I speak publicly nearly every week. If you had asked me 20 years ago what I would be doing then public speaking would not have been on my list. But because I have been a minister of a church for most of my adult life this has required me to speak in public on a very regular basis.
Being and effective public speaker is essential for those who wish to be able to influence others positively. IT is a skill that can be learned but it requires hard work. Don’t be afraid of those people who seem to have a natural talent for public speaking for anyone to say anything worthwhile requires that they also have the character to match what they are saying. The world is full of shooting stars who are able to shoot their mouth off but if you are committed to this task and have the character to match you will be able to continue to say things that are valuable for a long time.
Â These are some of the things that have helped me in my Public Speaking:
- I believe in what I am talking about. Each week I am speaking about something that is one of my core motivators in life. It has been a privilege to have a platform where I can organize my thoughts and present them in a coherent framework. I don’t find public speaking to be a natural talent of mine and I find it quite exhausting. But, I do it week after week because I believe in what I am talking about. Find something that you are enthusiastic about and believe in and that will enable you to continue on even when you are not feeling all that successful about it.
- Join Toastmasters I did this at a very early stage in my public speaking career. It was a great training ground where we had to present impromptu and organized speeches and receive feedback. Toastmasters were also great for their social interaction and contacts that I made.
- Doing it over and over. After a while it gets easier to work out how words will flow, how one paragraph will flow into the next and all the other nuances of what creates a compelling speech. People have mentioned that in my normal conversation I can tend to be a bit disjointed but in my public speaking I am very fluent. The reason for this is because I have practiced my public speaking, over and over again. Before I have given any presentation I have usually done the whole thing in private at least twice, with all my hand gestures and positions on the stage as well.
- Build a repertoire of stories. Stories are the lifeblood of any public speaker. The best stories are the ones that relate to a personal experience it gives credibility to what you are saying. I recently listened to several presentations by a very accomplished public speaker but he lacked the personal touch. It’s a delicate balance between being seen as just talking about yourself and vulnerability but good public speakers have learned to achieve that balance consistently. Collect other stories, poems and quotes that connect to you personally. I usually don’t quote poetry because I don’t get it. I would feel like a fake if all of a sudden I started sprouting off with some profound sonnet speaking of some beautiful flower. It’s not me so I don’t do it. I do love stories about people and short parables and I have built and extensive repertoire of these for my talks.
- Get the audience involved. One of the things that I hate in public speakers is when they tell the audience to repeat something that they have said. That’s dumb and I hate being treated as a stupid follower. I like being involved but what to be able to respond to something that has hit home to me. Don’t use dumb contrived interaction gimmicks.