- “You don’t have to be great to start; you have to start to be great” – Zig Ziglar
The subject of public speaking has been one of the arts that people consider challenging. In this material, I seek, among others, to demystify the rather scary pedigree attributed to the amazing science of communicating with people. I would like to assure you that you are already a public speaker and you have no option of participation or boycotting; you always speak in public.
One time I spoke with a lady early in the morning, and as I remarked on her unusual glamour that morning, she agreed with me it was a reflection of an inner joy. She reported: “My presentation went so well yesterday”.
I want to begin this message by telling you how romantic public speaking can be. Let no one take the joy of speaking from you.
To begin with, take a KISS. Yes, KISS. The acronymic KISS is elaborative for Keep It Simple and Sweet. For every message you intend to share with any group of audience, as best as possible if it is within your capability, keep it simple and sweet. Keeping your message rather short creates an unusual demand for you to make subsequent presentation to your audience. You whet their appetite. One of the functions of a well-distilled, simple and sweet message is the effect it creates in the minds of the people. They leave your presence, but carry your message.
There is yet another acronym which remains fundamental to public speaking, it in a large sense runs with KISS. This acronym sounds: FROL. It says, First things are remembered. Repeated things are remembered. Odd things are remembered, and your guess is right – Last things are remembered. The next time you are speaking with any group of people – greater than or equal to one – note that your first line of sentence, your first paragraph or introduction has an amazing impact on your listener(s).
This effect remains powerful like a well-guided missile; it doesn’t miss its impact. The results your opening message creates to your audience is often the same as the messages or lines that you emphasise on. Therefore, if you want people to remember some main things, either say it first, say it last, repeat it for emphasis or explain in an unusual way.
There is something we can learn from the mother hen. It is how the mother hen hovers ‘envelopingly’ on the eggs. This is called brooding. It is a conscious and consistent effort of providing heat to the eggs. It is not done one day, not two days, but consistently. To be a successful speaker, you need to brood over your message. You need to be in a daily practice of revising your message, speaking it to yourself, meditating upon it. Yes, doing everything to keep the message fresh in your mind. Charge the electrons in your message daily. You do not have to wait till you are called on to do a presentation before you rehearse. As you brood over your message it becomes a part of you. The message becomes alive to you and responds to you as and when you need it.
Most times in my public speaking sessions, I ask participants to share from their experiences. It is amazing the flow in the presentations. It sounds as if these participants had prior knowledge about this, for them to prepare. But you know what, although my students do not have prior knowledge, they have always been preparing for a day to deliver this message. The message has been boiling within them. It sought for escape.
There is another element connected to the concept of brooding. This is what I call YLM-Your Life Message. Your Life Message is the unique story or message that you carry. It is special to you. It is what you have experienced. Indeed no one had the same upbringing that you had, and went systematically through the changes, training and transformation that you have encountered. You are unique. You carry a unique story. Your audience are always ready to listen to you share this. Why? One, because it is unique; two, because it is rich; and three, because you can say it with flair; you make it natural.
It is more as if you spent twenty years or thirty years or rather your entire life preparing for this message. You can do something now. If you are a beginner, and battling with crafting your own message, I want to tell you something, you have got your own message! Wait, you have got several of them.
You can start doing something amazing from now. As you go through your work schedule, school, lectures or other endeavours you find yourself in, carry a writing material – a notebook, notepad, yes, your phone or tablet. Write down the titles of messages that you believe are unique to you, messages that are more like Your Life Message. Instead of looking for titles from a book, why not search from within yourself. You are a storehouse of amazing stories, untold speeches and applaud-winning presentations.
One interesting thing about sharing Your Life Message is the authority and, if you like, the audacity you carry to share it. There is a direct link to this and it is often called RTS – Right To Speak. RTS is the right that a speaker has to share a subject. A speaker would gain the attention of an audience if the speaker has acquired an appreciable amount of RTS. What would be your reaction if a young lady who is yet to get married decides to do a presentation on ‘Recipe for a Sustainable Marriage’. How many couples would give this damsel the kind of attention she deserves? Well probably they would give her the kind she deserves – little attention.
Right to speak may be acquired from an experience that the speaker has gone through or rather, a subject of study for which the speaker is an authority in.
Now when you have gained the right to speak through your life message, or rather your experience and/or your subject of study, one fundamental principle is enthusiasm. You can say this loud – ‘Enthusiasm is Contagious’. Say it loud and be enthusiastic about it: Enthusiasm is contagious. It is a powerful force that radiates to your audience. Make it obvious that you are passionate about what you are saying.
Show that you are excited about what you are sharing. If it is a complicated subject, be excited about how pragmatic you can make the message to your audience. Yes, it is also a part of KISS that is Sweet. Show an earnest passion to share your message with your audience, but not just that, show that the message is alive. It is not something that you are reciting verbatim from a book, but something that has been palpitating in your bowels, seeking escape.
Indeed, you do not have to be great to start. You need to start to be great.
>>>the writer is a corporate trainer, professional ghostwriter and publishing consultant assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency. You can contact the author via: [email protected]