Recently, I was out to dinner with an industry colleague at a new and trendy restaurant. The lights were not too dim and the music was not overpowering which made this a great choice for catching up and having a conversation. The restaurant seemed to attract a good mix of clientele from the more mature business professional to the “20 something” crowd. To our right, was a small group of young adults and based on their attire, they seemed to have just gotten off work.
I’ve always enjoyed “people watching”, particularly at a place that I’ve never been before. Glancing over at the tables next to me, I realized that “people watching” is just not as interesting as it used to be. So why is that? Well, how interesting is it to watch people that never look up from their cell phones—not even long enough to acknowledge the server? They took their seats, glanced at the menus, continued scrolling, texting, etc. on their phones, and rarely engaged in conversation that prompted any kind of eye contact.
I wondered and then asked my colleague, “Where do you think they work and what do you think they do”? Certainly, they can’t be in a role that requires them to speak in public! Or are they, and are they just ill-equipped to do so?
According to a posting by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, out of the top 10 things an employer looks for in new college graduates, the ability to write and speak well is listed as number 3. No wonder we have such an “employment disconnect” in the workforce. On one hand, recent college graduates complain that “there are no jobs”. On the other hand, employers complain that they cannot fill open positions with candidates that have the right skill set. So what can we do to bridge the gap?
To be fair, being afraid or unskilled in public speaking is not just a problem for the millennials. After all, even Warren Buffett admits that he was “terrified of public speaking,” and signed up for a public speaking course. He admits that investing in a public speaking course literally changed his life. Sounds like a worthwhile investment for recent graduates to me!
In an aggressive workforce, it is advantageous to get ahead of the competition, so if employers want to hire individuals who can speak publicly and give engaging presentations, it’s time to invest in yourself!
Below are 3 basics things to keep in mind as you prepare for attending a public speaking workshop:
- There is no such thing as perfect speaker. Do you feel intimidated because you want to be a perfect speaker? Well, there is no such thing. The goal is not to be “perfect”, but rather confident and engaging.
TIP: To build up your confidence as a speaker, you need to speak! A strong public speaking workshop will give you ample opportunity to get up and speak in a constructive and positive environment.
TIP: To engage your audience, tell a relatable story. Develop a message so that your audience is almost begging you, “Tell me more!”
- Arrive early for your workshop. Don’t increase your anxiety by searching for a parking spot, the right building, the right floor, etc. Give yourself ample time to get in and get settled, get a water or coffee and prepare.
TIP: As a speaker, you will also want to arrive early, make sure your equipment is working, and the room is set up as needed. Start to get into this habit now.
TIP: When you are early, you may have an opportunity to speak with other participants before the workshop begins. If you already know someone in your audience, you can rely on that “friendly face” as a focal point when you are presenting.
- Write down in advance a few topics that you are passionate about and knowledgeable. Most likely, you will be asked to present on a personal topic so have a few in your back pocket.
TIP: If you are passionate about your topic, you will throw contagious energy to your audience and they will be more receptive.
TIP: If you are knowledgeable about your topic, you will be perceived as the “expert”. Your confidence will be up, and the audience will see and feel that you know what you are saying.
Again, today’s workforce is competitive. Give yourself a competitive edge by investing in yourself and learning this coveted skill.