Good speakers are born that way.
Being shy will prevent you from being a confident speaker.
You need to have a theatrical flair to capture an audience’s attention
If you believe any of these statements, you’ll be relieved to know that these are merely generalizations.
Being able to translate one’s thoughts into words and then speak phrases and sentences in a way that communicates effectively with other people is actually an astounding skill that only humans possess. While birds may sing and dolphins emit sounds to their peers, only humans have the range and fluency we know as verbal communication.
But with this unique skill comes a range of abilities based on genes, nurture and practice. Some individuals are truly gifted, captivating speakers: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King are known for their extraordinary speaking skills. But for most people, early nurturing in storytelling families, practice in school and coaching are the keys to becoming a good speaker.
Can inherently shy individuals become good speakers? There’s no reason people can’t prepare their thoughts and practice a presentation or the dialogue they can use when called upon to speak. Jessica Chastain, Lady Gaga, James Lipton, to name a few, consider themselves “shy” or “introverted” by nature. But that hasn’t stopped them from rising to the top of their professions as actor, singer, interviewer.
Practice in storytelling, even at the earliest ages, primes children to express their thoughts and experiences. Even as adults, we enjoy a speaker who tells a story using natural speech melody, expression and body language.
You can achieve confidence as a speaker by learning the tools of “dialogue” to capture the interest of another person or many people and make any speaking situation a “give and take” process.
Too many people view public speaking as theater, yet most trained actors and accomplished speakers will tell you they learned the techniques of speaking in public despite their shyness, and in some cases, articulation or fluency difficulties. Consider this little known fact: Marilyn Monroe’s breathy voice was her technique for coping with a stuttering disorder.
Young children can be nurtured to become good speakers in their families and in school, while teenagers and adults can develop the “art” of speaking and gain confidence by coaching and practice.
Great speakers are taught, not necessarily born that way!
Check back soon for more articles on effective speaking, writing, executive function skills and speech-language pathology.