Public speaking is one of the best ways I know to help you improve your life and career.
In addition to helping you stand out as a leader in your career, public speaking has an impact on everything you think, feel and do. The benefits transcend your career and will leak into your personal life.
I know because the lessons I have learned through public speaking have helped me become more social, confident and engaging. In this article, I want to share with you the 5 biggest ways public speaking can drastically improve your life
1) You Learn to Empathize:
The best public speakers know that every part of their speech is for the benefit of their audience. One of the biggest mistakes speakers make is centering their focus on themselves. You can always spot a speaker whose focus is on making himself look more intelligent or credible. These types of speakers make the audience uncomfortable and unsatisfied because of a lack of authenticity. The best speakers share stories to connect with their audiences as well as inspire and entertain.
To shift the focus from you to your audience, I want to take you through an exercise that has been very beneficial to me as a speaker.
Step 1. Picture the most important person in your life. This may be a sibling, a parent or a spouse.
Step 2. In your mind, place that treasured person in the third row of your audience.
Step 3. What is the main takeaway you want that person to receive from your speech? (Example: “friends are the family you choose”, “follow your dreams”, “don’t eat the yellow snow”, etc.)
Step 4. Condense that message into 10 words or less.
Step 5. Build your entire speech around that message.
This exercise helps you speak to your audience as if everyone was your closest friend, parent or sibling. When this practice leaks into the day to day conversations at work, you start to notice people are more engaged when you place a deeper value on them.
2) You Learn to Control Your Thoughts and Emotions:
Public speaking will give you awareness of what is going on between your ears. It will force you to notice your internal thoughts and inner critic. The best presenters still get nervous before getting on stage, they just know how to control their thoughts in order to turn nervousness into excitement. To take a quote from Buddha “all that we are is a result of what we have thought.” Right before getting up to speak in front of an audience, it is perfectly natural to get butterflies. The way you learn to control your thoughts and emotions is seen in the way you interpret these butterflies. By changing the pattern in your head from “I’m sick to my stomach with nervousness” to “I’m churning with excitement” you will manage your nerves and give presentations from a place of joy rather than fear.
Public speaking will also help you manage your emotions by teaching you to let things go. The projector will fail sometimes, you will forget a major point you wanted to make, your microphone will screech as you try to speak into it. The best way to deal with this is to take a deep breath and just let go. You learn to generate a positive state from within and be positive and insightful. Or you learn to be like a duck “calm on the surface but paddling like crazy underneath.”
As the concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl puts it “between stimulus and response, there is an empty space where we may choose how to react.” In everyday life, things happen to us that are outside of our circle of influence and we may spill coffee on our work clothes or our co-workers say something off-putting. It is by learning to control the way we interpret and respond to these situations that we can free ourselves from everyday distress.
3) You Improve Your Life by Learning from Failure:
I have given more speeches than I can count and some have been excruciating. My freshman year of college, I had to give a simple presentation about the United States to the international club. Thinking this would be easy, I went out that night and did not start to prepare for my presentation until 11pm. I left the library that morning, bleary-eyed and exhausted as the sun was rising. I skipped breakfast – except for a quick cup of coffee – and gave my speech an hour later. Jittery and incoherent, I found that my jokes were misinterpreted, my information was scattered and the question and answer period was dreadful. From this painful experience, I learned to always get a full nights rest before a presentation. My next presentation, with a full nights rest and a lot less caffeine, received excellent reviews.
Your life goes through cycles of ups and downs – victory and loss. One day you get a promotion and the next day you miss an important meeting. It is by picking ourselves up after falling and learning from failure that we find the greatest success.
4) You Learn to Apply Lessons from Public Speaking to Other Skills:
At the Magnetic Delivery Boot Camp, people are usually outside of their comfort zone when they are asked to speak in front of audiences. As the day progresses and they gain more hands-on practice and learn more about public speaking, they eventually cross a threshold and gain more confidence. This results in momentum and gives them faster results throughout the day because they are focused on their progress rather than their anxiety.
For you, the trick is to start where you’re a little bit uncomfortable and continually push your limits, eventually presenting to larger audiences, speaking off the cuff or volunteering for projects involving presentations at work. Once you get the hang of it, you will start to enjoy the process and love the results, continually striving to improve your communication.
Like basketball, pottery or cooking, public speaking is a skill that is developed with time and practice. Few people are naturally comfortable in front of large audiences just as few people can create a clay masterpiece. With the right attitude, help from a mentor and commitment to improving your abilities you will gain a confidence that people are amazed by.
5) Public Speaking Helps you Navigate the World:
We live in a world that is, obviously, dominated by humans. Business, politics, marriage and every other major part of our lives require communication. As one of the great communicators of our time, Tony Robbins puts it “the quality of your communication determines the quality of your life.” Public speaking – connecting and communicating with large groups of people – gives you a skill set and confidence that overflows into every aspect of your life.
In learning to effectively give a speech, you also improve the quality of every interaction you have, which magnifies your character and makes you a more engaging person. In public speaking, you learn to present yourself with strong body language, sincere tonality, and engaging eye contact. This enriches your everyday interactions and results in higher quality business relationships, friendships and marriages.
I have been to 22 different countries throughout Asia, Africa, South America and Europe and a big insight I have gained from my experiences has been that communication makes life so much easier. In many of the countries I have been to, English is taught as a second language and having the confidence to smile and say “where is the nearest bathroom?” has been incredibly useful. In addition, many of the conversations I have started while abroad have led to incredible experiences and meaningful friendships.
Public speaking is one of the most powerful skills you can develop because it gives you a confidence that improves every area of your life. I challenge you to take the next step with your public speaking skills and join the local Toastmasters, enroll in a speaking course or volunteer to give a presentation at work. The benefits are guaranteed to improve your long-term business, career and relationship success.