Every organization’s leaders are asked to speak publicly at various venues. Whether it is a team meeting inside the company, back at your school reunion, to investor conferences, or even at public shareholder meetings, every executive is asked to stand on his or her feet and address an audience.
It is suggested that the number one fear of most individuals is the thought of public speaking. For better or worse, it comes with the responsibility of being a leader. We all know that some speakers have more natural talent than others, but speaking skills can be developed, over time, by practicing.
The benefits of good public speaking are enormous. High-quality public speaking can make a deal go through, it can inspire employees to a much higher level of performance, and it can make things happen that might not otherwise happen.
When I work with individuals, I am often asked whether I think leaders are born or developed. I usually respond that they are much like athletes. Some individuals have more natural talent than others, but with practice, individuals can improve enormously. The same can be said about public speaking. Do you think Bill Clinton or Colin Powell’s way with words was that good when they first started? Of course not! It took many years of practice. This was truly on-the-job training.
Leadership and public speaking go hand-in-hand. You won’t become good at it by reading books or observing from the sidelines. It is often a contact sport and to become first-rate, we need to get into the game.
Where can you gain confidence without feeling self-conscious? Toastmasters International is a perfect organization to seek out if you want to develop and practice you speaking skills. Toastmaster Clubs are like McDonalds— they are everywhere! The clubs offer self-development programs where each participant works at his or her own pace. Like any independent endeavor, the amount of effort that you put in will determine the value of your results. Simply put, Toastmasters is a great place to hone your skills and gain the confidence to move ahead with public speaking and your leadership skills. The cost? Approximately fifty US dollars a year! By any measure, that is quite a deal.
Practice makes perfect!