Be a Public Speaker More Often, but not in the Places You Expect

You know you need to do more public speaking and you don’t need me to nag you about it. Of course speaking at conferences, company events, and Meetups is awesome for taking you out of your comfort zone, test your ideas, and it helps build your personal brand.

I’m not talking about that kind of public speaking. Those opportunities are both rare and time consuming.

Instead, look for more opportunities to do extemporaneous style speaking. (In case it’s been a while since your high school speech class, extemporaneous means speaking without preparing.)

So by this I mean, look for any meeting of more than a handful of people, stand up, and represent a point of view or advocate a vision. It could be in a meeting room. It could be post scrum. It could be at lunch. These opportunities come up a lot more often so you’ll get a lot more practice and you’ll definitely build a brand quickly in whatever organization or community that is.

But here’s the challenge: in a formal, prepared talk you have a lot more control over the message and the context whereas extemporaneous opportunities are fleeting and the contexts varied. Put simply, you’ll have to think and speak on your feet.

Here’s a hack: use the rule of three. That is, have three topics that you’re able to talk about at work (or whever), and have three things you can say about all three. If you have those nine data points easily accessible you can easily adapt them to almost any extemporaneous context.

If you do it often enough, people will see you as a leader. And you’ll see yourself that way too.

Go forth and be great!

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