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Practice Management > Building Your Business

5 ways to improve public speaking

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The following is an excerpt from Jock Talk: 5 Communication Principles for Leaders as Exemplified by Legends of the Sports World. 

Success is all about the floor time. When it comes to a career trajectory, executives, like athletes, often come up through the ranks by earning more and more floor or field time, demonstrating at each step of the way that they have the necessary competencies behind them and a ton of potential ahead.

For executives, like athletes, the path is sprinkled, if not littered, with public speaking opportunities. Communication is the most basic currency of business and success — no one gets ahead without needing to speak or present in front of others. The persona you cultivate and project — the tone  you strike, the voice you use, the attitudes you convey — can be career-markers or –breakers for athletes and executives alike.

At the end of the day, you, like a professional athlete, are responsible for building a franchise — by winning fans, fostering team and brand loyalty, motivating others, displaying and building enthusiasm, behaving admirable in the spotlight, and handling public criticism and praise equally well.

Trust me when I say that no one is “a natural” at speaking and presenting; even the best of the best think about it and work at it. So whether you’re pretty close to the pro level or still an amateur, you can adopt and adapt the basic tenets here and being to move the dial on your performance, right away.

Below are five fundamental principles of communication that will give you the confidence to know that you’re “doing it right,” and it will give your audience the impression that you’re an all-star.

The five principles are:

- Audience-centricity

- Transparency

- Graciousness

- Brevity

- Preparedness

Taken together, they send two really important messages about you to your audience:

1) That you care about and respect them

2) That you’re real and therefore credible and trustworthy



It may be a new term to you, yet it’s probably the most fundamental of the five principles. Simply put, audience-centricity is making the audience’s interests and experience a top priority in the planning and execution of a talk.

Too many speakers prepare and deliver what is important and interesting to themselves without enough careful considerations of their listeners. Being audience-centric is a mindset shift that encourages the speaker to prepare and deliver content in a way that will matter to and resonate with the audience.

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It is exactly what you think it is; it’s about being open and direct — yes, and honest, too. Transparency is critical. It contributes to the levels of sincerity and trust that are accorded to you by your audience.


It is the art, skill, and willingness to be kind-hearted, fair and polite. As motivators and influencers, love and peace work far better than anger and war. Speaking in positives rather than negatives leaves lasting, favorable impressions.

See also: You have 8 seconds to connect with your audience or make them fall asleep



It is a crowd-pleaser and needs no further introduction.


It speaks for itself as well, especially because the unprepared speaker is the one who is most likely to be long-winded — not to mention unfocused. While the mere thought of preparation might bring feelings of dread or even impossibility, there are ways to prepare that take only seconds but that can greatly enhance a speaker’s effectiveness.

Success is in the eye of the beholder — your audience. Athletes do best when they give their physical all. Leaders do best when they give their emotional all. Show care and respect, be real, and your audience will listen and be impressed.

See also:

7 social media tips for insurance pros

20 of the best insurance jokes

Doing business the Eleanor Roosevelt way


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