Posts Tagged ‘Durham’

Public speaking training: courage, humility and practice

Jim Coyle wrote an interesting column in the Toronto Star a while back about Ontario power Generation president Tom Mitchell that makes some statements about public speaking training. Mitchell had just delivered a speech to a Toronto crowd on the refurbishment of the Darlington generating station, just east of Toronto. As he waxed poetic about the complex “nuclear choreography” required, he joked about his speaking skills, referring to his description as his “inner artsy coming out”. He added that, “Public speaking was not a required course in engineering school.”

The value of courage and humility

It takes courage and humility for someone at Mitchell’s level to make that kind of comment. But he obviously recognizes the value of courage and humility when it comes to public speaking. You don’t have to be “artsy” to be a good speaker; you just have to be genuine. And Mitchell has obviously learned that lesson well. He’s discovered that taking any and every opportunity to speak in public builds presentation skills. For someone in his position, building skills in public speaking, training yourself to communicate effectively, is absolutely essential. You learn by doing. Public speaking itself becomes public speaking training.

An opportunity to connect

And when you become comfortable with speaking to groups, something very satisfying and valuable happens. As Mitchell puts it, “. . . I’m beginning to like it a bit . . . it gives me an opportunity to connect with people – and vice versa.” Did you notice that last phrase: “it gives me an opportunity to connect with people – and vice versa”? That’s an awesome ability – to be able to connect with people and have them respond.

Charismatic leaders inspire

We’ve all heard about the charismatic corporate or political leader who can “connect” with his or her people, inspire them and encourage them to follow him or her anywhere. And most of us have worked for the taciturn boss who speaks when he or she is spoken to and generally avoids human contact. And those of us who have had that opportunity are familiar with the outcomes.

We build bonds

The real value of public speaking and training ourselves to communicate effectively is the bond we build between ourselves and our audiences. It’s hard to build a positive relationship with someone who’s afraid of you. And it’s hard to resist someone who can take you into his or her confidence.

Reaching out gains support

Mitchell knows this and he uses it. By opening himself to his audience, Mitchell opens his audience to him. “Lately I’ve been focused on this subject of connections,” he says, and goes on to goes on to say that he feels his industry has “become disconnected” from the people it serves. And based on some of the comments I see in the Toronto Star and other media, I’d say he’s right. But let’s give credit where credit is due. Mitchell knows that by reaching out, by standing up and speaking, often to a skeptical audience, he can gain more support than if he let his fear of public speaking control him and force him into silence. Particularly because negative rumours fill the silences left by those who refuse to embrace the opportunity to communicate.

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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.