Most Important Skill in the World Today – Public Speaking

Young girl speaking with microphone

Public speaking and the ability to present with impact is the most important skill in the world today.

The capacity to connect with others with confidence, eloquence and impact can help us to develop stronger relationships both in and out of the workplace. It can help people to like us better, help us to get what we want, to avoid conflict, and to even change the world.

Through the ability to communicate with clarity and spirit we can flourish in so many ways. Whether it’s personal or business success, reducing stress, winning friends and influencing people or simply dealing with bullying in the school or workplace.

Life is a 24/7 365 day a year conversation; when we are not communication with friends, family, customers, colleagues or complete strangers the internal dialogue still continues in our mind.

The language we use internally and externally directly influences every single aspect of our lives as it’s our thoughts which drive our feelings, which trigger our actions that ultimately produce our results. At the very heart of that communication trail rests our skill in the way we present ourselves both verbally and non-verbally to the entire world; starting with ourselves.

Brilliant academic qualifications, world class technical training, status, position or experience are all severely hindered in the absence of the ability to express ourselves with the confidence.

For every great leader, communicator and achiever in the world there are countless people who are suffering and struggling needlessly because no one has helped them to value their voice. So many of us have not been taught how to connect emotionally as well as intellectually with others.

Speaking is easy; it’s something we begin to learn at the age of 9 or 10 months old. Once we have grasped it, with a few corrections here and there from our parents and teachers it becomes a largely autonomic, habitual function.

Some of us are taught better than others but very few of us are taught the art and science of speaking in a way that allows us to confidently pursue our dreams. The way we communicate can deter our fears and anxieties and add value to a world troubled by competition and conflict.

Mindful Presenter was created with the sole purpose of helping, challenging and inspiring people to communicate with each other far more consciously.

Each week we work with professionals who live in fear of the prospect of presenting themselves either publicly or in the workplace. Highly gifted, talented, creative and intelligent people are paralysed by anxiety at the very thought of simply standing in front of a handful of colleagues or customers to share their ideas.

Despite its significance this vital skill is so often neglected and dismissed by those in a position to help us to find and own our true voice.

As the cycle of communication is passed down from generation to generation the blame can never rest with our parents because most of us weren’t taught to master the life enhancing skill in the first place. Perhaps we need to turn our attention to our leaders in both education and business.

As a young boy at school I was taught to read, write, remember and repeat. I was spoken at all day long and occasionally offered the opportunity to speak in the expectation that I would raise my hand to answer a question. Given that my reptilian brain had been conditioned many thousands of years ago to stay safe at all costs, raising my hand to potentially be ridiculed and judged by my class mates if I got the answer wrong wasn’t something I was eager to do.

I knew how to raise my hand of course but no one had taught me to how overcome the fear and anxiety of doing so with so much at stake. Needless to say, you would never see my little hand amongst the other 2 or 3 standing alone in a class of more than 30 of us.

I knew the answer but I simply didn’t have the confidence to share it. I’ve often felt that had I been taught to do so as a child life would have been so much easier academically, socially and professionally later on. This article isn’t about me; it’s about the vast number of people we see in our workshops who struggle to express themselves as effectively as they would like to.

Despite all of the advances in education, communication skills and public speaking is still not given the place and attention it so greatly needs. Ironically, despite my respect and admiration for school teachers who  do such a thankless but brilliant job of caring for and educating our children many of even the best teachers haven’t been taught to overcome the problem themselves.

Having been trained to share their field of expertise most teachers excel with flying colours. However, if you take many of them outside of their comfort zone to address a room full of adults you will often find the same or similar level of anxiety.

I love teachers they do an incredible job so let’s leave them alone and consider our business leaders.

Given the importance of such a vital skill in the workplace it seems to me that far too many leaders simply do not recognise the enormous potential of the people working for them.

Many do not make it a priority to help them to communicate more effectively because they believe it’s simply not their responsibility. They lead in the assumption that their staff were taught the art and science of communicating effectively and with confidence by their parents or teachers or at the very least at University, and so it is not their job.

Some were, but many were not.

At Mindful Presenter we work with some of the biggest and most successful brands in the world and its really exciting to see the most forward thinking, emotionally intelligent and inspirational leaders who understand that public speaking and presenting is not a ‘soft skill’ as many choose to call it.

It’s the leaders who are driving change who recognise that its far easier to train someone to use a piece of technology, machinery, process or system than it is to help them to communicate in a way that is calm, compelling, concise and purposeful. Connecting with fellow human beings in a way that creates harmony, hope and happiness is a great deal harder than learning to follow a sequence of instructions.

Every day in companies across the entire world there are meetings and conferences taking place where the same people are saying the same things in the same ways that they have always done and expecting people to just ‘get it’.

It’s the same few people raising their hands to ask the same questions whilst the rest slope into their chairs, eyes down in the hope that they won’t be called upon to speak as they were all those years ago in school.

Just imagine the impact on our society and businesses if leaders understood that by far the most important skill and gift they could give their team was the ability to speak with confidence, power and authority. Imagine the surge in self-esteem, creativity and contentment of so many more people speaking with passion and authenticity.

We live in a world full of people who carry with them such passion and power for making it a better place that the greatest gift we could possibly offer them to help them to succeed is the means to help them express themselves skilfully.

I feel honoured, encouraged and inspired to work with so many people each week who are looking to find their authentic voice to develop the confidence and speaking authority to make a difference in their own way.

Here are a just a few of the people and organisations we have worked with in the last week alone who demonstrate their commitment to being heard and play their own part in changing the world for the better. Each of these people recognise that their greatest asset to help them achieve their aspirations is their own voice.

Finding their true voice

1.  Awareness

A man who despite having faced his own personal health challenges and holds a senior position with an insurance company is campaigning tirelessly to raise awareness of the widespread impact of kidney disease and the research and support needed. He has the passion, knowledge and experience to have a significant impact on not only supporting the research desperately needed but is intent on developing his speaking skills to ensure that his voice is heard. I have no doubt that he will succeed and use his voice to help save many lives. If you would like to support him and the fabulous work Kidney Research UK are doing please you can learn more through their facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/kidneyresearchuk/

2. Passion

A young lady working extremely hard in the corporate world that recognises that her true passion is to help young people, and she is intent on helping them in the best way she can by becoming a teacher. To succeed in her quest she recognises the need to develop her confidence and speaking skills to help shape the future of our young people in the teaching role she aspires to achieve. She too will undoubtedly succeed and in the recognition of the importance and value of finding her own authentic voice she will help a great number of young people to be heard as well.

3. Success

A young university graduate who has two goals; the first of which is to make a success of himself to enable him to repay his parents for their significant investment in his upbringing and education. The second is to leave a legacy by making a difference to the financial support of small businesses like the very one he has just started. He is an extremely bright, gifted, and creative young man who appreciates the potential value of his voice and is looking to develop his speaking skills to repay his parents and leave his legacy. It’s an honour to help someone so young in his quest to make a difference rather than simply make money for himself.

4. Vision

A senior finance professional working for a global company who is tired of sitting around the board room table listening to the same people say the same things in the same way every month where everyone dreads going to them. With a desire to challenge the status quo and break the monotony of the painfully boring and repetitive meetings he has made a decision to raise his game and that of his colleagues. He is clearly a leader, and the world will thank him for his foresight and courage.

5. Pride

A very proud father who was extremely nervous about giving his only daughter away at her wedding and having to make a speech after the ceremony. With the intent to honour, respect and give his daughter and son-in-law his blessing and best wishes he knew that he had to have the confidence and tools to deliver his speech in a way that would celebrate his daughters marriage and make her proud. I have no doubt that his daughter will appreciate his efforts.

6. Drive

A hugely successful global brand who recognise that their organisation is far more than a business. They exist to make the world a much safer place for all of us and to save lives in the process. Despite employing some of the most intelligent people you could imagine and teaching them to use some of the most advanced technology and engineering systems in the world they know that it is ultimately their voice that will continue to make the world a safer place. Far from content on relying on their market position and brilliance they are helping everyone in the organisation to find their true voice and to communicate more effectively.

As much as I admire their spirit, passion and energy it seems to me that each of these people just like myself would have benefited immensely from some form of presentation or public speaking skills training at school, university or in the workplace.

If you believe as I do that we should be preparing, equipping and teaching our young people from the youngest possible age to speak with confidence, authority and impact and you share my view that the only way in which we can truly make and impact is by building it into the school curriculum, please let me know.

‘Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.’  Yehuda Berg

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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com

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