One of the biggest keys to success in life is being able to communicate clearly. If you’re the smartest person in the world, but can’t explain your ideas to anyone else, it doesn’t matter. Many people struggle translating their ideas into actionable chunks. Others struggle with getting up in front of a crowd. They talk too fast, use jargon, business buzz words and end up losing their audience. The best public speakers I’ve seen talk slowly, clearly and have broken their ideas into small pieces that people can understand. I left the startup panel at SXSW 2010 thinking that Naval Ravikant knew what he was talking about. He talked slowly, clearly and delivered insight. If you watch the best TED Talks, they all do the same thing.
I’ve always been interested in trying to improve public speaking, but never had a good idea until I came to Chile. We were at an entrepreneurship panel held completely in Spanish with four speakers. Most of the speakers talked slowly and clearly, but one was clearly nervous, making her speak even faster than normal. I had trouble understanding her for awhile until she worked out her nerves.
So pretend your audience is made up of people who know your language as their second language. If you do this, you’ll speak more slowly, use smaller words and break your ideas into chunks. I’m not suggesting you dumb down your presentations. Speaking simply and clearly is not dumb. In fact, many times it’s even harder. That’s why you often see websites with a full paragraph of text without having any idea what they actually do. But that’s for another blog post.
Public Speaking Keys
- Slow down. Then slow down again. You’re probably still talking too fast.
- Avoid jargon and business buzzwords. Communicate simply and clearly
- Relax. You know more about your subject than your audience.