How to Improve Your Leadership and Public Speaking Skills

When it comes to people that we think of as great leaders, our minds often drift to people that inspire, bring calm in a storm, and have a strong future focus. That also tend to be at very decent at public speaking. Names like JFK, Martin Luther King Jr and Steve Jobs may come to mind. Their ability to lead and inspire through public speaking are often what helped progress movements that inspired change to society at large.

So, how did they do it? Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can best utilise your time in front of people to increase you ability to public speak and make great changes, no matter what your scale is. Now most people say “start with a joke” or “imagine the audience in their underwear” when preparing for public speaking.

Here are some more powerful tools to help you get your message across.

1. Start with Why?

More important that the text and nuances of your speech should be the “why”. A concept made famous by Simon Sinek (https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en) great speeches and actions are more readily available to your listeners. Whether they agree or disagree with your statement, if they can understand why you are saying the things you are saying, and that you really believe it, they will trust you more. Often times, when someone is bad at public speaking, or we don’t fully connect with what they are saying, them not believing what they are talking about is usually at the core.

2. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself.

Many people get nervous before public speaking. “What if I mess up?” “What if I forget what I’m talking about?” “What if I embarrass myself?” What is a really important thing to keep in mind is that public speaking is one of the great fears all people share, and subsequently, it is one of the things we all struggle with. I mean all of us. Most speeches we hear, especially from non-professional speakers, are about a 3/10 – 4/10… aka forgettable. So, if you aren’t a professional public speaker, your job is simply to hit a 3/10, and you have met your mark. Messing up is part of it; just put yourself within reasonable confines for success. “If I can get to all my points, I’ve succeeded” “If I can get them to understand this one metaphor, I’ve succeeded.” “If I can get one person to ask a question at the end, I’ve done my job.”

3. Don’t be afraid to have fun

Public speaking is often dry because people are afraid to have fun. If you watch any great speech, you can see the speaker fully committed to the product, and often times, will be able to throw to a joke, and it make the speech soar. A simple pun, rhyme of punchline can often serve to break up a complex idea, which will allow your audience to relax, give them a chance to breathe, and then you can come back in. Breaking up speeches in this way gives your audience an opportunity to utilise more parts of their brain, so they can take things in in a more involved way. Jokes also demonstrate confidence, which allows your audience to feel confident in what you are saying, and relax themselves.

So don’t be afraid of public speaking, if you utilise all of these skills, you will be giving inspiring speeches in no time. If you want more information about being a great leader, listen to Episode 35 of our free podcast on how to be a great leader here!