Public Speaking is a Marathon, not a Sprint

Random Observation/Comment #497: Get better at being a communicator. It’ll help with almost everything.

worn in

Everyone wants a shortcut solution to everything, but real mastery and improvement takes time.  I always suggest taking the smaller steps towards becoming a better communicator and gaining confidence in public speaking by following these key ideas:

  1. Know your material. Speak about things you know and that’ll take away half your qualms
  2. Organize your speech. Make sure what you’re saying is easy to digest by breaking it up into chunks with key takeaway phrases. Summarize for them and spend time on this preparation.
  3. Notice good (and bad) techniques. When you see toastmaster speakers or watch TED talks, look for the common techniques public speakers use to seem more confident or reach out to people. Notice pauses in their speech and ways they’re speaking about things to connect with people. Hand gestures, posture, eye contact, voice inflections, etc – these are all just bits and pieces that come together to remove the distractions around communicating those key ideas. The better organized the speech, the more you will get drawn into the story and the message.
  4. Practice. Giving the speech is not the big practice – it’s prepping correctly for it. A speech seen is only 10% of the work. The 90% doing the prepping seriously is much more valuable. You’ll see your own weaknesses and practicing in front of your mirror, family/friends, or pets will make you notice those little things about your natural performance.
  5. Take on a Role. I feel contributing to the meetings by being a toastmaster, speech evaluator, or general evaluator in some ways combines impromptu speaking with practiced explanations. This leadership section helps others build the meeting and gives you a main role in actively supporting your peers.  If you’re just attending the meeting and shyly going up to speak for 1-2 minutes, then you’re not fully using the potential and advantages of Toastmasters.

Reach out to your mentor. Reach out to officers. Reach out to me. We can guide you, but you’re the one that has to hold yourself accountable.

~See Lemons Keep Pace