Lions and tigers and….. public speaking!? Oh my!
If you are a music therapist, you know the feeling – you’re on an airplane or in an elevator when someone asks you what you do for a living. The 30 seconds that follow have the potential to forever shape that individual’s understanding and view of the vast world of music therapy. No pressure!
The vital importance of being an effective communicator and speaker cannot be over stated. Whether your field is music therapy, marketing, or dog sitting, you have the power to help others understand the value and efficacy of your work. So much about an individual brand or company is communicated in the initial, first-impression conversation and it’s crucial that you are prepared.
Recently in symposium, we discussed the (slightly overwhelming) topic of public speaking/presenting/communicating effectively. Here are some helpful take aways if you’re looking to boost your ability to persuade, engage, and win-over others.
- Know your audience! Before you are able to effectively “sell” anything (whether services, an idea, a suggestion) to anyone, you first have to understand why it matters to them. If you were speaking to a woman who has an 85-year-old mother with Dementia, do you think you would describe music therapy differently than if it were a man with a 4-year-old son with Autism? Knowing your audience is so important to understanding how to effectively communicate with a variety of people. When beginning a conversation, practice asking quick questions to get to know the person, where they’re coming from, and what they’re looking for in music therapy (or any other topic/field you may be discussing).
- Know your material. If you are educated, knowledgeable and well-rounded in your area of expertise, you are already set up for success to be an amazing communicator! Remember, you are the expert. Own what you say. Use confident language like “we do” and “we are”, and be prepared to answer a variety of questions that might arise. If you truly know your material, whether it is a 60-minute presentation, or a quick exchange in line at the grocery story – it will make all the difference in your confidence and will impact the other person’s quickly-forming opinion of you and of the field.
- Focus on the message, not on yourself. This is key! As soon as we stop worrying about what the audience/other person is thinking of us, or how our voice sounds, or what our hair looks like, etc. etc., our message immediately becomes more impactful! Focus on exactly what you want to communicate and on the power of your message.
For more helpful tips, visit Toastmasters.org. They have a variety of free resources, from articles and videos to podcasts and conventions. Some of the above tips were drawn from the following video:
And remember, haaaaave fun with it!