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How to become a truly powerful public speaker

Ginger Leadership Communications

Power comes from within… and it starts with your attitude. Are you a speaker aware of your power? Are you able to control how your body and voice act when you stand up to speak in public? Do you even know what happens when you’re speaking? Inspiring public speaking is all about being power-FULL, here’s how to find YOUR power…

As he clicked through to his “Thank You” slide, Edgar Mumble looked up his bored audience. ‘Phew, it’s over,’ he thought with relief. ‘That was much longer than I imagined.’ ‘Erm… any questions?’ he muttered to the first row, scratching at a red patch on his neck. His offer was met with silence. Edgar collected his books and scuttled out of the room to a thin ripple of applause. ‘That went well,’ he said to himself, ‘I’ll do the same presentation again next year.’

How many times have you sat through a similar piece of lackluster powerless public speaking as an audience member? How many times have you been the public speaker with the same powerless attitude? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way – and the first step to become a powerful public speaker is to become aware of yourself by examining your verbal and non-verbal power.

Verbal Power

  • Charisma – Many have a perception of charisma equaling “Something I’m not”, but that’s usually because you have a fixed idea of what charisma is. Surely charisma looks super confident, powerful, slick and funny, with a dazzling smile. Right? Public speaking charisma doesn’t mean being ‘in your face’ if that’s not your style. Your brand of public speaking charisma might look enigmatic, intellectual, sophisticated, enthusiastic, weird, sensual or something entirely different. Find your flavour.
  • Be Aware – Look at the way your voice behaves when you speak in public. Once your volume’s not too loud and not too soft, but just right, you can start to use it as a tool for adding drama and tension into what you say. The same goes for an awareness of your gaps, your intonation, your clarity, your energy and so on. Play with your voice and use it to create a story that engages your audience.
  •  Umm… like… your choice of words – Another way to increase powerful public speaking is to decrease the use of “fillers“. Filler words are utilized in general conversations to signal to the recipient that it’s NOT yet their turn to speak. Basically to keep the speaking stage in order to finish your intended message. While normal in conversations, you don’t need to signal to your audience that it’s “your turn to speak”. That’s why they’re there, to hear this amazing message you’re presenting. Too many “um’s” can cause you to seem less than professional, unprepared, or confused.
  • Gravitas or having “weight” as a speaker, both literally and in the words that you say increases your power exponentially. What springs to mind is the Sanskrit word Guru which actually means “heavy one” or one who cannot be pushed over. “You just couldn’t physically push him over because he’s so grounded, he has so much gravitas.” How do you find that sort of gravitas for yourself?  Now that you know exactly what gravitas is… you can start by asking yourself a few questions.

  Non-Verbal Power

Winston Churchill said “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” It’s no big surprise that how you carry yourself whilst public speaking makes a tremendous impact on your audience.

  • Have you ever experienced someone practically hiding at the corner of the stage during their speech or shuffling in with shoulders slouched and slumped?
  • Audiences experience every nuance of a speaker… the way they look, walk, dress, and speak, within a split second of a speaker beginning. When you present yourself with an attitude of fear or discomfort it sets the rest of the stage for your entire presentation.
  • Start with a negative attitude towards your speaking abilities and your whole being will show it by trying to hide (sometimes subtly, sometimes literally) from the audience. Even if you ‘put on a show’ your audience can often still tell subconsciously.

If your attitude is more positive, your body will become more natural, open and confident.

There are no true “rules” of body language, yet our choice of how we use our body language affects how we are able to get our message across. Instead of rules, I would encourage you to develop awareness about how your body language impacts your message. This will make you a more flexible and powerful speaker who has the power to do what the audience needs in that moment. When we feel like that, we don’t need a list of rules – our body simply knows what to do.  Read more about the Ginger approach to powerful body language.

Awareness of your physical and verbal power matters, it’s the only road to becoming a powerful public speaker. It’s great to get feedback from other people, particularly an expert, on how your body language and voice comes across. For example we have a great 1 day Foundations of Excellent Public Speaking Course in London that focuses on exactly this.

More information on how to become a powerful public speaker? 

You betcha! If you’re eager to become a more power filled speaker, Ginger has a multitude of courses just right for you! From freebies to e-courses, books to workshops, jump in to Ginger. Click here for a full list of Ginger courses and resources.

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