Back in the old days, when we came up with a new idea that we wanted to use in a speech, we really didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to trying out our new idea. Oh sure, there were family and friends, but you know as well as I do that because of the importance of public speaking they would never tell you if one of your ideas was really bad. What we were desperately missing was a test audience – one that could give us honest feedback on our speech idea. Well, fast forward to today and it turns out that now we all have what we’ve been looking for – a social media audience.
Say Hello To Social Media
Speakers should try their virtual audiences as a sounding board for their ideas. We want to write like we speak. A well-written article should explain any topic as if you were having a conversation with a friend. In today’s online world, we can update this idea to now include: “Speak like you tweet.” With the arrival of social media, we can further hone our communication skills through repetition and regular practice with a virtual audience. Let’s face it, social networks have become a part of daily life for most people. Facebook boasts a staggering 800+ million users, Twitter hosts Trump and past U.S. President Barack Obama and politicians of both parties. With this comes no shortage of opportunity to customize social networks for learning about nearly any topic, including, of course, public speaking.
This may surprise people who view online networks as being the opposite of interpersonal communication. But if you are a smart speaker about how you use social media, you can develop speaking strategies that translate far beyond the podium. The tools that you have at your disposal include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks as a sounding board to see whether your topics, phrases or jokes resonate with an audience before you try them out for real.
When I post on or browse social media sites, I consider questions related to my real audience and improving my communications skills, including:
- How can my wording sound conversational and not stilted?
- What subjects are relevant to people right now?
- Can I be more concise?
- Who are the people who have gained a large following around this topic and what are their tactics?
- Does my topic pique people’s interest?
- What posts from others are getting the most reaction and why?
Use Social Media To Make Your Next Speech Even Better
The good news is that posting status updates is only one of the ways to benefit from social networking. As speakers, we learn just as much, or more, from observing and asking for help from others. One way to tap into our social media tools is by doing what is called social media “crowdsourcing” –– idea generation through the help of your social network. One way that this can help is if you’re stuck for a topic and don’t know where to begin. An easy way to do this is to ask for people’s favorite jokes.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still no substitute for standing up in front of a live crowd. I only speak for myself when I say that I continue to learn every time I give a speech. But if you want to continue to learn outside of meetings and formal events, view social media as yet another way to grow in your communication abilities. Or learn to express yourself succinctly in less than 140 characters.
What All Of This Means For You
In this modern day and age that we find ourselves living in, speakers now have an incredible resource available to us. In the past, when we had an idea for a speech or we were stuck and could not come up with what we wanted to say, we could only turn our small collection of friends and family. However, with the arrival of social networks, we can now reach out to countless people and ask them for their opinions and have a better chance that we’ll be able to deliver the benefits of public speaking.
The power of our social media resources is that they can be used as a type of sounding board for our next speech. They have opinions and can provide feedback on virtually any topic. The goal of using your social media contacts to try out an idea before using it in a speech is to see if your ideas resonate with your virtual audience before you try them on a real audience. When we are using our social media tools, we need to spend time considering questions that are related to our real audience. We can become better speakers by observing and asking others for help. Social media “crowdsourcing” is a great way to get new ideas.
The arrival of social media networks provides speakers with a powerful new tool with which to create our next speech. We need to take the time to understand how these tools work and then apply them in a way that can make what we’ll be telling our real audience mean all that much more to them. Take the time to use your social networks and your next speech will have a better chance of connecting with your real audience.
Question For You: What do you think is the best way to get feedback from your social media network?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
The ability to stand in front of an audience and use the importance of public speaking is a powerful skill to have. It turns out that we can take this skill one step further if we are willing to teach ourselves how to use our speaking abilities to sell a product. The good news for speakers is that we are already doing most of the work that is required when we create, practice and deliver a speech. However, when we want to use our speech to sell something, there are a few extra steps that we’ll need to take.