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Public speaking is not a display of intelligence

It’s an outright imperative for leaders to first maintain their composure and second, to get their communication right. If people don’t understand you, it’s not an automatic fault of the listener. You — the sender of the message — must have played a very crucial part.

For over 15 years as a professional public speaker, I have come to different places, speaking to diverse audiences — from business owners to rank and file workers. In those years, I’ve learned many things about how important communication is in making progress. Failure in business doesn’t happen often because of bad luck. Many times, ineffective communication — or worse lack of communication — is the reason.

Public speaking in the Philippines and elsewhere play a vital role in rallying your people to achieve your leadership agenda. If you haven’t noticed yet, major events that shaped world history had someone — a leader — who spoke in front of a crowd and the crowd listened to. When they got the message correctly, they succeeded in their cause. But first, it was the speaker — the leader — who made the people understand the message.

A great leader doesn’t assert his intelligence when he speaks in public. He does it behind closed doors in a boardroom where his core leaders discuss their idea. Once a leader stands behind the podium, he speaks in language and terms which ordinary people understand. Great leaders, in a public speaking perspective, must have an authentic connection with their audience or they will find themselves making more enemies than they make more friends.

As an audience myself, I can easily find speakers who are faking it — simply reading their prepared speech hoping that they can fool their audience. It happens many times on different occasions. But that’s not a sustainable way of getting the job excellently. Public communication in a form or speaking is done with authenticity or you don’t do it at all.

Simply put, your audience is smart enough to feel if you’re true or fake.

Every leadership role is not without a leader taking part in the communication process. In other words, the way you convey your message is as equally important as your message itself. When you have a great message and you delivered it ineffectively, it’s as good as giving a bad message. You don’t want your good message to go to waste for it’s not only the message you would have wasted. It goes with the time you spent preparing it, reading or delivering it plus the effort of the audience listening to you and their time and attention doing that.

When we are not understood by our people, don’t automatically fault them. More than anything, your role is to have a message and make it understood by the people. The burden is mostly on you. Besides, you know for a fact that as a leader, you lead. Thus, lead them to a conversation that is worth everybody’s time.

Establishing an authentic connection with people is a learnable skill. Should you want to lessen your get-the-best-of-me scenes in your life as a leader, you’ve got to learn to communicate with authentic messages while establishing a real connection with the people who listen to you.



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But having a message and delivering it is only one part of the process. I have seen a lot of leaders today who speak lousily and irresponsibly but simply open their mouths thinking that a come-out-what-may strategy appeals to people. This is entirely untrue and in my role as founder of the Public Speaking Institute, is easily unacceptable.

As a Filipino public speaker, my philosophy has always been this: “Public speaking is not a show of intelligence but a display of authentic connection.”

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