If you’ve been speaking and presenting for many years, you may think people are tired of listening to you. You may even find public speaking to be routine.
But the seasoned speaker has eight secret advantages up her sleeve—bonuses even she may not recognize or think about. If you’re a seasoned speaker, here are some advantages you have over newcomers on the podium:
1. You know your strengths. If you can come up with a funny one-liner off-the-cuff or speak in precisely the amount of time allotted, you’ll know that after many turns at the lectern. And you’ll run with those strengths again and again. This creates a base of confidence you can work from.
2. You know your weak spots. Some beginner speakers have trouble identifying what they’re doing wrong, but seasoned speakers know their weak spots. Part of having experience means knowing precisely where you fall short and, ideally, committing to target those problems.
3. You can make a last-minute save. Your years of experience have prepped you well for the Hail Mary pass of public speaking: the request to fill in for another speaker at the last minute. Not only will organizers think of you, but you’ll be ready to say “Sure, no problem” when the call comes.
4. You have the flexibility of Gumby. If you have experience speaking under all sorts of circumstances, you can manage without your slides, with a different microphone setup, or under a tighter time pressure than originally booked. Practice and experience build such flexibility in speakers; you can stretch to accommodate many situations.
5. You can work the room. The more experience you have as a speaker, the more you know how to make the most of your interaction with the audience. If you’re presenting, you target the decision maker in the room. If you’re persuading a crowd, you do it with gusto and build excitement. If there’s a crowd after your talk, you’re generous in speaking with interested audience members.
6. You deserve an A+ for your Q&A skills. More experience usually makes for better answers during the extemporaneous portion of a presentation because a seasoned speaker is better prepared and less taken aback by questions. You know the importance of questions in persuading the audience, and are more likely to cut to the chase and speak your mind—audiences love that.
7. You’re savvy. You don’t fall for unprepared organizers or panel offers where you would be one of 15 speakers. Having experience means you’re better at evaluating speaking requests, and you can turn down an ill-fitting speech opportunity with no regrets.
8. You have a strong sense of self. This might be a seasoned speaker’s strongest advantage: You know who you are as a speaker, and aren’t afraid to share personal details or roll with odd or unusual situations. As a result, you’re better able to connect and appear credible and confident to your listeners.