Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Ruben West, who creates international speakers and coaches and helps them to create magnetic personal and professional messages. His gift is to help you discover your signature speaking style. For more info www.blackbeltspeakers.com.
SmallBizLady: Why do so many people find it difficult to speak in public?
Ruben West: When most people think of what a good speaker sounds like, they are thinking about someone other than themselves. They often talk about how natural and easy it is for the speakers that they listen to, to communicate. What they don’t realize, is that they have a natural communication/speaking style. If they were able to identify what that style is and understand the pros and cons of that style they would never want to speak like someone else and speaking would become much easier for them.
SmallBizLady: What do you say to the person who has gotten help with their speaking but still feels uncomfortable?
Ruben West: I think it’s unfair that most speaker trainers are only training people to speak like and sound like them. They don’t worry about figuring out who the person is that they are training. It’s much easier for them to use a one-size-fits-all plan. This takes a lot less time than trying to understand who the client is as a person. For this reason, many individuals go through various speaker training programs but still end up feeling like there is something missing. The whole time the client was focused on their outcome the trainer was focused on their income.
SmallBizLady: How do you feel the training should work?
Ruben West: In my opinion, speaker training should help the client better understand who they are and how they communicate. No one likes one-size-fits-all clothes nor do we like one size fits all training solutions. In the end, many people are left feeling like a number. It causes us to be hesitant and to believe that we may never be able to master our message or reach our target clients. When in fact the problem wasn’t their inability to master their message, the problem was that they were being taught to imitate someone else’s speaking style.
SmallBizLady: Are you saying that two people can’t have similar speaking styles?
Ruben West: I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that we have all witnessed someone on the stage speaking and captivating the crowd. Then, after the event, we approach that person to speak to them and they’re completely different than the person on the stage. We are left thinking, “who was that?” What I’m saying is, you cannot consistently be who you are not. The best thing to do is to learn your signature communication/speaking style and build off of that. This allows you to be relaxed and free on stage as well as be yourself when you walk off the stage.
SmallBizLady: Why do you feel like it’s difficult for speakers to find speaking events?
Ruben West: Great question! It’s usually because they’re looking in the wrong places. One of the benefits of knowing your signature communication style is that you also learn what audiences resonate the most with your message and delivery. There is no shortage of opportunities to speak. There is a shortage of individuals who know how to leverage their communication style with groups that need to hear them speak. By figuring out who you are as a speaker and building on that you will not only resonate with your target audience but will also get invitations to speak in other places. Now you’re growing your influence and your speaking skills.
SmallBizLady: Tell us about the signature speaking styles.
Ruben West: After watching and studying many speakers I’ve developed a signature speaking style assessment. It breaks speakers down into five categories. The Scientists, the Drill Sergeant, the Comedian, the Motivator and the Heart-Centered speaker. Each one of these speakers are necessary and they are effective communicators. However, they don’t communicate the same way. If someone is going into speaking and they haven’t yet determined what their signature communication style is it is likely that a person training them will not focus on their strengths but rather give them some generic techniques to use to make them a better speaker. This will more than likely leave them frustrated and disappointed with the results.
SmallBizLady: Do you believe that anyone could be a good speaker with the right training?
Ruben West: Yes! I believe that with the right help everyone can significantly improve on their speaking. I believe that individuals have the right to be taught based on who they are not who we want them to be. I believe that people have the right to get what they paid for. I think more people in every service industry should start paying more attention to the client and what they’re looking for and less focus on what we want to give them. Isn’t it funny that no one has a problem speaking in front of their friends and family? That’s because, they’re just being who they are as opposed to trying to be someone they’re not. When the training starts out by discovering who the individual is and then build from there the possibilities for growth are endless.
SmallBizLady: Ruben, breakdown two of your signature communication styles so that we can get a feel for what you have?
Ruben West: Let’s compare the Drill Sergeant and the Scientists. The Drill Sergeant believes that many more individuals could be successful if they just took more personal responsibility. The drill sergeant isn’t really concerned about your feelings. They are only focused on the end result. They are always ready to speak and need very little time, if any, to prepare. By contrast, the scientist believes that more people could be successful if they just had the right formula to follow. The scientists/teacher feel more comfortable using charts, graphs, PowerPoints and the like. Typically, they are not prone to speak on the fly but would rather have more time to prepare their materials.
SmallBizLady: So are you saying that the first step to being a great speaker is learning your communication style?
Ruben West: I am saying that my mentor Les Brown told me that speaking is a projection of who you are. The more I have spoken around the world the more I know this to be true. Once you discover your signature communication style you also discover what you are not. Now, you can start adding certain elements and stories that will captivate, motivate and inspire the other communication styles within the audience. In the end, what most people will discover is that they have a little bit of each style in them. However, they have a dominant primary and secondary style. Once they understand their style, now they can start to add communication techniques and make them feel natural and comfortable because they’re speaking from a place of power.
SmallBizLady: Is it better to work on your speaking one-on-one with a coach or in a group?
Ruben West: I don’t think the one on one versus the group is the main issue for the way you work on your speaking. I think the main thing to identify is if the individual that you’re working with starts off with an assessment of you and or the other group members. If they don’t take time to figure out who you are then you’re just a number. If they take the time to figure out who you are as an individual, then you know that there building on who you are not who they want you to be.
SmallBizLady: Is there a way for individuals to take your assessment?
Ruben West: Yes. Whether you are new to speaking or you have been speaking for years the signature speaking style assessment is a great way to understand your base communication tendencies. It is a series of 35 questions that you can answer that will give you a foundation as to who you are as a speaker. What I can tell you is that it will make you think. Also, you will no doubt have a primary and a secondary communication style. It is these combinations that make us unique and individual as communicators and speakers. Go to www.taketheassessment.com and answer the questions to discover your signature communication/speaking style.
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