Have you ever had the experience of hearing a speaker and come away from the experience thinking: “I would have said that this way”? Or perhaps you have read an article and thought: “I would have written that this way”?
If you have ever said that to yourself, you may have the makings of a public speaker, or, perhaps, a writer.
How can I say that? The truth is that speakers and writers all engage in a continual self narrative running in their heads. They see events and hear a story being told, if only in their heads.
The challenge comes in how to get that nascent narrative developed until it is a complete speech or article. This process is something that, once we understand how it is done, we can do regularly and, with practice, even easily.
There are some tricks you can use to develop your public speaking skills. As with any skills you learn, you have to practice them to actually improve at the skill. If your expectation is to be perfect as a speaker or a writer on your first effort, you’ll have some difficult experiences ahead of you.
Developing Your Skills as a Communicator
1. Identify your passion. Passion is that thing that excites or moves you in the core of your being. It doesn’t require extreme effort to get going to do it. It creates its own energy in you and doesn’t wear you out. Find your passion, and speaking about it or writing about it becomes all the easier.Confessions of a Public Speaker (English and English Edition)
2. Take copious notes. Notes don’t have to be logical, at least not initially. If you are writing on a broad theme, the more notes you develop early, even with an almost train of thought approach, you will find you have plenty when it gets time to hone your speech or your article.
3. Realize the duality of the development stage. Sound confusing? It isn’t. When you first start out as a public speaker, you will run to one of two extremes. You will either have far too little material for the time you have allotted, or you will have far more material than you have for the time allotted.
I once was preaching in English at a bi-lingual church in Taipei. Though I spoke Mandarin well enough to preach in it, this particular church used a translator from which every language was used for preaching in to the other.
Prior to me starting an elderly gentleman had been asked to give a 5 minute presentation about his experience in one of the men’s groups in the church.
He had not done much public speaking, and I knew I was not going to have much time to preach (normally there was about 25 minutes), when the old gentleman began telling about when he was 25 (he was about 80 at the time). He went for about 25 minutes!
So what is the lesson there? If you aren’t used to speaking in public, it can be very easy to have way too much to say and you go way past the amount of time you should be using. That is one side of the duality.
The other side of the duality of the development stage is having too little. In this instance, you understand your time, but despite what you think, you prepare far less than the time needed.
If you are blogging, it is very easy to have far more written down than most people will be willing to spend reading. You have to practice, and you have to edit.
4. Practice, practice, practice. It may sound silly, but if you do not have much experience in public speaking, your trusty video camera will be your best friend. Once you have developed your topic, get in front of the camera, and speak as if it was your actual speaking engagement.
Don’t stop. Don’t edit. Go all the way through it, and be sure to time it. When you have finished, have a look at the entire video. Did you finish too soon? Did you go too long? What about the content? Did you cover the topic thoroughly if not exhaustively? Did you leave your audience wanting to hear more, to know more, or, best of all, wanting to have you back?In The SpotLight, Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing
5. Look for opportunities to use your developing skills. There are organizations which not only allow you to speak publicly, they actually encourage it! Toastmasters is one such organization. There are others that have regular needs for public speakers. Identify them and you have a built in way to develop you skills in real life situaions.
6. Constantly develop material. Write down your insights or inspirations. Work at thinking narratively. Practice how you would say something you hear another speaker say (don’t plagiarize, but do “riff” off of the words of others).
This is not an exhaustive list. Just some things to start with as you seek to develop as a communicator. Look for future posts on this topic.Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach (7th Edition)
What about you? Do you enjoy speaking publicly? Or does it petrify you? What are you doing to improve?