Public speaking can be important both during your schooling as well as out in the working world. I’m more of an introvert than extrovert, and this made it slightly more difficult to get used to speaking in front of other people. Moving from college — an atmosphere where I already had to face my public speaking demons — into the hospitality business, a career in which I was out in the public eye much of the time, I found that an increasing part of my job was geared toward and around public speaking.
From making presentations to daily meetings and training sessions, I realized that being a good public speaker made a difference in not only how I was perceived by those in school, but to my success in the working world as well.
Like They Say…Practice Makes Perfect
Speaking in front of others can help to hone your skills and become accustomed to something that many of us aren’t used to doing on a regular basis. Doing something that I at first felt quite uncomfortable with, soon started to feel commonplace, and in some ways I even found that I began to enjoy it after doing it on a regular basis.
Go in With a Plan
Even though I eventually began to feel more at ease with speaking in front of other people, I still liked to go in to a meeting, discussion or presentation with some idea of what I wanted to say. If nothing else, having an outline of what I wanted to convey helped to keep me on track and from straying off topic and wasting other people’s time as well as my own.
Short and Sweet
I used to have a boss who would go on and on when he would have meetings. I would look around at heads sleepily nodding, zombie-like stares, and other signs of general disinterest from his listeners.
While as his assistant, I also had to suffer through these meetings, doing so taught me a valuable lesson. By keeping my public speaking concise, interesting, and to the point, I was able to make my presentations more poignant and in most cases (at least I hope), avoided completely boring my audience.
Perfect Your Tone
A voice can be like any other muscle in your body; the more you work with it and tone it, the stronger it can become. I used to have a boss who was known for being able to address a large meeting room full of hotel staff while never having to utilize a microphone. He had a deep, commanding voice that almost demanded attention and that I always envied. While I could never imitate that voice completely, I did take notes from his presentations and incorporated some of the vocal inflections and variations into my own talks.
Confidence Breeds Confidence
Like practice making one better at public speaking, getting out there and actually doing it can also breed confidence in your abilities. This confidence can build upon itself, snowballing in a way, making public speaking seem more commonplace and less of an issue.
I found that after several years of speaking to others on a regular basis, I began to feel as though you could give me a topic, stand me up in front of a group, and that I could come up with something to say about that topic regardless of what it was. Such confidence can lead to trying new things in your speaking, presenting in new locations, in front of larger groups, and with different topics or subject matter, making the effort easier to undertake and the process less stressful.
If you’re heading to business school or on your way there I would recommend practicing with friends and family. If an online MBA program is what you’re heading towards, there too class participation will be expected via online interaction. Be it school or work, having good public speaking skills will always be helpful in the long run.