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Leadership by Talking

Being able to communicate what we want people to hear is an important part of effective leadership. However, it is a skill we often do not work hard enough to improve. Great leaders can inspire and motivate, but ultimately they cannot get the job done without good public speaking skills.

Since most communication happens by talking, we need to learn to speak clearly and convincingly. Without effective communication, we cannot lead. We will end up taking a walk on our own with no one following.

How good is your ability to communicate?

Public Speaking

If we as doctors and health care workers want to be successful, we need to learn to speak our ideas clearly and professionally. Public speaking is a valuable communication tool to inform, motivate, persuade, influence, and even entertain listeners.

A good speech should change the emotions and thoughts of others. A good motivational speech will inspire the audience to act or make a difference in their lives, in their communities, and maybe even in the world.

It is Not Easy

Speaking to a large group of people can be difficult and overwhelming. In fact, the fear of public speaking is the number one fear for more than 40 percent of the world’s population. Public speaking is rarely easy for any of us, but there are steps you can take to improve your presentation and increase your influence.

If fear is decreasing or destroying your ability to give effective and powerful speeches, use these ideas to improve your skills:

  • Get a clear understanding of your audience. The more you know about them, the better you can adjust your words to fit their needs.
  • Do not read from your notes for a long amount of time. As soon as you start reading, your audience’s attention will drop. Instead, use an outline or note cards and communicate ideas instead of just words.
  • If appropriate, include some humor. Speakers who make people laugh in the first few minutes greatly increase their audience’s attention.
  • Include a story or two that support your point.
  • Talk loud enough so people in the farthest part of the room will be able to hear you.
  • If you make use of PowerPoint, use it wisely.

Avoid Bad PowerPoint

Many public speakers use PowerPoint. It can be a powerful way to share your message and inspire people to make a change. However, we have all sat through never-ending PowerPoint presentations. When the speaker finally stops, all you can remember is how boring it was. You may have even gone to sleep.

The most common audience complaint is that speakers put too many words on their slides—and then read all of them. Used wrongly, PowerPoint presentations can be awful. Unfortunately, very few of us have received helpful training. We have learned to use PowerPoint on our own.

Ideas for Success

PowerPoint cannot make you a better speaker. That will take effort and practice. But PowerPoint presentations do not need to put people to sleep. Used correctly, they can increase the effectiveness of your communication and make your speech come alive.

A public speaking expert suggests that successful PowerPoint presentations include 3 components: words on the screen, the words you speak, and pictures or images you show. Each of these impact your audience, but some more effectively than others.

The impact of a PowerPoint presentation:

  • 7% = words on the screen
  • 38% = words you speak
  • 55% = pictures or images on the screen

This is interesting considering most PowerPoint slides contain only words. But PowerPoint is capable of so much more.

6 Tips to Remember

Here are 6 tips for using PowerPoint that will improve your communication:

  1. Tell a story

    The goal of any presentation is to sell the audience on an idea. They need to know 3 things:

    • Where we are now
    • Where we want to be
    • How we are going to get there
  2. Use few words

    Do not use sentences on your slides. Your audience is smart enough to only need a few words. And never use words on the screen as a script.  You will kill your audience if you read to them. 

  3. Use pictures

    Instead of words use mostly picture and images. Be creative. Find pictures and short video clips on the internet.

  4. Make it easy to understand

    Keep information, numbers and statistics simple. If you cannot see and read data from the back of the room, leave it out.

  5. Grab attention and entertain

    People are easily distracted. A boring PowerPoint can be the death of your presentation. Keep it fun and use it to enhance speech.

  6. Keep it Short

    If your audience becomes bored, they will stop processing new information and begin to resent you for wasting their time. One public speaking expert believes an ideal presentation should not be longer than 20 minutes.

Sample Slides

Each of following PowerPoint slides was created to help a speaker explain this point:

72% of part-time workers in Japan are women

If you were in the audience, which slide would help you best remember that statistic?

Develop Yourself

When PowerPoint is done right, it can be an excellent communication tool.  But you are the key element of your speech so do not try to hide behind a PowerPoint presentation. Use your excitement and charisma to take the audience on a journey of knowledge and interest. Develop your voice and become a better communicator. Learn to organize what you say and deliver it with enthusiasm, interest and passion.

Use your leadership skills to be a good influence. Look for opportunities to encourage others to join our fight against smoking. By working together we can save lives and reduce smoking related disease.

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