So You Want To Be An Effective Speaker?

By Staff
In May 15, 2014
MicrophoneTrilogy Athlete Annette Lynch was a member of the 2000 Australian Olympic beach volleyball team in Sydney and played on the FIVB World Tour. Following her athletic career, she transformed her athletic experiences into a successful career as an inspirational speaker, author, and coach. Author of Success beyond Sport (a guide for athlete transition), Annette now focuses on training of confidence and skills for speaking, communication, and leadership to entrepreneurs and organizations that value high-performance. 

 

A common career path for athletes is to become a motivational speaker. You have a great story of striving for your dream, the obstacles you overcame, and what it takes to be a champion – and people love to hear a good story.

It’s one thing having the story, it’s another to have the confidence and skill to deliver it effectively, grabbing and holding the attention of your audience

I find speaking is a lot like a sporting performance – you need to train and prepare for it, and there are always areas to improve.  Just as great athletes are looking for the difference that makes the difference to win, speakers want to look for distinctions that will help them get better results.

Even speakers that have confidence, a good message, and good delivery can benefit from a public speaking tip that will help take them to another level.

So where is there room for improvement? Here are three key areas that hold the attention of the audience and inspire them to action.

1. Confidence – even naturally confident people might find themselves on shaky ground in front of a large audience, or a tough audience posing challenging questions.
What if things go wrong? You want to be calm and comfortable in all situations, so that the audience feel comfortable and can totally trust you. There are ways to improve your confidence so that you fully own the stage whenever you are on it.

2. Content I’m always refining my content, finding better ways to get my message across.  The more prepared you are, the more opportunity you have to find the fine distinctions in your communication that can make a difference.
I was listening to someone just recently, and though I could see the value in her content and knew what she wanted to convey, she did not hold my attention. She had the wrong level of content for the purpose of the presentation. Just some changes to focus on what was most important to the audience (not her) would have been one way to grab back my attention. You need to pay attention to the structure of your content and at all times consider how it will relate to the audience. This includes your stories!

3. Expression This is an area less people pay attention to, and thus can pay the biggest dividends when looking to take your speaking from OK to WOW.
This is everything but the words – how you move, how you use your voice, how you pause, and more.
Speaking is a skill that benefits from training. I know it made a big difference to me going from motivational speaker as an Olympian, to learning high-level presentation skills that helped me connect with my audience. Most importantly, it helped me to get my message to more people – to grab the attention of those who might otherwise be ready to change.

Athletes have to pay attention to distinctions as important as a bend in a joint at the wrong time – something that could cost a fraction of a second or a deflection of a ball.  This can be the difference between winning or not. The difference between getting the result you want, and the result you don’t.

Think about what result you want to get as a speaker, and decide what areas need to improve to get them.

For more information on public speaking, visit Annette’s website Inspire Through Speaking.

Staff posts are written by our Communications team, which is a combination of former athletes and writers with experience in the digital media world.