One of my favorite questions to ask people about public speaking is if they consider themselves a public speaker. When 9 out of 10 answer no, I politely point out that their answer was technically them speaking in public.
If you carry on any type of conversation during the day when you are in public, I'm going to argue that you're a public speaker.
Words are very powerful, and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you can improve your public speaking skills.
On a physiological level, based on evolutionary needs, your brain tries to find reasons to justify your thoughts. The foundation of how we think is in terms of our language. Therefore, what you think and what you say is what your brain will try to find in the world.
This is not just me saying so. It is science.
One example can be found while driving.
If you are driving and think to yourself, I am running late, your brain will instinctively look for signals that reinforce your thoughts to create the reality of you running late. This will manifest into the world in various ways. You may start to switch lanes to find a faster route. Overreact when the traffic slows down. Become agitated by other driver’s behaviors. Speed more than you normally would to make up time that you think you need to make up et cetera, et cetera...
If thinking and saying that you're going to be late makes your brain look for reasons that you are going to be late and eventually causes you to be late, the same applies to public speaking. If you think and tell people you are not a good public speaker, your brain will look for and reinforce reasons to support that. This will slow down your progress towards becoming a great public speaker.
This is such a crucial concept to understand how words affect the way that you think, talk, and ultimately act. As a speaker, you will learn that the words you choose will formulate thoughts in your audience’s head. Those thoughts will influence the way that they speak, therefore influencing the way that they interact with the world.
The one thing you can do each day to become better at public speaking is to choose your words wisely.
If you choose the right words, it will make a big difference in the way that you both think and say things.
Here are some examples of common phrases that will set you back on your public speaking path, followed by replacement phrases that pivot your thinking process and reinforce the positives of your public speaking abilities:
Instead of: “I'm afraid of Public speaking.”
Try: “I'm working on becoming a better public speaker.”
Instead of: “I get really nervous when I have to talk in front of a group.”
Try: “Even though I get nervous when speaking in front of a group, it’s an exciting and rewarding experience.”
Instead of: “I don't think I would be good at presenting my part of the information in this group project.”
Try: “I'm willing to try presenting my information, but I should practice with my group and get feedback on my presentation so that I can become comfortable with presenting the material.”
Instead of: “I'll never be a good speaker.”
Try: “One day, through practice and perseverance, I will become not only a good speaker, but a great one.”
Instead of: “There's no way I can memorize this speech.”
Try: “I shouldn't memorize speeches. I should prepare well enough to know all elements inside and out. If I give the speech with confidence coupled by improvisation, it will feel more natural, unique and memorable.”
Instead of: “That speech I gave was terrible, I'll never be a good speaker.”
Try: “I am proud of myself for having the courage to give the speech in the first place. I will work hard to improve and look forward to giving a better speech next time.”
Often times, it is our friends and coworkers who are pivotal in encouraging us to pursue our goals and personal development, such as becoming a better presenter and public speaker. If you have friends who are trying to improve their speaking skills, use your words to build them up. Use words that give them confidence. Keep their thoughts and words in a direction that will guide them on a positive path of development. If you hear someone talking down to themselves, help them find new words and reinforce a positive spin on what may seem like something negative.
Words are powerful, use them to build yourself up and keep you inspired. The sooner you do this, the better you can use your words to inspire other people.
Ryan Foland, a public speaking expert and the Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Ryan and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.
Learn more about Ryan at RyanFoland.com