The Ten Commandments of Public Speaking for Small Business Owners

Persuasive communication is the single most important tool needed to climb the corporate ladder of success.

While climbing in Alaska in 2013 with 10 others, it reignited my passion and sense of purpose.

I decided then and there to form a consulting practice and help others achieve success by teaching them to communicate passionately and persuasively.

I remind clients and Latino small business owners all the time: “Persuasive communication is the single most important tool needed to climb the corporate ladder of success.”

But, like mountaineering, it takes a certain mindset:

  1. Set a goal
  2. Take one step at a time.- No shortcuts to the top.
  3. You can’t do it alone. – It takes a team

How then to become that persuasive communicator who climbs to the top?

I’ve created the Ten Commandments of Public Speaking – an essential map for climbing to the top of your career mountain. Each one is equally important, but all are necessary to be effective.

The Ten Commandments of Public Speaking are:

  1. Primacy recency effect

If you don’t start your speech with something that captures your audience’s attention, you’re going to lose them immediately. And if you don’t close with something equally compelling—an inspiring call to action that literally propels people out of their seats— you’ve basically wasted your time and theirs.

  1. Emotion precedes reason 

When stand and deliver, people won’t remember the words your chose or the exact way you present your ideas, but they will remember the way you make them feel.

Understanding how to recognize and leverage those emotions are key to becoming an effective persuasive speaker.

  1. Speak with conviction 

The words you choose, the tone, inflection, etc. are all considered a part of that communication package that is headed to the receiver.

IF you want people to believe in you, speaking clearly and with conviction is a good place to start.

Eliminating filler words…so, like Over the years, I made mountaineering a serious hobby, making it a priority to climb peaks across the globe., I mean, ya’ know? is also critical to convey conviction.

  1. Body language 

People react to your body language before you start speaking. Bottom line: the body speaks before the mouth opens. Pay attention to what you are not saying.

  1. Minimize the distance 

We’re conditioned to believe there should be barriers between a speaker and an audience.

That is a time- honored habit that needs to change. But today, collaboration and connection are challenging when barriers like podiums are in the way. Step up closely to your audience and speak to them as if they were seated next to you.

  1. The “Rule of 3”

The Rule of Three goes back to the days of ancient Greece. They figured out then that human remember things best in groups of three. Three little pigs, blind mice, musketeers, and even the Genie in a bottle. Three.

  1. The speaker punctuates

Punctuation is essential to communication in the written word – it is just as important in speech. However, since listeners can’t see commas, question marks, or exclamation points, speakers have to express them in ways that make them care.

  1. The power of the pause 

Mark Twain once said, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

When working with clients, I introduce three primary reasons why strategically placed moments of silence are essential for every speaker to add to their repertoire: pause allows the speaker to concentrate on their call to action, it creates suspense and it allows the speaker to control the overall pace of their delivery.

  1. Leverage visuals 

We change our clothes, eat different foods, and watch different television shows, all in the pursuit of variety. We work hard to avoid monotony.

Time and again audiences mumble things like “I can’t listen to him any longer” and “When will it be over?” And yet the next speaker gets up and doesn’t do enough to change their feelings.

They offer up the same boring speeches, one after another. No variety, no engagement, no results. The effective integration of visuals in your presentation can counterattack this and win your audience’s attention.

10. Vary your pitch and tone

One way to think of this is to visualize and recall the differences in instruments. Take a violin and cello: the violin is high and bright, the cello low and slow. Depending on your pitch, you are attaching different emotions to your words. Take any sentence and play around with the pitch and its meaning will undoubtedly change. Recognizing, understanding and utilizing different pitches and tones are critical in delivering messages that people want to hear.

Takeaway: 

As you apply these principles, many will seem unnatural, uncomfortable, and awkward.

Public speaking brings fear and frustration to many. But it’s in the act of overcoming challenges where growth occurs. Your commitment to these ten public speaking commandments will forge a path to the top of your career mountain.

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