Bolstering your ability to deliver speeches that speak directly to your clients is one of the five core skills essential in business, according to Aaron Hanway, district executive member at Toastmasters International.
The first of these skills is confidence, said Mr Hanway.
He said: “Speech craft will help you develop confidence. For some, getting up and giving a speech fills them with fear, however just standing up to say a few words is all that’s needed to get you started. Do it again and you’ll be a little more comfortable then before, and with that your confidence will grow and continue to grow.”
Secondly, speeches can help hone the capacity for objectivity, because its purpose is to convey a message to another person – which requires an individual to view their thoughts from a foreign perspective, Mr Hanway said.
The third skill is communication. “Business is about connecting with others, and to do this you have to be able to communicate effectively. Only a small percentage of a message are the actual words used, mostly others pick up the meaning of a person’s message from their body language and how they are speaking.
“Delivering speeches will teach you these subtleties of communication. When you are up in front of a group of people you immediately become self-aware, and over time you will learn how to move with purpose, and to change the rate and volume of your voice to suit the particulars of your message.”
Fourthly, a lot of research and preparation goes into delivering a presentation and so the capacity for self education, understanding your topic, properly sourcing your material and checking your facts, underpins the other skills, Mr Hanway said.
Empathy is the fifth skill.
“To be in business, or to be an effective leader in any career, empathy is one of the most important traits you need,” Mr Hanway said.
“Through speechcraft you develop empathy because you cannot write a good speech without it. A great speech speaks to the head and the heart. You have to understand your audience, not just intellectually but emotionally as well. As you develop this skill it will help you become a more effective communicator and better leader.”
Ian Lowes, managing director of Newcastle-based Lowes Financial Management, said: “Learning how to give a presentation is one of the most important skills people should learn. One of our main activities is making presentations to retail clients. My first presentation was a nerve-racking experience, but now, having done more than 100, I no longer find myself pacing up and down the floor.
“I would say that confidence is one of the more important skills in my line of work. Advisers should be confident in their own abilities and in what they tell their clients. Clients are unlikely to respond well to an adviser who is constantly second guessing him or herself and appears unsure in their delivery.