You will always have more energy and be able to engage your audience better if you stand when you speak.
If there’s a clear choice, and you are able, stand.
But sometimes, you have to make a judgment call. Often in business, our presentations are in conference rooms, boardrooms, or other meeting space and it’s not always obvious if you should stay seated or stand when making a business presentation.
Sitting is a safe choice but you risk having less energy and less engagement. Standing also may help others to see you better and hear you more clearly. Unless you think standing would cause others to think of you as awkward or arrogant, choose to stand.
If others are presenting before you and they choose to stay seated, don’t be afraid to break the mold.
Standing up just may help you to stand out. And in a competitive business environment, standing out can make the difference between winning the day or going home.
If you’re a leader and effective speaking isn’t one of your top priorities, then all of your other work priorities are at risk. You cannot be an effective leader if you are not an effective communicator. Things can’t get done correctly unless they are communicated clearly. Employees can’t be engaged unless they are inspired. Public speaking is an essential skill for a leader.
And yet, in study after study, managers say that they are uncomfortable talking with their own employees. That’s particularly alarming given that one of the primary things employees say they need to feel engaged and productive at work is regular, meaningful communication with their direct supervisors and other company leaders.
In the annual Phoenix Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” survey, communication consistently ranks as a major factor in employee satisfaction at work. Communication breakdowns can cost companies in terms of engagement, productivity, and retention.
What Employees Want to Hear
So, what do employees want to hear? Employees want authentic, transparent and ongoing dialogues with their leadership. They want their leaders to provide context and make sense of what’s going on. And they want to hear from their leaders in face-to-face meetings.
Public Speaking Not Your Strong Suit?
If you’re a leader and public speaking isn’t your strong suit, you can turn that around. Perhaps you’ve been struggling with it for years. Or maybe you just got promoted suddenly speaking is a much bigger part of your job. Maybe you got asked to speak at a special company event and you’re not prepared for it. Whatever the reason, you can gain the confidence and the skills to be a good speaker.
It’s not too late to make a New Years Resolution. It takes time and it takes practice, but you can become an effective speaker. And when you do, you’ll be a better leader.
I am honored to be featured as a guest writer on the Beverly Mahone Communications blog. I wrote about the power of face-to-face communication and storytelling in public speaking and business presentations.
When delivering a speech or making a business presentation, it’s easy to get caught up in all the data. It’s important to remember that facts and figures feed our brains but it is the stories we tell that stir our emotions and feed our souls. A compelling story combined with supporting data is a very powerful combination.
I recently saw the film “Darkest Hour, the dramatic story of Winston Churchill in his early days as Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II. Churchill was named Prime Minister in the midst of a crisis. Hitler’s military was overrunning most of Europe and was closing in on Great Britain. Most of Britain’s army was pinned down at Dunkirk on the French coast and it appeared they might be destroyed or all taken prisoner at any moment. It seemed nothing could stop Hitler.
The nation, and indeed the world, awaited to see Churchill’s response. Would Britain try to broker a peace or would they fight on against overwhelming odds?
Britain would fight on with dogged determination. As film dramatically depicts, it was the power of Churchill’s public speaking skills that tapped into the sentiment of the populace that made the difference. Churchill’s oratory turned the British policy from appeasement to “we will never surrender.”
For those of us who appreciate great speeches, the movie captures the drama of Churchill’s speeches and it also provides a fascinating behind the scenes look at how he dictated and crafted his powerful speeches.
“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
In the climactic scene, Churchill delivers his famous “We shall fight them on the beaches” speech to the House of Commons of the British Parliment. This was the speech that cemented Britain’s determination to resist — at all costs. As the speech reaches a crescendo, the audience bursts into an emotional applause. One of Churchill’s political foes asks a colleague “What just happened?” The other responded, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
It’s amazing to think of how very different world history might have been without Winston Churchill “mobilizing the English language.” Public speaking can change the world.
Change YOUR World
You might not be called upon to stir a nation to action, but how many opportunities in your career have you had to inspire a project team, to win over a client, or to persuade your boss? Public speaking can change your world.
But if public speaking has been holding you back in your career, why not make 2018 the year you change all that? Why not make being a skilled presenter a New Year’s resolution. It will take work and dedication, but you can become a confident and effective speaker if you have a good coach at your side and if you keep Churchill’s advice in mind: “Never, never, never give up!”
So, here’s to new beginnings, here’s to 2018, and here’s to YOU!
Don’t let public speaking hold you back in your career any longer. Imagine being able to speak with confidence anywhere, anytime. There’s no better time than right now to start investing in yourself.
We’re here to help you fulfill this New Years Resolution. Let’s talk about how we can work together to get you started being the kind of speaker that commands a room. You can get started right now by booking a free 30-minute Speaking Success Strategy Session.
We were honored to have three great guest bloggers the past year who wrote on a variety of public speaking topics. Before we put the pedal to the metal and race into 2018, let’s take a quick look in our rearview mirror at some of the wisdom that was shared with us this year.
Nayomi Chibana showed how to create visual slides your audience will remember. This is a must-read for anyone that uses PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi or other presentation software. Read the Post
Being really smart about what you do and being really good at talking about it doesn’t always go hand-in-hand. Beverly Mahone offers tips for those who are subject matter experts, but not necessarily expert public speakers. Read the Post
Audio/Visual technicians are the folks behind the scenes that make everything work on stage. Newton Koshi has seen a lot of business presentations and speeches and he provides public speaking tips from the unique perspective of an A/V expert. Read the Post
Thanks again to these experts for sharing these great public speaking tips for our blog. 2017 was a great year and we’re excited about what lies ahead. Heck, we’re just getting started.
Our Phoenix Business Journal “Speak Up and Stand Out” public speaking workshop is sold out but we just added a new one at Harmon Public Library in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 11:30 am. to 1:30 p.m. The $40 fee to attend includes a light lunch and a workbook.
This is a great way to start the New Year. Put public speaking fear in your rearview mirror in 2018!
I watched my friend Artesian Kirksey deliver an electrifying college commencement speech a couple of years ago. I had presented the commencement address at the same college the year before and had delivered it in a traditional manner, from behind a lectern. Commencement speeches are always delivered from behind a lectern, right?
When Artesian delivered his speech, the first thing he did was grab the microphone from the lectern and step out toward his audience. As soon as he did so, you could feel the excitement of the audience intensify. Even before he began to speak, you could feel the energy in the room increase. It was clear that this was not going to be a typical commencement speech — and it was not. He delivered a powerful and memorable speech.
Artesian’s bold move reinforced something I have believed for a long time: A lectern is a piece of furniture that gets between speakers and their audiences. And Artesian’s decision to ditch the lectern to deliver something as traditional as a commencement address shows that we can rethink all situations that seem to demand the use of a lectern.
You might not be called upon to deliver a commencement speech anytime soon, but you might find yourself giving a business presentation, offering a wedding toast, or presenting in any number of other public speaking situations where a lectern is present. Think about whether you really need that piece of furniture coming between you and your audience. Think about the audience engagement you can create without it. Think about how much more personal and authentic you will be without it.
Making connections with your audience and engaging them in your message are the keys to great speeches and powerful business presentations. Your decision to step out from behind the lectern might make the difference between a good speech and one that wows.
We are pleased to be part of the Phoenix Better Busines Bureau’s “Arizona Speakers Bureau.” You can find a listing for our own Paul Barton, as well as listings for many other Arizona speakers, on the local BBB website.
Paul’s topics include:
Speak Up and Stand Out: Secrets to Business Communication Success
Crisis Communication: Be Your Best When Facing the Worst
Finding the Voice of Your Brand
Maximizing Internal Communication
Fasten Your Seatbelts — The Future Starts Now (commencement address)
Of course, you also can find information about Paul’s speaking services right here on our website.
But we thought it was pretty cool to be listed by the BBB so we wanted to let you know.