his top tips for besting public speaking – whatever the scenario, whoever your audience, and at whatever stage of your HR career ladder you are on.

Nick Gold, CEO at Speaker's Corner

“Public speaking is something that makes a sizeable majority of the population's blood run cold”

  • 1You’ll more likely succeed at public speaking if you care about what you’re talking about
    “Any individual is much more likely to succeed in delivering a great speech if they care about the subject. Whether this be in a personal or professional area, the speaker must be clear in themselves if they believe in what they are saying.
    “Unfortunately, when speaking, you can’t fake it till you make it, as you only get one shot with your speech. Therefore, delivering a talk on something which you strongly believe in, is the cornerstone behind a successful speech.”

  • 2However scary it is, let the audience see who you really are
    “One piece of advice is to make it personal. Telling stories about themselves means that the speaker turns their speech in front of an audience into a night with friends swapping anecdotes and stories. It becomes a much less daunting prospect than the austere PowerPoint driven presentation that, for most people, the concept of a speech actually is (and of course, you keep the audience awake).”

  • 3Understand who your audience is
    “By taking the time to understand both the audience profile as well as the stage set up, will help the speaker get into a comfort zone that makes them feel at ease. By settling our concerns around the audience then we need to move on to the stage set up and taking time to understand what works best for you.”

  • 4The crowd is not your enemy
    “However much we all convince ourselves in our heads when we get on stage that we are like gladiators in the coliseum with the crowd braying for the speaker to be torn apart, the truth is that the audience are desperate for the speaker to be great and give them a good time.
    “There is nothing worse for an audience than a speaker who is failing on stage! Remember, they are a captive audience who are helpless in this situation, so what the audience want to do is be able to take a deep sigh of relief within the first 30 seconds of the speaker coming on stage, knowing that the speaker has ‘got this’ and the journey for both the speaker and the audience is a joint one that will bring happiness to everyone.”

  • 5There’s no right or wrong for what makes a successful speech
    “For instance, consider how you’ll deliver your talk, whether it should be from behind a lectern, striding across stage with a Madonna type headset, throwing your arms around in gesticulation or keeping them behind your back while you grasp a pen to avoid your incessant hand movements from nerves, there is no right or wrong there is only what you feel comfortable with to deliver the great speech you have prepared.
    “Don’t let the organiser dictate how you should be, instead take control of the environment so the best chance of success for the speech is put in your control.”

public speaking top

 

“Public speaking is something that makes a sizeable majority of the population's blood run cold,” Nick Gold, CEO at Speaker’s Corner, a bureau for events speakers, tells HR Grapevine.

Anecdotally, many know he’s right. “Why would anyone risk themselves in front of an audience who are just there to critique and judge?“ he asks.“Taking it a stage further, for those who have levels of anxiety about themselves and their public persona, surely this is almost glutton for punishment and an immensely foolhardy approach to dealing with their anxiety.”

Even though Gold works with some of the, seemingly, most effortless public speakers – he counts the Founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne, Gordon Ramsay and Karen Brady, as well as journalist Andrew Marr, TV Presenter David Dickinson and model and actress Joanna Lumley, on his roster of speakers – he knows that public oratory can be incredibly difficult. He also knows it can be a significant part of the job for many typical business roles.

Nick Gold, CEO at Speaker's Corner

“Public speaking is something that makes a sizeable majority of the population's blood run cold”

 

And, when trying to scale the career ladder, it can seem that public speaking comes with the territory – especially in HR. Some of the most public names in HR and work management – Josh Bersin, Leena Nair, David Green, Peter Cheese, David D’Souza, Matthew Taylor – all have one thing in common: they’re at the apex of their careers and speak in public fora is an important part of their role fulfilment.

Even on a less grand scale, public speaking can infiltrate all aspects of HR’s role. Whether this is taking a prominent role at a company town hall, presenting back to a team or even delivering training.

Gold understands this which is why HR Grapevine asked him to deliver his top tips for besting public speaking – whatever the scenario, whoever your audience, and at whatever stage of your HR career ladder you are on.

  • 1You’ll more likely succeed at public speaking if you care about what you’re talking about
    “Any individual is much more likely to succeed in delivering a great speech if they care about the subject. Whether this be in a personal or professional area, the speaker must be clear in themselves if they believe in what they are saying.
    “Unfortunately, when speaking, you can’t fake it till you make it, as you only get one shot with your speech. Therefore, delivering a talk on something which you strongly believe in, is the cornerstone behind a successful speech.”

  • 2However scary it is, let the audience see who you really are
    “One piece of advice is to make it personal. Telling stories about themselves means that the speaker turns their speech in front of an audience into a night with friends swapping anecdotes and stories. It becomes a much less daunting prospect than the austere PowerPoint driven presentation that, for most people, the concept of a speech actually is (and of course, you keep the audience awake).”

  • 3Understand who your audience is
    “By taking the time to understand both the audience profile as well as the stage set up, will help the speaker get into a comfort zone that makes them feel at ease. By settling our concerns around the audience then we need to move on to the stage set up and taking time to understand what works best for you.”

  • 4The crowd is not your enemy
    “However much we all convince ourselves in our heads when we get on stage that we are like gladiators in the coliseum with the crowd braying for the speaker to be torn apart, the truth is that the audience are desperate for the speaker to be great and give them a good time.
    “There is nothing worse for an audience than a speaker who is failing on stage! Remember, they are a captive audience who are helpless in this situation, so what the audience want to do is be able to take a deep sigh of relief within the first 30 seconds of the speaker coming on stage, knowing that the speaker has ‘got this’ and the journey for both the speaker and the audience is a joint one that will bring happiness to everyone.”

  • 5There’s no right or wrong for what makes a successful speech
    “For instance, consider how you’ll deliver your talk, whether it should be from behind a lectern, striding across stage with a Madonna type headset, throwing your arms around in gesticulation or keeping them behind your back while you grasp a pen to avoid your incessant hand movements from nerves, there is no right or wrong there is only what you feel comfortable with to deliver the great speech you have prepared.
    “Don’t let the organiser dictate how you should be, instead take control of the environment so the best chance of success for the speech is put in your control.”


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