Surely you’ve been told about the importance of being assertive many times in your life. Assertiveness is a basic communication skill. According to Psychology Today, “Assertiveness is a social skill that relies heavily on effective communication, while simultaneously respecting the thoughts and wishes of others.”
Challenging to master, assertiveness is crucial in the field of public speaking.
Assertive Communication Against Anxiety
Poor assertive communication skills increase stress levels. It will lead you into a state of anxiety and frustration that will certainly harm your speech.
One of the most explored topics in assertive communication is the ability to say ‘no’. ‘No’ is probably one of the hardest words to say, yet, deeply important. Not saying ‘no’, when you want or need to, will drastically increase your anxiety levels. This is even more obvious in public speaking.
While you’re before an audience, many unexpected situations may occur. You might, for example, be interrupted by a member of the audience. Sometimes, you need to finish what you’re saying to make your point. You must be able to say “let me just finish this…” or “I’ll answer you in a minute”.
This might sound a little scary, but it actually protects you. A hostile audience will take a step back when facing a speaker with assertive behavior. Being able to say “no” or “I do not agree” is crucial to earning others’ respect.
Working on an assertive speech
Assertive speech is the one that shows confidence in yourself, without belittling other people.
Communicate assertively is easier than you think. Like any other skill, it can be trained and improved. First of all, you need to keep eye contact and speak clearly and objectively, keeping a normal voice level. This is the kind of attitude that makes you earn the respect of your audience.
While talking to your audience is important to avoid any personal judgments about them or the subject itself. This is especially true if you do not agree or have different points of view. Stick to the facts to justify your opinion, exhibiting a relaxed and confident posture.
Avoid getting too emotional
Emotional intelligence is one of the most important factors in interpersonal relationships. Being able to deal with your emotions, without losing control is crucial for good communication.
When we let our feelings interfere, our message is changed by our emotional state. You communicate what you’re feeling, not the message that got you there. In public speaking, this is a terrible mistake. Remember: when you’re making a presentation, it’s not about you, it’s about your audience.
For improvement in this area, you must be open to both criticisms and compliments. This might sound odd, but for many people taking a compliment is as big of a problem as being criticized. They don’t know how to react to it.
Regarding criticism, it’s very easy to understand the problem: it hurts. You need to evaluate what is being said. Ignore or dismiss any exaggerated criticism that brings nothing new, other than offending and hurting you; but take notes on the constructive comments someone points out to you, even if that means admitting you were wrong.
Improved communication skills, more control over your emotions
Effective communication is fundamental to deliver a message properly. It will make it easier for you to reach the audience, and it’s a good ally against your fears. With the right type of communication, you’ll feel stronger and empowered.
Exhibiting assertive communication skills will also improve your personal image. You’ll look more professional, respectful and other people reactions to you will mostly be better. This will raise your confidence and self-esteem, helping you to reduce stress and control your fears, allowing you to give a better presentation.