There isn’t much difference between talking to just one person, to a small group, or to a wide audience. While you do have to talk a little louder with the latter, the kind of talk that usually goes on at a meeting does not deviate much, in essence, to the talk that goes on when you’re at a party. Therefore, if you’re asked to speak in front of a group, do not fret. Think of it as just having a conversation with one audience unit.
When you’re speaking to a group, you are speaking with a purpose. That is, you want your listeners and viewers to think, feel, and respond by doing something. Thus, public speaking is a responsibility.
But, before you balk at the thought of being ‘responsible’ for something, realize that being an influential speaker does not really require the knowledge of rocket science. You don’t have to memorize all the contents of the latest encyclopedia edition to hold influence over an audience.
What makes an influential and effective speaker?
– A good speaker has a sense of responsibility. Thus, he is careful with the things that come out of his mouth. He doesn’t bite more than he can chew; nor is the information he is supposed to impart spread thin.
– A good speaker is enthusiastic and alive. He is aware that he is speaking to a group of people with diverse interests and moods. He catches the audience’s attention by being himself, genuinely enthusiastic about the topic he is discussing.
– An influential speaker is one who keeps his head. He doesn’t let the opportunity to own the limelight as a chance to grandstand everyone else.
– An influential speaker has a sense of leadership. He speaks with authority, stands up straight, makes eye contact and speaks in a concise and straightforward manner. He injects humor into his speech, but doesn’t get carried away with just making small talk.
– A good speaker has a sense of time. He knows that the people had set aside a part of their lives to listen to what he has to say. He does not waste his and everybody else’s time by engaging in empty topics.
Of course, nobody is without fault. If you, as the speaker, make a mistake or give false information, acknowledge the error and make the correction right away. Don’t keep apologizing and get to the next point immediately after you’ve made the correction. Apologizing incessantly will not only make you look like a novice, but it will also reduce your credibility as an effective speechmaker. The more awkward you seem, your influence radar decreases.
When you are speaking in front of an audience, it means you have something substantial to say; that which will affect the people who listen to you. Do not waste this opportunity by beating around the bush.
The fact that you were given the chance to speak to a group means you already have some sort of influence on them because they were willing to set time aside for you. Take care of this gift very well. Yes, influence is not something you just impose on people. It is something you earn by gaining the confidence and respect of others.
By John Moore