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“Your ability to speak to an audience is essential to your success. Speaking well can garner the respect and esteem of others, make you more valuable to your company, and get attention from people who can help you and open doors for you. Good speaking ability will also convince people that you are generally more talented and intelligent than others who do not speak as well.

What is your most valuable asset? Your mind. One of the most precious skills you have is your ability to think well and to express yourself clearly. This skill can help you earn more and get promoted faster as much as any other talent you can develop. After all, the only way you can demonstrate your mastery of a subject is by expressing your thoughts and ideas clearly aloud and in writing. When you speak well, people say, ‘‘He really knows what he’s talking about.’’

The good news is that your mind is like a muscle. It grows stronger and more capable with use. Organizing your thoughts and words in advance makes you more alert and aware of what you are saying and how you are saying it. The act of planning, preparing, and delivering talks and presentations forces you to use your mind at a higher level, and it actually makes you smarter.

Some years ago, I gave a one-day seminar on executive effectiveness to a group of businesspeople. During the talk I emphasized the importance of being able to speak well and influence people in business.

At the end of the day, a somewhat shy businessman came up to me and told me that, as a result of my comments, he had decided that he was going to learn how to be a good speaker. He was tired of being ignored by his supervisors and passed over for promotions.

A year later, I received a letter from him telling me his story. He had immediately taken action on his resolution. He joined a local chapter of Toastmasters and began attending weekly meetings. At each meeting, each member was required to stand up and speak on some subject, and each person was given a grade at the end of the meeting.

Toastmasters uses the process of ‘‘systematic desensitization.’’

This means that if you do something over and over, you finally become desensitized to it. When you speak repeatedly in front of others, you eventually lose your fears and misgivings.

He also took a Dale Carnegie course for 14 weeks. At each session, he was required to speak in front of his peers. Within six months, he had given so many long and short presentations to friendly groups of peers that most of his fear and anxiety about speaking was gone. In its place was a growing confidence in his ability to express himself to an audience.

At about this point in his growth and development, there was a small emergency at his engineering firm. One of the partners had been scheduled to give a presentation to the members of a client company. But the partner was ill and unable to make the meeting. The businessman’s boss asked him if he would prepare and present the company’s proposal instead. He accepted the assignment.

He prepared thoroughly throughout the evening and the following morning. He then went to the client’s office, made an excellent presentation for the firm’s services, and got the business. When he returned to the office, his boss told him that the president of the prospective client had called and thanked him for sending someone to give such an excellent presentation of the firm’s services.

Within a few weeks, he was being sent out regularly to call on the firm’s prospects and clients. He was promoted, and then promoted again. Soon he was a member of senior management and on his way to becoming a partner. He told me that his whole life changed by making a decision to become a good speaker and following up that decision with specific actions.

Becoming an excellent public speaker will help you in every part of your career. But there is an even more important reason to learn to speak well to an audience. Psychologists tell us that your level of self-esteem, or ‘‘how much you like yourself,’’ largely determines the quality of your inner and outer life.

The better and more persuasively you speak, the more you like yourself. The more you like yourself, the more optimistic and confident you are. The more you like yourself, the more positive and personable you are in your relationships with others. The more you like yourself, the healthier, happier, and more positive you become in everything you do.

When you learn to speak effectively, your self-image improves as well. Your self-image is your ‘‘inner mirror.’’ It’s the way you see yourself and think about yourself prior to and during any event. The more positive your self-image, the more competent your performance. The very act of visualizing yourself performing at your best prior to any event or activity will improve your performance.

We are all highly sensitive to the thoughts, feelings, and especially the respect of others. Somerset Maugham wrote, ‘‘Everything we do in life is to earn the respect of others, or at the very least, not to lose their respect.’’ So when you speak well, your audience likes and respects you more. As a result, you like and respect yourself more as well. When you get positive feedback from others as the result of speaking well, your self-image improves. You see yourself and think about yourself in a more positive way. You develop a sense of personal power. You walk, talk, and act with greater confidence.”-Page 1-6 “Speak to Win”by Brian Tracy

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