By Shelli Vasser Gilliam, Public Speaking Coach
The new year is a unique opportunity to challenge our mindset, commit to thinking and doing things differently, and focus on growing personally and professionally.
I said Yes! to a new opportunity to join Global Public Speaking at an exciting time while the company celebrates its 10th Anniversary. I moved from performing work I was quite comfortable with to challenging myself to focus on something I have spent my life working toward: helping people overcome their fear of public speaking and build their confidence to speak up.
When was the last time you said Yes! to a new role or opportunity? What are your educational, personal, or professional goals for the new year?
Public speaking and presentation skills are critical competencies everyone should possess. Why? When you build your skills, you build confidence in yourself and your abilities. When you build your confidence, you find the courage to speak up, which changes you and the world around you.
Our team defines public speaking as anytime you speak with one person or more. If you’ve given presentations, spoken up during meetings, shared a State of the Organization speech, introduced keynote speakers, handled difficult conversations, or served as a moderator or panelist, you’ve exercised public speaking skills.
We also believe that public speaking is a skill, not a talent. It’s not something we’re born with—it’s something every one of us can build with practice and the right tools.
Here are five opportunities for improving your communication skills in 2023:
1. Say Yes!
When you are presented with opportunities to speak, whether 1:1 or in front of an audience, say Yes! Your initial thought may be to decline or find an excuse not to speak. Remember that every opportunity is a chance for growth; even introducing another speaker is a chance to build your skills and confidence.
If your manager is deciding who will lead and deliver a new assignment, I encourage you to raise your hand and speak up!
Download our Everyday Public Speaking workbook for more strategies.
2. Take microsteps to improve your skills.
There are many online and in-person courses available to help strengthen your communication skills. We offer dozens of free Quick Tip videos and blog posts. If this email was forwarded to you, sign up to receive monthly strategies.
Additionally, we are always here to discuss in-person or virtual workshops, or 1:1 coaching to help you handle difficult conversations and increase your confidence before your next speech or presentation.
3. Become an industry advocate or community ambassador (or both!).
Is there a charitable cause, organization, or issue that matters to you? I have colleagues and friends who have harnessed their public speaking skills, along with project management, legal, and fundraising skills, to improve the lives of people in their communities.
Whether you are searching for fulfillment outside of your career or want to make a name for yourself inside your organization, you can volunteer to be an ambassador for business projects or become an advocate for philanthropies, membership groups, and support causes that are meaningful to you. Fine-tuning your communication skills works in your favor whether you obtain these skills in a personal or professional setting.
4. Volunteer for your organization’s Employee Resource Group.
Within your organization, you may have access to Business/Employee Resource Groups (BRG/ERG) that encourage diversity and empower employees to take a more active role in their organization. How can you volunteer in those groups?
If your company does not offer BRGs/ERGs, you and your team can look for other ways to advocate on behalf of diverse groups within your organization.
5. Embrace practice as a way to be more authentic, not perfect.
Our clients often say they fear that practice will make them sound too polished or inauthentic. However, you are practicing for confidence, consistency, and comfort – not perfection.
Practice introducing yourself in one sentence each day. Speak while looking into the mirror and watch your body language and expressions. The more opportunities you have to use your public speaking skills, the more prepared you will be for those everyday opportunities to speak up.
Recently, we launched AMPLIFY, an instant practice platform using artificial intelligence powered by Yoodli.ai. The platform is available anytime you sign up for a 1:1 coaching package.
AMPLIFY includes drills and speaking games, and allows you to record yourself and receive time-stamped feedback. Using this technology will help you understand your pace, how much you smile, and the filler words you frequently use. Incorporating AMPLIFY into your practice routine will also help build your confidence for last-minute presentations.
Practicing your public speaking and presentation skills will help you become a more effective communicator and achieve each and every goal you set for yourself in 2023.
Personally, I wanted to use my public speaking and presentation skills to help people overcome their fear of public speaking. How will you use communication skills as part of your 2023 goals? I’d love to hear from you at: firstname.lastname@example.org.