The $100,000 Speech

How are you progressing towards your new year’s resolutions? If you’re not, don’t worry about it.

I have a proposal for you.  You can implement it today.  Here it is: Scrap all your new year’s resolutions and have only one resolution – improving your public speaking skills.  You may disagree with this proposal but I challenge you to disagree with it after you finish reading the next paragraphs.

A few months ago, my childhood friend entered a business startup competition sponsored by few large companies.  After the elimination process, he qualified for the finals of the competition.  Five minutes separated him from winning or losing the competition.  All the work he accomplished over two months was to be judged on those five minutes.  He had to face five tough judges – the CEO’s of the companies sponsoring the competition – to convince them that he had the best business startup idea.  And he did. He won over the rest and was crowned as the best.  He received a prize of around $100,000 and free consultancy services until he established his business.

I was so happy for my friend when he told me about his story.  I asked him: What was your edge against the other contestants? Was it your business idea?

He replied: Not the idea.  I won because of my speech.  Some of the contestants had good ideas too but they could not communicate them effectively to the panel.  $100,000 for a five minutes speech!  It is mind boggling if you break it further. For each minute he spoke, he received $20,000.  This story confirmed my firm belief that public speaking skills can do wonders for our personal and professional lives.

This belief was confirmed further two weeks ago when I finished reading a book entitled “How to Sell Yourself” by Ray Grose.  The book offers practical ideas on how to sharpen up your personal image to impress everyone in your organization and to achieve promotion quickly.

In one chapter, the author suggests five tested and tried ways to boost your image.  Here they are: (i) public speaking, (ii) Giving “Good” presentations, (iii) the nasty word “Selling”, (iv) the morning welcome and (v) step forward.  When I finished reading this chapter, I thought the author could have summarized it in one sentence:

“Become an Effective Speaker.”

Apart from the last idea, all ideas relates to public speaking skills.  For example, giving presentations is one form of public speaking where speakers inform the audience about certain matters.  In addition, when it comes to “the nasty word,” the author is referring to speakers who are selling things like their ideas.

In this article, I am selling you the idea of scrapping all your new year’s resolutions and having only one – improving your public speaking skills.  Effective speakers know the sales process and prepare diligently before they approach their audience with their ideas.  Sales is part of life. We sell when we try to persuade another person to do something, buy something or take on board an idea, whether the object of your persuasion is work colleagues, friends and family members.  So why not start learning how to use public speaking skills so that you achieve your life dreams faster?

Finally, effective speakers know the importance of the morning welcome.  They arrive early in the speaking venue to greet the audience as they arrive with a warm welcome with a sincere smile and a confident handshake.  They do this because they know that rapport with the audience should start before the speech begins, and they know that the audience will be friendlier if they have already met the speaker.

The benefits of being an effective speaker are many and are beyond this article.  Look around you; many people attribute their success to this one skill – Public Speaking.  The choice is yours. You could continue working on your many New Year’s resolutions or focus on this priceless skill but before you do so, keep this in mind: my childhood friend did not win his $100,000 because of his business idea but because of how he communicated his idea.  I trust you will make the right choice.  Work on your public speaking and it will be a step forward you will never regret.

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