Every time you open your mouth to speak, you are a speaking professional. Whether it is in front of a meeting of your peers or at your company’s coffee stand, you are a speaking professional. Most people do not realize that the better you are at speaking, the more positive people’s judgment of you becomes. People instinctually make judgments about each other in the first 10-30 seconds of hearing each other speak. Even though we have been told never to judge anyone till you get to know them, the reality is that for most of mankind’s existence our very survival depended on a quick assessment of any stranger that you met. We may not make a conscious effort to pre-judge but the reality is that somewhere in your mind, a judgment call is being made.
First, we must accept this reality. Secondly and more importantly, how can we use that to our advantage? Let us confine our discussions to the business world. The more you learn on how to become a better speaker, the easier it will be to give the impression on being a very knowledgeable business expert. With practice and hard work, most people can give a prepared speech very well. The true test for anyone is when you are asked to give an answer to an impromptu question at a meeting or on a one-to-one situation. If your answer is given in a precise, knowledgeable and comfortable manner, most people will assume that you are an excellent business person. However if your answer is rambling, disjointed and stumbling, people will judge you not very kindly. Think of a job interview. If you are hiring the replacement for your assistant and are down to the final 2 candidates which candidate would you choose? Candidate one who answered all your questions with poise and confidence or candidate two who was nervous and stumble at answering most of your questions. Most of us will say candidate one. If we are really honest with ourselves we will admit that we want someone who speaks well and may lack a little knowledge versus someone who is an expert but speaks very badly. So, the key is to learn and practice. You can learn from books, mentors or coaches about the art of speaking. You can then put this knowledge to use by practicing every time you get a chance to speak. Whether it is at the water cooler, at a business meeting or just with strangers, use your knowledge to practice your speaking skills. Who knows, you might like to speak even more!