Whether you are beginner at public speaking or an experienced presenter, you’ll benefit from The 7 Principles of Public Speaking by communications expert Richard Zeoli. I thoroughly loved the book because of its informative content, numerous activities, engaging writing style, fascinating stories, and relevant quotations. In fact, it’s a valuable resource guide to refer to often.
Even though I do a lot of public speaking I learned much from the book. Not only did it emphasize core principles, it presented numerous techniques for making you a better speaker.
I’ve come up with 10 questions that summarize most of the key points in the book. But before looking at my answers, how would you respond to them?
Take a few minutes to jot down your answers on a piece of paper. Jog your brain cells a bit.
- What are two or three benefits of being an effective communicator?
- What is more important in public speaking: having good technique or connecting with your audience?
- Are effective public speakers born or made?
- What do people fear most when speaking publicly?
- How do I overcome “stage fright”?
- What’s the best way to become a better speaker?
- What is more effective: to “show” or to “tell”?
- In public speaking, what are some ways you can best serve your audience?
- How can you prove your credibility as a speaker?
- What is more important: the length of a speech or the information conveyed?
How did you do? Compare your answers to the following review of the book.
1. What are two or three benefits of being an effective communicator?
According to Richard Zeoli (RZ), we can overcome any challenge – professional or personal – through effective communication. We can express our feelings better, become more confident, persuade others, sell a product or service more convincingly, shine at a job interview, make more money, and improve our personal and career situation. A pretty impressive list of benefits I would say!
2. What is more important in public speaking: having good technique or connecting with your audience?
RZ would argue that both are important. But to be a really outstanding speaker you need to know and do more. You have to be aware of the seven timeless principles in connecting with your audience that he teaches in his book.
To be sure, you need to know how to introduce your talk to catch the interest of your audience. Also, you need to know how to conclude your presentation. Most importantly, however, you need to know how to be yourself. It will make your message all the more powerful, concise and effective.
3. Are effective public speakers born or made?
The good news is that good communicators are made. The bad news is that you have to constantly work at it, just like anything else if you want to be remarkable. “Most people are effective speakers because they train themselves to be so.” They educate themselves. They hire a coach. Or they just do it a lot.
In one of the many valuable activities appearing throughout the book, RZ suggests you ask yourself these questions:
- What is your greatest strength as a speaker?
- What are your greatest challenges?
- How would your rate on scale of 1-10, your greatest anxiety before speaking, during speaking, and after speaking?
- Who are your favorite speakers and why?
4. What do people fear most when speaking publicly?
Here is one of the memorable quotations that RZ uses when dealing with fear. In talking about people’s greatest fears, the popular American comedian Seinfeld joked: “More people fear public speaking more than death. Which means if you are like the majority of people at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.”
Here is what people fear most: making a mistake and having the audience think you are a jerk, blanking out and not knowing what to say, freezing up and starting to stutter. RZ’s thought on the matter: “When you make a mistake, no one cares but you.” Simply put, people don’t care and probably don’t even know you’ve made a mistake.
5. How do I overcome “stage fright”?
Another common fear that people have is standing in front of a seated group. It’s something we are not familiar with because we don’t often do it.
RZ’s cure for stage fright: practice visualization on a regular basis. See yourself standing in front of people being calm, clear and focused. Michael Jordan, one of the all-time great American basketball guards, would spend hours a day visualizing himself making the big shot and winning the game.
Picture yourself achieving your goals. RZ comments: “The mind can’t distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. . . . If you picture with intensity the scenarios you want, your mind has a funny way of making that happen.”
6. What’s the best way to become a better speaker?
There is no magic formula according to RZ. Practice speaking on a consistent basis. One of the best things you can do is talk in front of a full-length mirror. Watch yourself, your posture, your hands, your face.
RZ recommends treating “public speaking not as a hobby, but as a necessity for being effective in life.” Regularly use positive affirmations. You tell yourself, for example, “I am a champion, and I am ready. . . . I am focused. . . . I am an effective communicator. . . . I am ready.”
7. What is more effective: to “show” or to “tell”?
One of the most effective things you can do as a speaker is to be a storyteller and make your presentation personal. As RZ notes, “People don’t care about facts as much as they care about feelings.”
So don’t just tell the audience, but make them experience what you say. Show how a story is memorable and why it affected you. According to RZ, “People are interested in motivations behind human actions and reactions.”
8. In public speaking, what are some ways you can best serve your audience?
An audience will love you if you show that you have their best interests at heart. So serve your audience. Teach them, motivate them, entertain them or educate them.
Make your speech interesting and relevant to your listeners. Empathize with them and show you understand their struggles. Show your audience how you can make their life better. Help them overcome an obstacle, be more effective, have a richer life, or feel more confident.
9. How can you prove your credibility as a speaker?
A key to being an effective public speaker is making a credibility connection with your audience.
There are many ways to show that you are worthy of trust:
- being experienced in the area
- having the right educational background
- winning awards
- publishing articles
- showing past achievements
- presenting testimonials.
10. What is more important: the length of a speech or the information conveyed?
Unless you were given a specific time limit for your speech, RZ recommends “always leave your audience wanting more.” This is a case of “less is usually more.”
Make your speech informative. Make it enjoyable. And once you have made your point and supported it, exit left.
So the seven core principles are 1) Perception (being yourself), 2) Perfection (preparing yourself), 3) Visualization (mentally seeing yourself speaking), 4) Discipline (practicing and affirming), 5) Description (telling stories), 6) Inspiration (serving your audience), and 7) Anticipation (making your speech shorter than expected.)
Which of these principles is easiest for you, and why? Which is the hardest?
Make the Connection will help you make the link between the seven core principles discussed in this article and written and spoken English.