Public Speaking is a Vital Part of Project Management

February 22, 2009
For many of us the notion of speaking to a large crowd is very daunting and not something we would choose to do for fun, however public speaking is an essential skill for any project manager and therefore to lead a successful team it is a fear that must be conquered.  

It doesn’t matter whether you’re addressing thousands of people at a public assembly or simply discussing project plans with your team at work; if you can’t express yourself clearly and confidently the content of what you say will be lost entirely. 

This brings us on to the first point and the main factor in delivering a successful speech – your confidence. If you are not confident in what you are saying then how do you expect your listeners to be? This heavily depends on the content of your speech, but for arguments sake let’s say that you believe in what you’re saying; now you need to convey this in your tone of voice. Be passionate and enthusiastic, this will transpire over to your piers and hopefully make them feel the same. There are a myriad of things you can do to give yourself confidence, such as presenting yourself well, preparing thoroughly before hand and knowing your audience. 

Simple social techniques can be employed between you as the speaker and your audience. Eye contact is a vital and often overlooked aspect which will quickly and easily bridge the gap between you and your listeners; remember all their eyes are on you so simply returning this gesture can maintain their attention. If you are nervous at the beginning concentrate on a familiar face before moving on to others. Interaction such as asking questions, or opening up a dialogue between you and your audience will also help to get them involved and make them invest in what you have to say. 

Everyone tends to talk extremely fast when they are nervous during public speaking in order to get the ordeal over and done with as soon as possible however you must refrain from this common mistake. You need to pace yourself, take deep breaths before you begin and control your breathing while you are speaking. A calmly delivered speech will be listened to, whereas a rushed one will soon be forgotten, so pausing to gather your thoughts is a good idea. 

Props, visuals and other peripherals are excellent to maintain your audience’s attention and should augment what you are saying but not over shadow it. PowerPoint presentations are a good aid to illustrate key points in your speech and can provide brief relief from constant spiel but limit your usage of extras such as these because you do not want to detract from the power of the spoken word. 

These points are a good foundation for positive public speaking, there are of course hundreds of other aspects that can be taken into consideration.

About the Author:
John McE writes articles on a number of subjects including project management training and other courses. For more about this see P M Professional.

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