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Life lesson on Public speaking

Public speaking is an art form that is created around your own traits by you only. You are the artist, painting a picture with your words, touching the hearts of your audience; it is less about rules and more about what comes from your "brush".

I used to think that Public Speaking is all about specific rules; learning those rules and understanding what to do or what not to do is the key to become a great speaker.

Interestingly, most of the public speaking and presentation skills trainers dictates some rules based on their experiences. I notice that what works for them not necessarily work for me. Therefore, following these rules makes me more nervous, less personable and mediocre speaker at best.

We all meet different people in our lives which put their marks positively or negatively. Interestingly we might not understand their impact on us while we are working, but when we look back, we realise their influence and appreciate their mentorship.

I want to tribute Mr Colin Wakefield and in his memory. When I start working for Colin, something has changed. He was different; he was a hands-on manager but not micro-manager, he used to push us till we find the right approach but not to dictate and most importantly he used to have his quotes for every situation to make it appealing, memorable and give a lasting effect.

It took some time for me to adapt his style, but I learn a lot working with him, and for this alone, I am eternally grateful to his mentorship.

Colin Wakefield taught me five ingredients for success;

  1. It is your message, and you control what to say and how to say. Always give headline news and vary the details as necessary depending on audience respond,

  2. Understanding and managing the expectations of your audience; you have to develop different approaches for the different audiences as their motivation differ depending on their needs and expectations.

  3. Providing big picture while knowing every brush strokes in detail; being able to control your temptation to give too much (to showoff the knowledge) instead, only focusing on what is necessary and relevant to your audience.

  4. If you are not in a strong position to dictate your view, be ready to compromise. Hammering your message consistently and persuasively but having the gut to accept differences and being prepared to compromise to achieve win-win outcomes,

  5. Being genuine and authentic. Understanding that our primary goal to be accepted as a credible and honest partner by our audience and become the best we can be.

According to Colin, when it comes to leadership, persuading others and achieve most of our potential, we need to change our perception the way we look at the business.

Commercialism is the lifeblood of any business, but we should never forget that companies run by the people and people who genuinely care about people are the heartbeat of any business. Therefore, confident public speaking and presentation yourself and your ideas in the centre of your career progression.

We need to understand common practices, behaviours and traits to learn and adapt to our environment. There is no specific scientific formula or rule which works every time in life. Learning the fundamental techniques and developing your skills by putting them in to practice over and over again will help you differentiate yourself from the rest.

In this respect, I see public speaking is an art form that is created around your own traits by you only. You are the artist, painting a picture with your words, touching the hearts of your audience; it is less about rules and more about what comes from your "brush".

We could all learn different techniques from the great speakers. Do not try to copy anybody; otherwise, you will be remembered to be a copy of somebody else, and the more you copy, the more you will worry about getting it right. Therefore, understanding which techniques suits you best is the key. If you manage to develop those techniques with your style, it will allow you to become more natural and more authentic, and ultimately a powerful speaker with the most impact.

If you accept that Public speaking is an art, then you have to accept that different techniques works differently for different people. The wrong or right answer only exists as it applies to what is wrong or right for you. It is essential to understand what style works best for you and developing your own style and delivery.

We all need guidance to excel our art of delivery, and it is ok to get support. Always remember that authenticity matters as it is your unique and personal tool to share your view with the world. Find your own voice, with authority and authenticity, to become the best verbal artist you can be.

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