Written by Hayley Jaqueline Ashworth
As PR professionals, communications is our thing of course. We do it every day. Yet whether it’s a new business pitch, a presentation to investors or a desk side with a top editor, delivering your message can be nervewracking.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with Anna Roberts, a is New Zealand-born T.V and Radio presenter. With nearly ten years of experience and working in both Auckland and Dubai, she certainly is no stranger to public speaking. In 2015 Anna launched her communications advisory agency, Nudge, and a year later, I’m | Anna Roberts. Nudge offers public speaking and media training for clients across a variety of industries, while I’m | Anna Roberts is a multimedia platform targeted at business women and focuses on life, business, and style.
We discussed public speaking and what communications professionals can do to become even more effective at delivering our messages and sharing our stories. As she attested, “even though the majority of us can all walk with ease every day; we wouldn’t just wake up and run a full marathon; you would train for weeks, work up incrementally and have a support network around you.”
So where do you begin?
With preparation. Public speaking is not a time to simply ‘just wing’ it. Use everyday scenarios as rehearsal opportunities. The next time you catch up with a colleague, or a friend who works outside of your industry, mention the presentation and give her your key talking points. You could even run the entire thing by her and ask for feedback. Did a job or analogy fall flat? Are you repeating the same word, using terms that might be too technical for your audience, or breezing through industry jargon assuming everyone will keep up? Discussing and researching part of your speech with others will increase your muscle memory so that when you do get on stage or walk into the boardroom, words flow easily.
When it’s time to present, Anna explains that fear of public speaking is completely healthy, but that moving through that fear comes down to two things; one, how much you trust yourself and your abilities, and two, what your body does in uncomfortable situations. A shortness of breath, shaky legs/hands and sweaty palms are your body’s natural response when your body thinks it is in danger. Luckily it doesn’t last, and Anna says that “after about 20 seconds you’ll become comfortable with your new environment.”
To help us further, Anna put together these 3 public speaking tips for PR Professionals
Listen to yourself
Listening to your voice may make you cringe, but you need to do it if you’re going to improve how you communicate with others. Record your telephone conversations or listen to the voice notes you send to people. Once you know your style and tendencies you can then start to play with different vocal techniques.
Watch for verbal cues from your audience
Communication is a two-way street. You need to hear what your audience is saying so you can improve your message. Look for head nodding, smiles and knowing glances. If everyone is on their phones, you might need to amp up your delivery.
Use the Rainbow Passage
The Rainbow passage is like as an exercise for your tongue. It includes most of the sounds in the English language and will make sure your mouth is moving in the right way to hit all those intricate sounds. Read it out loud every morning, slowly, and you’ll be amazed by how clear your voice will start to sound.
Practice does make perfect, and public speaking can help you to grow your influence, build trust and notoriety and land new opportunities for both you and your clients. All reason to making public speaking a priority for you as you advance in your career.
About Hayley Jaqueline Ashworth
Hayley graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University, England with an MSc in International PR. Having spent the last couple of years traveling and exploring the world, during which she completed the PR Couture PRISM course, Hayley has settled in Dubai where she is currently interning and finding her place in the Middle East’s communication industry. You can follow her Instagram and Twitter to keep up with her adventures.