A brilliant professional woman was on an international business trip with a group of her colleagues. For most of the trip she was quiet and took notes while one of her colleagues boldly spoke and directed the meetings. This quiet role was not a professionally assigned one, but one that this woman had become comfortable with for most of her life. They met top country officials who did not seem to acknowledge her. She felt a bit overlooked. This had happened on a number of business trips.
It was not until the final day of meetings that someone suggested they go around and give a little bit of their background, that the country officials were surprised to hear that she was one of the team’s seasoned members, because she had been so quiet. Actually, they had assumed that she was the secretary! Their respect and surprise went up even more when they discovered that she had been educated at Harvard! Through this experience, she realized just how much her speaking or lack therefore, had been hurting her career and her personal life. She decided to do something about it!
Taking Charge of Your Speaking
“I talk just fine. People know what I am saying. Why would I need to speak better? It’s not that important. Even, if it does matter, it’s only for people who have to give presentations and speeches!”
This is one of the biggest deceptions we could ever carry. Public speaking coaching is not just for those in the spotlight on a stage or in board rooms. We are ALL in the spotlight! Every time we speak and someone listens, WE ARE in the spotlight. The truth is “we are always communicating”*. We cannot escape it. It is our biggest asset or unbeknownst to us, our biggest liability. What would have happened if the above trip determined an important promotion for her or impacted the final outcome of these important meetings? Some of the times, though, crucial and unexpected opportunities occur in the everyday conversations. That’s what we want to be ready for. What we want is to intentionally cultivate talking that serves us well instead of hurting us. There is no neutral ground.
How This Works For Your Children
For our children, we want to harness this skill at an early stage so that for the rest of their lives, their speaking unconsciously works in their favor because speaking well has become second nature to them. Their speaking becomes their best resume (besides their education) wherever they go. In my book “Slay Shyness: 7 Smart Steps Every Parent Can Take Now to Skyrocket their Child’s Confidence and Get Them Ahead of the Game!”, I introduced two important elements that will make your child a powerhouse communicator.
Building their self-worth (The True Self List) and Building their speaking technique (The Greeting Game). I would like to share 3 more valuable tips to use now, in building outstanding speaking skills in your child.
1. Posture: Encourage your daughter to always walk with her shoulders back, her neck straight and her face forward instead of looking down. With a beautiful smile constantly brightening her face, it will help her feel empowered (mentally, emotionally and physically), calmer and more confident.
2. Discuss: Firstly, remind him to start his statements without using filler words “ummm…uhhh”. As he is thinking of what he wants to say next, he should pause quietly and then speak. Encourage discussions with your son where he can express his thoughts in full sentences…in the car or at the dinner table. The more your son learns to think of his ideas and clearly outline them well verbally, the more his speaking will become intelligent and credible.
3. Tone: Your daughter’s remarks are already smart. However, she could be diminishing their potency and undercutting her confidence by ending her sentences in a questioning tone. When she does that, it makes her sound like she is not sure of herself and not sure of what she is saying. Unless she is asking a question, her statements should end in an affirmative tone – with her voice remaining steady and clear, as opposed to her voice rising as she ends her words.
What She Did…
The brilliant young woman in the story above, approached me for coaching. After 5 weeks of working together, she found herself in a situation where she had to give an impromptu speech at a meeting. She spoke clearly, coherently and with such ease that it actually surprised her how easy and how unself-conscious she felt. She was excited to see this transformation in herself. Speaking should be like that for all of us!
The key to success with all these tips I am sharing, is consistency. Make practicing to speak well a daily habit. It will serve you and your family well in a world where we are all in the limelight and people are ready to hear us expressing ourselves with intelligence and with heart!
Tell us your story of when you recognized that your speaking helped or hindered you. What did you decide to do about it?