I am a voracious reader and passionate about books so if I want to learn anything new I purchase a book. When I wanted to hone my public speaking skills to become a better workshop facilitator I of course, purchased several books on public speaking and voice power. One of the best books on the subject is Power Speaking: The Art of Exceptional Public Speaking written by Achim Nowak. Mr. Nowak has coached hundreds of Fortune 500 presenters as well as spent many years as a seminar leader and actor so his credentials are noteworthy.
The book is divided into three sections. Part one is “The Art of the Craft.” Here you will find informative suggestions and numerous, fun practice exercises on voice techniques, body movement, gestures and eye contact. Part two is “The Art of Connection.” Here Mr. Nowak describes the difference between someone who technically delivers a very good speech versus someone who can really connect with the audience and thus inspire and move an audience. There are chapters on intention, forming the talk, and how to use humor in a speech which is very helpful chapter if like me you have no joke telling skills. There is also information on how to create discussion and overcoming a resistant or hostile audience.
My favorite section was the third and final section titled “The Art of the Flow.” In this section Mr. Nowak talked about how the truly powerful speaker presents to the audience the core of themselves. “It is rarely about the content of what we are saying: it’s about what we radiate from the inside.”
Now many people might not buy into that statement by Mr. Nowak, but I have found that when I have discard my notes, start connecting with each member of the audience and began speaking from my heart about the essence of the topic versus the exact wording, the audience can feel my interest and compassion. How do I know the audience feels this? Because I see their posture change and their eyes begin to light up. It makes for a very different experience for the audience and I then begin to loosen up have fun. I am learning to let go of the idea of making every point written in my talk and go for the essence of the speech and rapport with the audience.
The book addresses this topic with chapters on clarifying core values which then shine through the speaker, tips on how to release fear and embrace vulnerability before an audience and how to create spontaneity. All of which remind us that the content is less important then showing that you really care about your audience.