Can you picture people you admire for their public speaking abilities? According to articles published all around the world in places like Canada, Indonesia, the United States, England, Australia, and New Zealand to name a few, public speaking is a top fear for people. In the United States, a National Speakers Association Certification Program provides opportunities for individuals to try out and train for public speaking. To become an internationally qualified public speaker takes years of speaking, earning income related to speaking, and ongoing evaluations. Most people do not desire status as an international public speaker; they just wish their throat didn’t close, pulse didn’t race, brain didn’t blank out, and muscles didn’t clench at the idea of speaking in front of a group of people, strangers or not.
So who do you admire as a public speaker? President Barak Obama has received acclaim for his abilities in public speaking, and he has praised past greats like President Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as inspiring gifted speakers. Cicero, Joan of Arc, William Wallace, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Betty Friedan, Ronald Reagan, Billy Graham, Barbara Jordan, Nelson Mandela, Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, are just a few of the people who show power in their words, memorable rhetoric, captivating phrases, and the ability to connect with audiences.
Study the people you admire as public speakers. What do they do? Where do they stand? How do they move? What methods do they use to open or to close their speech? Can you find a pattern or plan in each of their speeches? What part do illustrations play? How often do they quote other people? Is humor present? Can they bring a tear to the eyes of listeners-and do they? What do they wear? How do they use their hands, their voice, their themes? Why do they speak in public? What energizes their life-what are their goals? Whom do they depend on for support and ideas? What is their educational background? Do they have some unique life experiences?
The people you admire as public speakers can be your role models as you work to build public speaking skills. When Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed up the word order for Barak Obama’s oath of office, the oath was still recited because both men took the mistake in stride and knew the essentials. The day after the inauguration, Chief Justice Roberts went to the White House so that President Barak Obama could go on record saying the oath before witnesses, word perfect. Rarely do words leap from lips in perfect alignment and emphasis the first time, especially when one is under pressure. Your role models have made mistakes. Read their biographies. Look carefully at how they learned to build their public speaking skills and overcame embarrassing moments. You can learn the same skills. You can become a wonderful public speaker. Yes you can!