Why Public Speaking is Vital to Your Success as a Mediator?
You are not alone
Almost three-quarters of American adults report having glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. Yet the ability to speak in public is a huge asset to any mediator – because any mediator can speak in front of their clients, but mediation leaders (and good marketers) give trainings and speak at conferences, community events, and association meetings.
You don't have any speaking skills, but still want to be a mediator?
If the idea of speaking in front of a crowd makes you feel ill, read on. This article provides information about concrete steps toward making your speech or presentation dynamic and memorable, thereby giving you more confidence.
Work on content
Good content presented well gives you something to be excited about, and excitement will naturally be expressed as a contagious enthusiasm about your topic. Go ahead, infect your audience!
Begin by determining the purpose of your speech or presentation. Are you trying to inspire? Persuade? Inform? Once you have your purpose, brainstorm all of the topics that you need to hit to accomplish it. Then choose the 3-5 most critical supportive topics and arrange them in an order that will make sense and create natural flow.
Now you are ready to begin writing.
Open your speech with something that will grab attention immediately. A short personal anecdote that is relevant to your purpose or a startling statistic are engaging openers. Do NOT tell a joke or talk about anything irrelevant to your purpose.
Conclude your introduction with a transitional sentence that both reminds your audience of your purpose and gives an idea of what is to follow.
Example: “That statistic demonstrates the seriousness of [this problem]. In the next twenty minutes, I am going to give you five tools to deal with it.”
The body of your speech is where you introduce your supportive topics; these are the topics that will inspire, persuade, or inform your audience. How much detail you provide depends entirely upon the specific event, but aim for uncomplicated language in straightforward sentences. If you can find a pattern in developing your topics, follow the same pattern for each one – this makes it easier for your audience to follow you, and easier for you to remember!
Remember your purpose: inspire, persuade, or inform. Everything you say should be geared toward that single purpose. Personal stories are great, but be careful not to sound narcissistic. Getting off-topic by too many examples or sneaking in sales pitches will turn also your audience off. Engage your audience! Ask questions and take answers, have them repeat certain phrases or make certain gestures. When your audience is engaging with you rather than just listening to you, they are far more likely to enjoy – and remember – your speech.
Your conclusion is your last chance to engage with your audience, so make it count. Recap what you have said, tie everything together, and end with something memorable that reinforces your purpose to inspire, persuade or inform.
Example: “[Repeat statistic from introduction]. That is a serious issue, but you now have five tools to use in combating it: [1,2,3,4,5]. Now you are part of the solution, instead of part of the problem!”
Tip: It is often helpful to write the body of the speech first, then the introduction and conclusion. Writing in this order helps you to clarify salient topics and incorporate them seamlessly into your introduction and conclusion, producing a coherent and memorable speech.
No one is born a gifted speaker – no one. Even the very best speakers in the world work hard at what they do. They join clubs like Toastmasters International to hone the finer points of public speaking, and when they have a specific speech or presentation to give, they practice.
Practice in front of a mirror, then in front of a camera, then in front of friends and family. Practice until you are comfortable with your speech, then practice until you own it.
Practice the words. Practice the tone of your voice. Practice pacing – when to talk faster to build momentum and when to slow down or pause to let your words sink in.
Consider what body language will help you accomplish your purpose. If your goal is to inspire your audience, energetically moving around the stage may be appropriate. If your goal is to inform or persuade, a calmer and quieter approach might serve you better, emphasizing important points with inflection and a simple gesture.
More than 90% of all communication is nonverbal, so use your body to enhance your efforts. This tactic also gives you something specific to do with your body instead of succumbing to nervous gestures (clenching hands, tapping toes, etc).
You’ve written a fantastic speech or presentation that is sure to inspire, persuade or inform your audience. You’ve practiced your words and your body language in front of family and friends and in front of a camera and analyzed the feedback they offered.
You are ready – go for it! Of course, being prepared doesn’t magically take away the butterflies in your stomach, but it does give you confidence that will come through when you begin speaking. There is a big difference between having butterflies and being paralyzed with fear.
It is a good idea to record your presentation, if possible. Even though you recorded your practices, the actual presentation is bound to bring out things that you hadn’t noticed before.
Did you hit all of your points? If not, was the omission noticeable?
Was your pacing understandable and effective?
Did your body language help to tell your story? How was your posture?
Were your gestures natural and appropriate?
Make note of what needs improvement, but don’t forget to notice the places where you nailed it, too. Public speaking is an art, always a work in progress. Keep at it and apply your skills toward becoming a leader in the field of conflict resolution.
You got this.