That’s right: You’ve already got the strengths and skills you need to be a good, or even great, public speaker!
That’s because “public speaking” is more—much more—than giving a formal presentation from a stage.
You’ve been doing it your whole life.
We Build Public Speaking Strengths and Skills Every Day
It’s also “public speaking” when you…
- Speak about (or for) your work — and “work” includes being a student, a volunteer, a job hunter, managing your home; anything that’s work for you.
- Have a particular outcome or goal in mind — whether you’re pitching a product or telling your kid to clean their room, when you’re trying to make something happen, it’s public speaking.
Basically, if you’re not just having a casual conversation, you’re speaking in public.
So you’ve already done a lot of public speaking; and you’ve developed a bigger arsenal of public speaking strengths and skills than you probably realize.
Your Public Speaking Strengths and Skills Begin with Talking
How old were you when you started talking? Most people have mastered the basics of this skill before they turn four—and if you were raised in a bi-lingual household, you may have spoken two languages by then.
Which is awesome, because talking is the prototype skill for public speaking. (Or to say that differently, “speaking” is a cleaned up, more targeted version of “talking.”)
Your ability to talk is #1 on your list of public speaking strengths and skills
And how about all of the other skills that are related to talking?
Look at this very partial list, and ask yourself: Am I “good,” “very good,” or “pretty good” at each of them? (And, don’t be discouraged if your answers tend toward “pretty good.” That’s a solid foundation to build from, and your public speaking skills will keep getting better.)
“I’m Good, Very Good or Pretty Good at…”
- Explaining things
- Giving directions
- Following directions
- Answering questions
- Asking helpful questions
- Arguing for or against something
- Listening to what other people are arguing
- Figuring out what someone’s trying to say
- Getting people to listen to what I’m saying
- Including others in the conversation
- Keeping a conversation going
- Drawing out strangers
- Making other people smile
- Helping other people relax
- Taking charge of a decision
- Helping others reach consensus
- Asking someone else to apologize, etc.
And there are probably many other skills related to talking that you’ve already mastered, but take for granted.
All of Your Strengths and Skills Help with Public Speaking
In addition to the skills that are related to talking, you also have a lifetime’s worth of personal strengths that make you a uniquely valuable communicator.
In fact, every quality that helps you navigate the world will help you master public speaking.
Again, here’s a very partial list of qualities that are useful for public speakers to have. How many of them are true for you (even if they’re just a little true)?
“My Personal Strengths Include…”
- Eager to learn
- Good listener
There are hundreds of strengths that could go on this list; and each of them contributes to your unique “voice,” your unique perspective as a public speaker.
Why Should I Think about My Strengths and Skills?
Here’s an exercise I do with my clients and workshop groups:
- Get a pen and piece of paper (or your phone)
- Set a timer for 90 seconds
- Write down 10 of your best public speaking strengths and skills before the timer goes off
Before you keep reading, try this yourself; it’s very instructive.[This is you doing the exercise.]
OK, good work! How many items did you list?
If it’s fewer than 10, don’t feel bad; people are almost never able to list 10 items in 90 seconds (even though 9 seconds per item is not a particularly fast pace).
And yet, if I asked you to list 10 of your public speaking problems or deficits, do you think you would have been able to list 10?
You get the point:
To Build Your Future Strengths and Skills…Begin By Appreciating the Ones You Already Have!
That’s good advice for public speaking, and for anything else you want to learn.
Because most of us learn better when we already feel successful or accomplished.
And when it comes to public speaking, you already are!