• October 2014

Stand Up, Take a Deep Breath, and Develop Your Public Speaking Potential

By Hilary Blair
CEO and Lead Coach,
and Robin A. Miller, PhD
COO and Lead Coach
ARTiculate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, ARTiculateRC.com

Close your eyes and imagine:

  • You are a fabulous speaker and communicator.
  • You love sharing who you are and your ideas.
  • You can feel the audience “with” you when you speak.
  • You can feel the meeting going really well.
  • You can feel the agreement from the whole room as you finish speaking.

Now open your eyes. Was that all just a dream? Yes—and no.

  • Yes, it may be in your imagination.
  • And no, because you truly have access to it.
  • This is your potential.

Here’s why.

I’m a coach. Developing the potential in my clients is what I do on a daily basis. As a result, when I look into someone’s eyes, I don’t just see what is before me. I see all that they can be. In fact, I see them already being exactly where they are going to end up. Pretty cool, right?

Case in point: I recently worked with a client who came to me with solid confidence, but underdeveloped speaking skills. She could sense a disconnect between what she was doing and what she could be doing. It was invigorating to give her specific suggestions to guide her. It didn’t take long for her ability to communicate clearly to skyrocket. We both knew she had potential. Now, she’s living up to it.

What do you do if you don’t have access to a public speaking coach?

Coaches come in all forms, and many people who know and love you can help you find ways to communicate more clearly.

Public speaking is an exercise that is part mental and part physical. Athletes know that to improve their performance they have to cultivate the right attitude, and reinforce it by practicing and ratcheting up the reps.

The same is true for those who aspire to improve their public speaking abilities. The idea to keep in mind is this: You gotta think it, and you gotta practice it, so you that good communication skills become part of your muscle memory.

And remember this: Don’t let anyone psyche you out. It continues to amaze and sadden me how severely others can tear us apart and shut us down. Sometimes we may not even realize that subtle negativity has seeped in and eaten away at our confidence.

The first step is to realize how phenomenal you already are!

Now stand up, take a deep breath, and unlock your potential:

  1. Identify someone who sees your potential. It could be you, a friend, a professional coach—or all three! Be really sure they are on your side—ask them what they see in you, and if you agree, enlist their guidance.
  2. Identify and reinforce the skills you have. You will need a lot of practice and repetition to reinforce what is working.
  3. Leave behind old ideas of who or what you thought you should be. Shed those restrictions and step into who you know you are. Some of those restrictions could be in the form of rules around how to speak, what to speak about, and whom to speak to. They might even be constraining your notion of what you should wear.
  4. Now, find a “sandbox,” any place you feel comfortable, and practice your speaking skills. Play, build, knock it down, and play again.

Your potential is right there waiting for you to develop it. Make room in your heart, mind, and life to be the best you possible.

Now go back to the top of this article and read those five affirmations again. It’s not just a dream. It’s your future self.

Don’t stop now! Click here to watch this video of Hilary Blair explaining: How to Unlock the Potential of Your Public Speaking Ability.


About Hilary Blair

CEO and lead coach for ARTiculate: Real & Clear, Hilary Blair, MFA, with physiological guidance from Jennifer Spielman, MM, MA, CCC-SLP, is an admitted breath snob.

A presentation and speaking voice expert, Blair is a highly regarded coach and facilitator working extensively across the United States with businesses that include American Express, Janus Funds, Staples, Liberty Global, and Hunter Douglas. She uses her skills and experience as a stage, film, and voice-over actor, teacher, and voice coach to help people in a variety of positions, including entrepreneurs, CEOs, writers, and project managers.

Her coaching is informed by what is unique and authentic in the individual or group. In addition, she facilitates workshops that use improvisation to improve leadership skills, team-building, and creativity. She is on the faculty of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and has been adjunct faculty for a number of universities. An active member of Toastmasters and a board member of VASTA—the Voice and Speech Trainers Association—she holds an MFA in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a BA from Yale University.

About Robin A. Miller

Robin Miller is an energetic, motivational keynote speaker who has also spent more than 20 years in teaching, training, and coaching. Her specialty is in guiding the well-thought individual to become confidently well-spoken in settings such as interviews, meetings, and keynotes. Her clients include Coors, the University of Denver, and Sterisil.

She has performed vocally and conducted numerous musical groups throughout her career, as well as taught music at Baylor University, the University of North Texas, and Texas Christian University. Her expertise in navigating customer communication derives from her experience as a customer relationship manager in the financial industry, and as a development specialist in some of Denver’s leading Level 1 trauma centers, as well as her advanced training in mediation and crucial conversations. She earned an MM in music, a PhD from the University of North Texas in Musicology, and a MDiv from the Iliff School of Theology.

Blair and Miller acknowledge the amazing voice teachers with whom they have had the privilege of working: Chuck Jones, Rocco Dal Vera, Gary Logan, Patsy Rodenburg, Catherine Fitzmaurice, and Kristen Linklater, to name a few.

For more information, visit ARTiculate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, at ARTiculateRC.com