By Jonas Ezeanya.
If all my talents and powers were to be taken from me by some inscrutable Providence, and I had my choice of keeping but one; I would unhesitatingly ask to be allowed to keep the Power of Speaking, for through it I would quickly recover all the rest.
What do the words ‘public speaking’ bring to mind? Large halls and motivational speeches? Executive seminars where you listen to a speaker expert in some key area of business? Politicians at election time? Presenters using complex PowerPoint slides? These answers are all correct, but big events and big names are just the tip of the public-speaking iceberg. Public speaking embraces not only the formal settings for speeches but also myriad events in any businessperson’s day.
Public speaking affects every aspect of communication. It refers to your ability to get ideas across and to inform and persuade your audience—any audience. Even though most people admit to disliking it, everyone has to rely on his or her speaking abilities at one time or another. This could be in meetings, on the phone, when asking for a salary increase, or when explaining procedures to a new employee.
There are two varieties of business communication: written and spoken. While many professionals, managers, and executives complain about the number of memos and e-mails they have to write every day, they actually communicate verbally much more often. Yet, many people persist in divorcing lectern-style public speaking from the speaking required in a one-on-one meeting with the boss. They think the former is a very formal event requiring preparation, polished shoes and suits, while the latter can be done off-the-cuff. It can be done this way, but the results won’t distinguish you.
In business, powerful people know how to put the power of speaking to work for them whenever they are communicating verbally. Those who don’t think of themselves as public speakers within their companies, organisations, or associations probably aren’t perceived as good speakers by others either and they lose the aura that goes along with being known as effective communicators. Or worse, they have a reputation for being dull, unsure of themselves, and weak.
And if you know anything about business and leadership, then you should know that ‘weak’ is NOT a desirable quality. It is the direct opposite of the kind of stuff that makes successful business leaders. So if you do not want to be perceived as weak, then you have got to start projecting authority — and you could do that using the power of speaking. Go ask Barack Obama how he did it back in 2008. Let’s see if he does it again in 2012. ◊
About the author
Jonas Ezeanya is an Executive Speech Coach and Facilitator of the LiveSpeech Training Programme, Lagos-Nigeria. He works with organisations and companies who want to train their members and staff to become better presenters for personal and professional success. He also works one-on-one with individuals / executives and hosts periodic training workshops for the general public. He can be reached on 0818-972-0737, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at http://www.LiveSpeech.org.