Speaking with confidence

Tips for Speaking with Confidence

Personal communication skills and confidence go hand in hand for almost all professionals. Your academic education, your professional training, combined with your intelligence and positive attitudes, have made you a highly competent professional. Yet, only when you are able to communicate, especially verbally, and with confidence, your strengths can be manifested and appreciated. This is what we mean by personal communication skills. If you aspire to any type of management, mentoring or leadership role in your work, no matter what your area of expertise, your personal communication skills will determine how far you are able to go.

This article is written to address the challenges that face many professionals, whose reading and writing skills exceed their listening and speaking skills, who experience fear of speaking, and who strive to achieve a high level of confidence in their personal communication.

Listening and speaking skills not on a par with reading and writing skills

In the traditional professions — particularly law and accounting, there is a considerable gap between writing skills and speaking skills.

This gap can be explained in terms of the academic requirements and training in these professions

In the first place, those professions attract people who are intellectually curious and who have an affinity for rigorous academic and professional training. Most, but obviously not all, lawyers and accountants prefer to reflect on important issues and write and read about them — as a way of energizing themselves. Between academic and professional training, most lawyers and accountants engage in work activities in solitude. Furthermore, 90% of their studies and training are completed through the mode of reading and writing.

The corporate culture also plays a role in this disparity between writing and verbal skills

Lawyers and accountants typically spend a large percentage of their time speaking to their colleagues who are in tune with their own style and jargons, their tendency to use somewhat formal, written language is often entrenched.

There is less demand on a day-to-day basis for lawyers and accountants to “think on their feet”. Most of our clients tell us that they do 90% of their communication at a keyboard. Most lawyers value their early morning, evening, and weekend opportunities to keep up with their work — and so the habit of communicating in solitude and by writing is even more intensified.

Dire Consequences

The lack of Personal performance skills becomes an obstacle to further career advancement.

In the corporate boardrooms, where personal communication skills are in high demand, there are a higher percentage of extroverted professionals, many of whom have risen through the ranks because they are particularly good at verbal communication. In situations like this, traditional professionals feel that they are at a disadvantage. Their interest is not so much in becoming a “star.” But they feel that the level of their speaking skills does not accurately reflect their professional competence.

Failure in bringing in business

Many young lawyers are shocked to discover that professional competence is only the beginning. The ability to bring in new business is often the determining factor in a lawyer’s success. Most lawyers’ personality types are at odds with the idea of gregariously “selling” oneself. Socializing with clients and potential clients is often out of their comfort zones. It is not surprising that the legal profession is not noted for its sales and marketing abilities.

Marketing is one of the greatest challenges to a law firm. There is generally not much instinct for self-promotion – and marketing is seldom given the priority it deserves. Ask the marketing manager of almost any law firm in North America — and they will tell you, in no uncertain terms, how difficult it is to get lawyers involved in the marketing and sales process.

Good verbal communication is marketing. Arguments, proposals, ideas and advice all need to be “sold.” Sooner or later the potential buyer is going to want a “live” meeting. If the verbal communication doesn’t match the written material, the “deal” may be off! Indeed, without a high level of communication skills, a law firm simply cannot sell itself.

The good news is that by simply developing personal communication skills, you can achieve your sales and marketing goals.

Our Approach and the Commanding Presence Programs

Over 80% of our clients are subject experts and highly skilled in communicating through reading and writing. Our work is simply to facilitate the natural blossoming of these talents into live, in-the-moment, self-expressions. This may seem counter-intuitive — but for 25 years now we have been helping professionals to make the transition to highly effective speaking on a regular and consistent basis. When intelligent subject experts focus their attention on their speaking ability, they are able to combine their intellectual curiosity, discipline and their passion for the subject into an extraordinarily high level of personal communication skills. Once the initial transition is made, the growth is exponential.

The Commanding Presence Programs have been designed to implement this fundamental approach, along with a set of systematically developed techniques to address the various impediments in the development of personal communication skills.

Obstacles in Developing Communication Skills

The benefits of having a high level of personal communication skills and the dire consequences of not possessing those skills should make professionals wildly enthusiastic about developing those skills. However, many professionals have not yet been able to overcome certain obstacles to achieving their goal pf becoming a master speaker.

Over the past 25 years of working with lawyers, accounts, and professionals in various organizations, we have found that the following are the most common issues that frustrate them whenever public speaking is involved:

1. Fear of Speaking

2. Not sounding credible

3. Not being able to think “in-the-moment”

4. “Blanking”

In part two of the article, I will deal with each of these issues — and I hope to prove that every one of them can be relieved or eliminated very quickly.

These are just a few quick tips on developing a Commanding Presence. For more training on developing a Commanding Presence, managing anxiety, and increasing your speaking skills to the same high level as your writing skills then you should attend one of our Commanding Presence Advanced Communication and Presentation Skills Two-Day workshops.

The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.

Participants are recorded 4 times with feedback from the other participants and personal coaching from the workshop coach. Each receive a USB of their video clips along with a letter of analysis from the workshop coach.

Cure_fear_of_speaking

Help! I Have to Speak in Public.

It is said that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death.

If you’re one of those ‘give me death but not a podium’ people, imagine for a moment never again having to be afraid of taking centre stage…never again being afraid of getting up or speaking in front of a group of people, never again delivering a weak message or muddied points, but instead having the confidence to say just the right thing at just the right time.

Sound too good to be true? It is…unless someone shows you exactly how to do it.

That’s right; there’s a method; there’s training and coaching, and there’s a way to practice. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO, CFO, VP, Team Leader, Internal Auditor (or Prime Minister, Premier, on-air announcer, journalist, or movie star for that matter) ‒ anyone who needs to get up in front of others to say or explain something, can learn how to do it effectively…and just as effectively as the small percentage of the population who naturally shine in the spotlight. The rest of us however, need help.

With the proper training and coaching, we can:

  • formulate our thoughts so we can say less and say it better;
  • manage (aka reduce or eliminate) our anxiety;
  • put ourselves in a centered and powerful state before we speak;
  • pause to make sure our message has landed;
  • speak from notes in an authentic, conversational manner;
  • reveal the richness of our true character.

Many people also have fears about impromptu speaking. A survey of consultants, accountants, and senior executives in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom (2006 – 2018), consistently showed high levels of apprehension about unscripted speaking. The respondent’s primary concerns? Blanking or responding poorly in the moment. Not sounding credible. Not knowing if all the points had been made.

Luckily, the training and coaching used for speech-giving or for a formal presentation (i.e.; how to manage anxiety; say less and say it better; pause to make sure our message has landed) can also be applied to impromptu speaking. And as speech-giving, presentations, and impromptu-speaking share the same underlying challenges (1. You have a finite amount of information you can deliver; 2. You have limited time; 3. You must ensure the information you deliver can be transferred into your listener’s long-term memory), those challenges can all be met by using the Rule of Threes. Say what you’re going to say. Say what you want to say. Say what you said. If you are concise, your message will echo in everyone’s mind.

People who speak English as a second language with an accent face an additional challenge…one that is largely made in their own minds. ‘But I have an accent,’ they say, ‘and I’m really conscious of it when I speak.’

Here’s our take on that:

First and foremost, this land is a land of immigrants. Lots of people speak with accents. We are accustomed to it. More importantly, we respect those accents; we know the kind of brain power it takes to not only learn a new language, but communicate complex business ideas in a new tongue.

Second, just because you have an accent doesn’t mean you can’t deliver a potent message, give a dynamic speech, or lead impromptu talks in a compelling way. People get promoted, are elected, or succeed because they’ve learned how to get their message across, so unless your accent is so strong that you can’t do that, it holds no importance in your listener’s minds. Don’t let it hold any importance in yours.

So, stop being afraid of public speaking. No more excuses and no putting it off.

Get out there, learn the skills and get the right kind of coaching so you can become the powerful person you truly are.

These are just a few quick tips on developing a Commanding Presence. For more training on developing a Commanding Presence, managing anxiety, and increasing your speaking skills to the same high level as your writing skills then you should attend one of our Commanding Presence Advanced Communication and Presentation Skills Two-Day workshops.

The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.

Participants are recorded 4 times with feedback from the other participants and personal coaching from the workshop coach. Each receive a USB of their video clips along with a letter of analysis from the workshop coach.

4-Essential tips of public speaking

4 Tips for a Commanding Presence

Your public speaking ability affects so many areas of your life. It impacts how well people understand and commit to your ideas, it allows you to persuade, encourage and motivate people, it helps you to build relationships, both in your career and personal life. But it’s also one of the most terrifying things you might do in your life. Is that how you feel? You’re not alone. But don’t worry. Here are just a few things to help:

1. Identify your own strengths

Everyone has a different speaking style. And we all have our own strengths. Being a great public speaker isn’t about finding out what you’re doing wrong and then trying to fix them. It’s about finding your strengths and building on them to enhance your own unique speaking style. So take out a pen – write down what you’re good at, and try to enhance those qualities in your next presentation!

2. Speak from your own experience

“When you speak from notes, you’re going to sound like a robot.”

Do you agree with that statement? You might agree, or you might not. When we speak at people, saying “If you do this,” or “When this happens to you,” we instantly put a gap between ourselves and our audience.

But what if instead, we say, “I find that whenever I speak from notes, this happens.” Suddenly it’s a narrative, and we’re able to compare our experiences with the speaker. We’re engaging our audience.

3. It’s not about how interestingING you are, It’s how interestED you are

Imagine you’re talking to your best friend, but you’re scanning around the room, looking over their head. You would never talk to someone like that! But on a stage, that’s what many of us do!

Public speaking is all about eye contact and controlling the room. It’s about engaging your audience, reading them from moment to moment and adapting your presentation to fit their needs. Be interested in them, and they’ll be interested in you.

4. Speak interactively

Studies at Oxford University and the University of California studying conversation and understanding have figured out that there are three more modalities when you are talking to people. When you’re talking to people they understand you based on three things:

  • 7% Words/what you have to say
  • 55% Visual/body language
  • 38% Tone of voice

Turns out that in many situations the real meaning of what you’re saying is dependent on these two aspects, visual and tone of voice. If 55% is visual and you haven’t cultivated a habit of looking at people while you’re talking to them in a business context, you’re in a lot of trouble. You’re in a lot of trouble. Tone of voice is another issue.

The last is words. The question, how much of your professional development have you actually spent working at a conscious level on voice and visual? For most people at a conscious level, not very much. Of course, you develop the skill. It’s not an artificial skill. It’s something that we have innately. The good news is that you speak most effectively when you’re speaking interactively. Throughout your entire life you’ve been doing it, but for some reason, or for a number of reasons, people abandon this highly sophisticated communication skill when they’re in a business meeting and then they become a mouthpiece of information. They become a kind of robotic deliverer of text. Awful.

Did you know your tone of voice makes up 38% of how well someone will understand you? That’s a huge percentage! People decide who we are based on how we speak. But we all have a different tone of voice. Our perception of someone with a very nasal voice will be completely different from our perception of a person with a very deep, throaty voice. Identifying your natural speaking voice and removing any unconscious habits that may distract people from your message will instantly improve your public speaking abilities.

These are just a few quick tips on developing a Commanding Presence. For more training on developing a Commanding Presence, managing anxiety, and increasing your speaking skills to the same high level as your writing skills then you should attend one of our Commanding Presence Advanced Communication and Presentation Skills Two-Day workshops.

The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.

Participants are recorded 4 times with feedback from the other participants and personal coaching from the workshop coach. Each receive a USB of their video clips along with a letter of analysis from the workshop coach.

Participants will learn how to:

Master Eloquent Speaking

  • Think on their feet and respond persuasively and eloquently in one-on-one situations, meetings and large audience situations
  • Effectively use the Focus Method to communicate complex ideas and thoughts
  • Manage their fear of speaking

Become a Charismatic Communicator

  • Master charismatic communication skills, such as how to “be in the moment”
  • Make sincere eye contact
  • Speak effectively from notes
  • Utilize effective platform and meetings skills
  • Learn powerful gestures and movement while communicating
  • Effectively deliver financial and complex data and powerful PowerPoint

Rediscover the Power of their Natural Voice

  • Assess and evaluate their voice quality
  • Perform a wide range of exercises and simple practices to improve the warmth, resonance, and richness of their voice
  • Utilize exercises to improve their voice on a daily basis
  • Improve their diction with simple techniques
  • Manage their speaking anxiety with relaxation techniques​