“My top public speaking tips are simple. They’re simply to relax, focus on your message and your audience – and yes, it really is that simple,” Toronto Public Speaking Coach Thomas Moss told Rogers Television during a recent taping of the cable company’s Know It All program.
Know It All features local experts in the Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA) Durham Region, where Moss told host Barbara Clifford that relaxation, difficult though it may seem, is not only possible but desirable when speaking in public. “The bottom line is that being stressed out about doing a presentation isn’t going to add any value. In fact, it’s likely to reduce your effectiveness. So there’s no other logical choice.”
Moss, who has worked with hundreds of clients in both one-on-one and workshop environments, insists that public speakers can reduce their stress significantly simply by following his advice to focus on the audience and the message instead of themselves. “What your audience wants is value. If you give them value they will forgive and forget everything else. So it really comes down to knowing what your audience wants, what they need to hear and how to present that information in a way that’s interesting and understandable. That’s all they want from a speaker.”
He tries to avoid the word “speech”, the former copywriter and PR professional told Clifford because “It conjures up images of those exercises we had to go through in school where you had to pick a topic, whether it interested you or not and you had to present it to your classmates, who were probably as disinterested as you were.” That experience, he said is the opposite of what he likes to do for clients.
His approach is to help clients to analyze their fears of speaking in public, put those fears in perspective, which allows their presentation skills to develop. He accentuates the positive, helps resolve issues and encourages clients to let go of past experiences to express themselves without self-consciousness. “What most people don’t realize is that audiences want the speaker to succeed. Audiences want to learn, to hear new ideas, to gain something from the presentation that they didn’t know when they entered the room. That’s all. And they don’t care what the speaker looks like or whether he or she has perfect delivery. All they want is value.”
Many of his clients, he said, have told him that the work they’ve done with him has helped them build self confidence as well as speaking skills. “I work a lot on self confidence because without it, I think presentation tips are pretty hollow tools. I want clients to develop skills that are valuable in all areas their lives, not just when they’re speaking to groups.”
He said the first time he realized that what he was doing was having benefits beyond the podium or the board room was when one of his clients came to a group session and said her behaviour was changing. “She said ‘I went to buy gas this week and when I didn’t receive the correct change from the attendant I raised a fuss. In the past I would have just shrugged and walked away, but this time I didn’t. I demanded the correct change and when the attendant resisted I demanded to speak to the manager. When the manager arrived I stood my ground . . . he gave me my change.’” He knew then, Moss said, that he was doing something important and began trying to provide that same value to everyone he worked with.
Moss said that while he works primarily with one-on-one clients he’s also happy to provide corporate workshops where he involves the entire group in providing feedback to speakers. “I find the group experience can be very powerful for everyone,” he said.
The Know It All segment will air on Friday, April 20 at 2pm and be repeated on:
Saturday, April 21 at 3am and 6pm
Sunday, April 22 at 6am
Monday, April 23 at 2pm and 11pm
Tuesday, April 24 at 1pm
Wednesday, April 25 at 3am and 8pm
Thursday, April 26 at 8am