How do you rate your communication skills? Whether it’s speaking to one, to many, over the phone, in a webinar, in a team meeting, or with a new client, communicating professionally is an essential skill for any martial arts business owner. But this is easier said than done. According to Glen Croston, Ph.D in Psychology Today, most studies indicate people fear public speaking more than death. However, public speaking is a simple skill and the key is to replace fear with confidence. Here are 8 tips to help you overcome your fear of public speaking and begin communicating confidently: 1) Know Your Audience The first step to communicating confidently is defining the audience you are addressing. Whether it’s a large group of business owners at an international summit, a web conference with a potential client, or a weekly staff meeting at the back of your martial arts studio, it’s important to understand whom your target audience is so you can tailor your message. According to influential speech coach Christine Jahnke: “When approaching a presentation a common mistake is asking: What am I going to say? Instead, consider: What does my audience need to hear and how much do they know about my topic? By answering this question, you will be able to deliver the information your audience needs and keep their interest from beginning to end. In turn, this will allow you to command the room and feel more comfortable and confident. 2) Know Your Topic A common issue for most speakers is thinking because they’re an expert on a topic they’ll be able to get on stage and ‘wing it’. When in fact, the key to communicating comfortably and confidently is preparation and practice. Before you put pen to paper, it’s important to establish an ultimate purpose and desired outcome. This will help you stay focused throughout the preparation process. By knowing your key points you will feel more comfortable with your material and lose the nerves associated with not being prepared. 3) Engage With Your Audience TIMA co-founder Phil Britten stresses the importance of engagement when communicating in a professional context. He believes that connecting with your audience creates greater impact and allows your main message to hit home. To achieve this, communicators should try injecting humour and warmth into their speeches. According to Jenna Gourdreau in her Forbes article How To Speak With Authority: “[Humour] projects an ease and optimism that invites listeners and establishes credibility.” Natalie Sisson, in her Forbes article Five Reasons Why The Fear Of Public Speaking Is Great For You, expands on this point by suggesting that being familiar with your main points frees your capacity to engage with your audience. Being comfortable with your material allows you to smile, create eye contact, interact, gesture, and look natural as you speak. 4) Be Yourself And Show Your Passion At the core of all successful communication is authenticity. It’s important to be yourself because being authentic allows you to connect with your audience faster than any manufactured persona. It also allows you to establish your credibility and leadership. Another part of being authentic is being passionate. Letting your passion show in your communication gives you the energy to deliver your message confidently. You cannot fake passion and this will resonate with your audience. 5) Know What Verbal and Nonverbal Tools To Use According to Susan Tardanico in her Forbes article Want To Be A Better Public Speaker? Do What The Pros Do, more than 90% of all communication is nonverbal. This can range from facial expressions to gestures to stance to movement. Therefore, it’s important to capitalise on these nonverbal cues when communicating. For example, a warm smile and calm body movements tells the audience that you are comfortable, whereas strong eye contact and a powerful stance shows that you are confident. However, verbal communication is equally as important as it can project power and incite interest. For instance, having control over your pace and breathing by slowing down your speech and using impactful pauses can show that you have confidence in what you are saying. Christine Jahnke summarises effective verbal communication as: “Optimise voice by using mid-range pitch, inflection to offer emphasis and variety, a volume that attracts attention but is not overly loud, pauses after important sentiments and clear pronunciation so that words are not lost.” 6) Get To The Point When it comes to successful communication, being focused and precise is what will win over your audience. According to Jenna Gourdreau: “A powerful presentation stays on message, is made of short sentences and few asides, and gets to the point quickly.” This way you avoid rambling and portray power and control over the main points. A great way to ensure this is to cut out fill-in words such as ‘um’, ‘uh’, ‘hm’, ‘you know’ and ‘like’. These words dilute your message and undermine your confidence by making you seem nervous and unprepared. 7) Make Your Presence Known Another important part of communicating like a professional is owning the room and making your presence known. By recognising you belong there and commanding the attention of your audience, your confidence will be apparent. Confidence can be demonstrated by standing tall, avoiding hiding behind furniture, keeping your head up and making eye contact. 8) Have Fun And Let Go Of Self-Doubt Communicating confidently is a learning process. It will never be easy the first time, but the key to success is never giving up. Challenges promote growth, and every time you step outside your comfort zone, you will become more experienced and gradually let go of your self-doubt. So trust yourself and the importance of your message and this confidence will rub off on others. If you’re interested in learning more about communicating like a professional, join Phil and Graham on their half-day, intensive public speaking course on Sunday 25th of October. Don’t hesitate, secure your tickets before they all sell out.
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