Kickstart your public speaking journey

Use public speaking to tell your story and captivate your audience
Does this sound familiar: we get excited when we hear someone begin a story that is relevant to our journey, with relatable characters. Stories stimulate and capture our imaginations; they take us to places that we dream about, admire and aspire to. When we listen to a story we paint a picture and try to implement why, what and how to use the colours, people, images and sounds in the relationships we are trying to build together.

Let's discuss how we can elevate our personal brand through our public speaking skills in our next pitch, presentation, business meeting or an event.
Leverage your public speaking skills: start with giving
Why start giving?

For many years as an actress, I was fully immersed in the "character's story". I needed to find the desire to fully commit, to embark and engage on the character's journey. To be true to the character was to connect with my values, and embody the emotions physically by understanding why, what and how.

Take my story and think about how we perform and communicate our desires through our personal brand with others. Are we givers or takers?

Some of the loudest voices in the marketing field say: start with giving.

Let's question our CTA (call to action) at the end of our presentations; how do we want our potential customers and partners to feel after we have presented our message? Do you feel that you and your brand is a good fit in the relationship you will potentially have and is there a feeling of collaboration?

How do we celebrate collaboration success and not fall for the role of a taker only? Be it scaling up; kick-starting the bandwagon against all odds and competition. We flip Charles Darwin's notion "survival of the fittest" in finding the balance, where there is awareness, value and recognition. We feel giving back, keeping our environment green and trying to be there for people who are suffering, especially in these times, leads us to being true altruists.

Discovering and recognising the connection we make with our brain and our body emotionally; communicating it visually; also enhances our capabilities and partnerships we build with our customers, and levels up our communication styles and our values. A Cornell University professor, Frank, continues to onboard us with his 'commitment model':

  • When do we take that monumental breath?
  • Raise or lower our tone of voice?
  • Get our message across with the help of our facial muscles and eye movement?
  • And if I may add, how do we transfer our message through voice and body language online too?
What skill sets and patterns are you developing when communicating your message?
Here is a word we often hear: authenticity. but how can we achieve this?

  • Prepare to have a conversation with someone you feel comfortable with, record yourself and say it in front of the mirror.

  • Practice in different environments with different people because that gives you the boost to adapt, pivot and be real.

  • Be yourself - engage in what you care about

Start with listening to yourself. Just like we utilise A/B testing or feedback surveys for new products and services, we can test the waters and listen to what we have learnt by measuring and reflecting on what is and isn't working.

How do we deal with the fear of public speaking?

'Fear of not sounding professional'

'Fear of getting stuck'

'Fear of being misunderstood'

'Fear of making mistakes'

Try taking the words 'fear' and 'not' in these sentences and flip them to 'celebrating':

'Celebrating sounding professional'

'Celebrating getting stuck' because this is an opportunity to think out of the box, be creative and do it better because we have the audience in front of us now.

'Celebrating being understood'

'Celebrating making mistakes'

Our internal scripts can push back or push forward our communication skills. We are talking about performance but it is how we get there with the right mindset, tools, and collaborations.

Public speaking hacks

Beginning

If you are thinking: 'We have this fear of speaking at board of directors meetings and events because we create scripts that push back our confidence.'

Consider: 'and what if we reached out to a coach, to guide us through the difficulties of getting the right message across. Wait, we can.'

Middle

If you are thinking: 'We don't really understand what the board of directors want at the meeting or what is expected at the event.'

Consider: 'And what if we stopped making assumptions; did our due diligence, included in the presentation a time to engage and begin the collaboration together.'

Or 'We have feedback and are further dallying into the nuts and bolts.'

Consider: 'Begin self reflection with your performance and brand with your mentor.'

End

Call to action: 'We can successfully work together to create a roadmap.'

New inspiration:'Hang in there, start with yourself and your intra-communication skills; be aware, assess, learn and pivot.'

Communicate powerful stories and pivot

Begin with personal brand brainstorming.Test the waters. You may want to create a moodboard to get you started.

  • Know what your goals and expectations are.

  • Get well acquainted with your unique selling point (USP).

  • Who do you want to share this story with?

  • Where do your customers sit? Understand the space and sector.

  • What social media or online platform do we want to tell our story?

  • Remind ourselves: Why are we telling this story?

  • Begin to paint the picture with colours, emotions, how the words look like?

  • Find images that tell the story and think about the layout.

Use powerpoints/slide decks/infographics to supplement your presentation.

In closing

To end with a bang! Grab hold of awareness, conversation and collaboration on the way.

Let's think back to those unplanned moments.

We were ready to present and there were technical issues or even you stopped believing in what you were saying because you were distracted by the audience. Celebrate the stuckness and awkwardness by engaging with your audience. Our audience is here because you are the expert and want to 'give'. Rock with 'situation awareness' by breathing, channelling in a positive mindset and why you are presenting in the first place. Start the conversation with the audience and begin the collaboration.

Make those sassy decisions, become a strategic communicator and confident player when building your story roadmap; dive into ideas, characters, engagement, facts and data.

Vanessa Henry Epstein
Vanessa Henry Epstein is a generalist with a broad skill set across coaching, business development, project and customer success management with 20 years of experience in the field of business education. She has been partnering with eager individuals and groups in the tech space, telecommunication and corporate sectors, law firms and government establishments, who cannot afford to lose the next global deal to level up their communication skills. Connect with her via Linkedin or her website.
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