Public speaking has long been considered a skill that’s nice to have but not essential — good news for those who feel stressed when standing in front of a crowd. Now, business leaders agree that this formerly soft skill is a necessary one, so it’s time to get creative in facing your fear.
“Public Speaking Is No Longer a Soft Skill. It’s Your Key to Success in Any Field,” declared a recent Inc. article. Why the seemingly sudden change? A growing interest in entrepreneurship, marketing, and business in general has shifted our focus in every organizational context. Work increasingly requires selling ideas, and the power of persuasion is therefore essential.
Billionaire Warren Buffet argues that skilled public speakers can command a salary that is higher by as much as 50%, and economists agree that the ability can increase your value. In a study conducted at the University of Illinois, Chicago, economics professor Deirdre McClusky showed that persuasion and public speaking skills are directly responsible for generating a quarter of national income.
That means that if public speaking makes you anxious, you need to surmount these fears. In Forbes, psychologist and career coach Dawn Graham recommends these creative tricks to help:
- Start your presentation with a question and ask for a show of hands. This takes the attention off you and gives you a moment to breathe.
- Get your body moving to help yourself remember forgotten facts; it’s a tested method to trigger your brain.
- Remember that your goal is to get a message across, not perform. You can’t change how people might receive that message, but you can do your best to present it clearly and professionally.
- Expect and plan for technical glitches by printing notes, becoming familiar with your equipment, and having a tech expert on hand. If something goes wrong, you’ll be less likely to feel flustered.
- Don’t be afraid to briefly check your notes if necessary.
- Find the most engaged audience members and focus on them. Paying attention to a friendlier face can remind you that you do have the ability to get through this.
For more information about the importance of public speaking, you can read “Public Speaking Is No Longer a Soft Skill. It’s Your Key to Success in Any Field” in Inc. To take a deeper dive into Graham’s tips, visit Forbes to read “Unique Ways to Finally Kick Your Fear of Public Speaking.”