I recently heard Richard Branson say how much he hates public speaking. I have to admit I was more than a little surprised, because I constantly see him out and about on the speaking circuit. Along with his feelings, he shared some of the secrets that he finds helpful when he has to speak in public.
Here are seven of the most important. These concepts can teach any one of us to be a better speaker–whether we’re leading the weekly staff update, addressing a city council meeting, or keynoting a conference with thousands of attendees.
Speak from the heart.
Not only is Branson nervous about speaking in public, he also hates rehearsed speeches because they add extra pressure. To respond to both challenges, he’s deceived a simple technique: he speaks from the heart. As the old saying goes, the one thing you can’t fake is sincerity.
Express your passion.
Branson believes that if you can speak with passion, you can get your message across and people will resonate with what you have to say. You don’t need to be the world’s foremost expert, but you should have an abundance of love for your topic. Let listeners recognize your deep connection to the subject in your words, in your face and in your body language. Motivate your audience to trust their own desires and act on them.
Have a sense of humor.
Like many effective speakers, Branson believes in using humor. He recommends placing witty lines at the beginning and end of a talk, putting a laugh in the middle with serious stuff on either side, and concluding with a smile. Going against what many speakers are told they must do, he advocates for wit and smiles rather than the riskier choice of telling a joke that may fall flat.
Depending on the topic, your humility may actually be part of the message. Ego has no place when it comes to public speaking. The best speakers, like the best leaders, know what they are there to serve–and they accomplish that by remaining humble.
When it comes to connecting with your audience, Branson says, you have to be genuine. You have to be able to walk your talk if you want listeners to trust you. Even if you think of yourself as an honest, forthright speaker, you need to reach every higher to make sure you’re speaking with authenticity for maximum credibility.
Focus on giving real value.
Branson concentrates on being valuable to his audience when he speaks. He wants to give people something genuinely useful in exchange for their precious time, not speak just to hear himself talk.
Feel the nerves but do it anyway.
Even though public speaking isn’t Branson’s favorite thing and it makes him nervous, he does it anyway. In exchange for a chance to share what he’s learned along the way with others, he’s willing to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Aside from the benefits to others, he knows he can develop and grow as a leader and a person every time he feels the nerves and does it anyway.
Take a page from Richard Branson’s playbook–recognize the value of public speaking and put yourself out there, however you feel about it.
Not only is Branson nervous about speaking in public, he also hates rehearsed speeches because they add extra pressure. To respond to both challenges, he’s devised a simple technique: he speaks from the heart. As the old saying goes, the one thing you can’t fake is sincerity.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
THE LEADERSHIP GAP
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.