Chris Aukland is the managing director of specialist recruitment agency Ambition and is responsible for the growth and management of the Hong Kong business. He has 15 years’ consulting experience in the UK and Asia.
Practice makes perfect in public speaking, says Chris Aukland of Ambition Hong Kong
I have been working in PR for over a decade and love the work, looking after CEOs and celebrities who visit the city. But recently my boss said she wants me to take a bigger role that would mean more exposure and some public speaking. I’m fine one-on-one with clients but the idea of talking to rooms full of people is terrifying. How can I overcome this fear and get ahead in my career?
Congratulations! The fact that your boss wants you to take on a bigger role is fantastic news for your future career, and it must mean that she believes you have the capability to do so. The other good news is that you have already identified public speaking as a skill that you need to work on, so you just have to work out how.
There are a lot of people out there who are also terrified of public speaking, as I was when I started my career. This means that an entire industry has developed in response to this problem, and there are now countless websites, blogs, books and training organisations that provide coaching on public speaking and delivering winning presentations. Have you discussed your need to develop these skills with your boss? Perhaps your company would be willing to sponsor a training course. This is obviously an ideal scenario, and not all companies can offer this. But even if sponsorship is not possible, there are plenty of other strategies and resources to explore. I recommend you take the time to do some research and then decide what would be most suitable for you.
Once you have done some reading, or attended a few courses, and are ready to get going, then I believe there are two key secrets to public speaking success: preparation and practice. It is impossible to become a public-speaking sensation overnight, but, like any skill, with consistent practice you will improve and become more comfortable and a more engaging speaker. If you don’t feel ready to present at work, practice in a non–threatening environment, such as at a training course, social event or in a public speaking network. You need to push yourself out of your comfort zone but, once you practice and become comfortable, you will forget that it was ever a challenge.
When it comes to developing a winning presentation, there are many resources available to provide guidance.
My top tips are:
Prepare and practice
Engage your audience
Create effective visuals
Use some humour
Relax and take a deep breath
Remember, this is a great opportunity for you to learn a new skill. If you approach the challenge in a positive manner, it can only help you to be more successful in your PR career.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Practice makes perfect in the public speaking challenge.