When we think about public speaking, most of us tend to think of standing and speaking to other people while being physically in the same space, or maybe talking at or with just one or two other people we know, again, in person. Here’s the reality: Being physically together represents less and less of our public speaking. This trend toward public speaking remotely using technology was already well underway before the pandemic and has only picked up steam in the last few months.
We learned a lot about the science and art of public speaking in LEAD 24/7. There were three main takeaways we emphasized: Be yourself. Get rid of the noise. Delight your audience.
Here’s the good news: Even though the forms of public speaking are changing, everything you learned about public speaking is just as important—perhaps even more so in an increasingly digital age!
A couple of months ago Rodger gave some great tips for how to present yourself well on Zoom. I’d like to reinforce and build on that today.
A digital presence simply refers to how you appear online. We often think “digital presence” means what people find when they search for your business or company on the internet. Digital presence includes content that you control like your website and social media profiles, but it also includes content that you don’t control, such as online reviews. And it includes your public speaking.
It might be helpful to think of public speaking in four quadrants:
This is what I was describing in the first paragraph. We are physically with people we know and we’re speaking to them. But even this has changed since the pandemic. We sit or stand farther away from each other, and we might be required to wear masks. Part of our faces may be covered, but we still can express a lot with our eyes and body language and good use of our hands.
These are times we’re speaking with a group of people who we do not know, or don’t know well. Being yourself, being honest, delighting your audience, using story and analogy, and getting rid of excess gestures and noise is really important in making a great first impression.
If you’ve been using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype (and you probably have!), you know how tough it can be when there are technical problems that could have been addressed beforehand, when audio issues distract, or when a speaker fails to bring energy and delight. Digital props, pictures, whiteboards, dialogue, and eye contact are even more important because people are spending so much more time meeting digitally than before the pandemic.
You have likely experienced having to give a first impression via a digital medium. Being aware of your background, lighting, and sound are all extremely important. And don’t forget: you still need to be yourself! Be prepared. Finally, since your image is unhindered by a mask, be aware of how powerful your facial expressions are.
Rodger highlighted some additional things in his video—like positioning yourself well in the camera frame (forward and center) so others see you. It’s a distraction and unnecessary noise when we overlook these kinds of things. Again, the good news is that everything you’ve learned about public speaking has NOT changed even though HOW we communicate continues to change.
Lead on and speak well in all these quadrants!