How to find and develop public speakers within your organization

Going beyond the boardroom will broaden your opportunities for cultivating those who know your company best and can speak on its behalf with passion and confidence.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in your organization was great at public speaking?

You could send them to large conferences to represent your company. Their speaking skills could distinguish your brand as an industry leader and expert.

Maybe this great speaker is on staff right now, but you (and possibly they) don’t know it yet. The good news is that great public speakers share certain characteristics, so they’re easy to spot.

Rather than focus on your top executives, look around your entire organization for the person or people best qualified for the job.

Pay attention to see who might have the following qualities:

They are generous. People who excel at communication share information freely; they don’t hold back. Speakers who give more tend to connect more with the audience and make the greatest impact.

They are confident. To command attention, the speaker must be comfortable, relaxed and engaged, not so scared that they blank on their next point. Public speaking can be nerve-wracking, so look for employees who find it easy to share their opinions publicly, those who are solid presenters in internal meetings.

They are self-aware. To be a successful and effective public speaker, you must recognize who you are as a person. In other words, you must know your own humanity—your strengths, weaknesses, abilities and shining qualities. This requires being introspective and self-aware. Is there someone in your company known for poking fun at themselves to get a laugh? Maybe you’ve seen them helping someone else and relating the fact that they, too, had a hard time learning a process or procedure? Pay attention to how your employees interact, and you will find someone with self-awareness.

They have a knack for telling a story. People attend a presentation to learn something, but what keeps them in their seats and engages them is old-fashioned storytelling. It’s easy to spot the storytellers. When everyone else has been asked, “How was your weekend,” and answered, “It was good,” or “Great, thanks, and you?” the storytellers will share the funniest or most heart-pounding anecdotes of what they experienced over the weekend.

They are passionate. Who in your company is excited to show up and do the work each day? Who shares their enthusiasm for your company’s vision? This is someone to keep your eye on.

They are a natural teachers. Who on your team will help newcomers get a handle on the transition? Who volunteers to help with training sessions? Those who can naturally teach one person can get up in front of hundreds and teach them, as well.

Once you spot one or two people who show those qualities, spend time nurturing their skills and getting them ready for public speaking engagements.

Here are ways you can prepare them:

Groom them to be leaders. Begin to give your natural speaker more leadership roles. This could be as simple as asking them to lead a meeting. Speakers must recognize their capacity to influence others.

Help them develop their unique qualities. Great public speakers are not carbon copies of anyone else, though they may speak on similar topics as other presenters. Great speakers have learned what makes them unique and original, and they let their authenticity shine. Sometimes people may not recognize what makes them special or unique, especially younger people. Share with them what you find valuable and interesting about your speaker, and then help them to refine these skills and qualities.

Sign them up for a course. Even natural-born speakers need refinement. When you think of the value this person will add to your organization, you won’t mind paying to get them some extra training. Your speaker will learn the basics, such as making eye contact, pacing their speech and dealing with nervousness. More important, they’ll get life experience that will give them confidence to go out and take on bigger challenges.

 Ashish Arora is a co-founder of SketchBubble.comYou can find him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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