|Artwork by Karen Sloan|
When we first learn Public Speaking, it can be a lot like art class.
We don't worry so much about what we're painting as much as how we're painting it. We'll paint whatever is around - flowers, a fruit bowl, shoes, or, yes, even a Toaster!
We spend a lot of time deciding which canvas to use, what kind of paint (oil, acrylic, watercolor - oh my!), the color scheme, the perspective and composition, as well as which tools to paint with. We work and work and work, correct our mistakes, then turn it in and hope for the best. We get some feedback and a grade, then start all over again, as we strive to perfect our style and learn new techniques.
This is great for the classroom, but unless you are planning on being an Artist who survives on people loving your Art enough to buy 10,000 prints for their new hotel, those skills eventually need to be put towards a product or service that has a purpose.
In Public Speaking, teachers, organizations, and coaches will often teach the basics - vocal variety, gestures, eye-contact, pauses, pace - all the tools and techniques we need to sound good in front of an audience. The subject doesn't matter as much, its more important to just get up and talk than worry about subject. Talk about your childhood, your job, even your toaster - just talk!
As with Art however, unless you plan on only speaking on a street corner for donations, you must take your Speaking beyond an exercise of expression. It must serve a purpose, provide a solution, or create a result.
Learning speaking techniques is a start, but its even more important that you have an idea of what you want to say, you you want to say it to, and why they want to hear it. If you don't spend as much time, or more, on your message as you do on your presentation skills, your speaking will never be the strong, results-producing, profitable skill you likely need it to be.
Not sure what your message is, how to craft it, and where to find the right people to hear it? Find a coach who does more than just teach you to Speak - find one that will teach you Speak and Deliver!
Message + Skills = Speak and Deliver.