Many people stay away from public speaking – assuming they are just not suited to delivering presentations. But can you afford not to?

Your ability to impact the thoughts, feelings and behaviour of others has everything to do with your powers of persuasion.  To have influence means that others are predisposed to listen and are likely to be amenable to your suggestions.

If you can improve your communication skills, especially your confidence and capability as a speaker, you will enhance your influence across a range of stakeholder groups.  This is true at all stages of your career, across multiple roles and sectors.

Senior executives will find that sharp presentation skills will help them connect with large and disparate workforces.  By learning the art of communicating with empathy leaders can step out of their ivory towers and build connections with people. Just by seeing and hearing from senior leaders, employees will feel more connected and likely, more committed.  Well structured persuasive speeches allow CEO’s to share their vision using their own words and stories – increasing the chances that others will understand the strategy and decision making that follows.

Speechmaking is also called for outside the organisation where C-suite execs must represent their company in the media, via industry events or in front of shareholders.  Success will depend on well structured presentations delivered with flair.

Team leaders and frontline managers should also work on their capability in the area of presentation skills so that they can effectively communicate operational matters and tactical decisions.  Operating well at this level means you take every opportunity to increase collective understanding – this is best done via the spoken word.  In smaller scale presentations you will have the chance to encourage two-way discussion, further enhancing the experience for both the manager and the employee.

The most effective people leadersknow that they must seek out or create communication forums that generate cohesion – often this begins with a presentation from the manager to anchor the message and set the tone.  To move up through the ranks of management will require you to hone your communication skills as you build your platform within the company and work to create high functioning teams.

Individual contributors and technical expertsshould not think that they can avoid communication because they don’t have line management responsibilities. The team that surrounds you and the broader organisation will function more effectively with increased understanding about the contribution and knowledge that you possess.  Meaning you cannot keep everything to yourself.  For your expertise to add value to the company or the community it will need to be shared.   You will benefit from building your confidence in front of larger and larger audiences and translating your experience into meaningful content for your colleagues to process.

Sales and client account management professionals know that success often depends on their ability to persuade and influence others.  It’s just that their target audience happens to sit, for the most part, outside the organsiation.  For this group, superior presentation skills are required to pitch solutions, overcome objections and win over a wide range of personality types that might include current or prospective clients.  This group will rise above the competition if they can eloquently speak to the value of their offer in a range of circumstances – always carefully balancing relationships with outcomes.

For entrepreneurs, the power of public speaking is usually recognised, but the time required to master the necessary skills is often overlooked.  When launching or scaling a business you will need to build your platform.  Your audience might be investors, customers, the media or the industry.  In each case you will need to use every opportunity to create a buzz for you and your business.

Regardless of your position, communication is a cornerstone skill upon which you can build your career, no matter the nature of your unique ambitions.  When you master the ability to hold a room it means that others are drawn to you and they want to listen.  Creating moments of influence, in the form of persuasive, impactful or thought provoking presentations is a source of power.  Developing your speaking skills in an investment that will pay off for you and your business.

Monica Lunin

Monica Lunin is the author of What She Said: The Art of Inspiring Action Through Speech and director of the leadership and communication consultancy MOJOLOGIC.

Source: First 5000