It’s no secret that some of the most famous executives got to where they are because they learned how to speak in public. This is one of the most vital skills any person can learn if they want to be on the fast track to success. In fact, in a recent book from TED, they clearly outlined how many of the presenters on their stage have sped up their success because of it. So how can you master this skill and use it to your advantage?
What Is Public Speaking?
Public speaking is any time you get up in front of an audience and deliver a speech. However, in today’s digital world, this can be via video on YouTube or Facebook just as much as it could be in front of a classroom or at a conference. Whether you are speaking to your classmates and teacher, or to 500 of your peers and colleagues, learning how to give a memorable presentation is truly an art form.
If you are truly committed to honing your skills as a public speaker, then we highly recommend you join our Toastmasters group. In it, you will learn these nine skills:
1. Public Speaking Skills
Rehearsing your speech is one of the hardest things to do for a lot of people. It is weird going over your own writing and even more awkward watching yourself in a mirror while you rehearse.
But there are some great things that you can do before your speech in order to be as prepared as possible so you can give a great speech when the time comes.
According to many great leaders who speak on stages, the best thing is to make sure your note cards or rehearsal material is easy to read and follow. It is really hard to give a speech from one giant run-on paragraph, as you can easily lose your place. I recommend breaking your speech up into one liners or “summary points” so that when you see your notes you can simply grab the information and go.
The next thing is to practice every part of the speech until you have it right. Sounds pretty basic right? Well not really, most people actually practice the entire speech all the way through instead of breaking it down into bite-size pieces of content.
For example, practice your introduction until you have it down completely. Then practice your first part of the speech after your introduction — depending on the length of your speech this could be 30 seconds or 5 minutes. Then, after you get that part, go back and do the introduction until the end of the first segment, complete that until you are comfortable then move on until you can do the whole speech through two times completely with a satisfactory result.
Then you will want to practice in front of the mirror. Stand in front of a full length mirror (if possible) and practice your speech, look down at your notes and be conscience of how long you are taking on each part, how long you can maintain eye contact and scan the audience, etc. Work on your hand placement and looking relaxed in the mirror.
2. Presentation Skills
Have you ever been called upon at the last minute to give a presentation or a talk on something you’ve been working on, or something for a new client? Well, Toastmasters can help you think on your feet and be well organized so that this will become easy for you. In fact, we also invite some of the best public speakers from major organizations such as Motivational Speakers who also provide mentoring and insights from leading professional speakers.
3. Communication Skills
There are many ways you can improve your communication skills. This involves more than just talking. It also involves shutting up. Communication is a two way conversation. Many people say, “I have no problem talking”, and those around them are well aware of that. These people may have a problem letting other people talk. How many times have you been at a meeting where the person is supposed to speak only for 5 minutes and 15 minutes later they are still at it? At Toastmasters you learn how to craft a speech within a specified time frame. However, if you want more one on one support, you may want to get a coach who can support you.
4. Listening Skills
Listening is a very important part of communication. It is important to listen well enough so that you really “hear” what the other person is saying. At our weekly meetings the Quizmaster tests the listening skills of the group by asking questions about things that went on during the meeting.
5. Leadership Skills
These skills are developed as members take on roles such as Toastmaster, Table Topics Master, Timer, Quizmaster, General Evaluator and others. Each person takes control of the lectern for their role.
6. Evaluation Techniques
It is important to learn how to correctly evaluate someone so that they learn about the things they need to improve while being recognized for the things that they already do well. If all they hear is criticism, they don’t feel very good about themselves. Toastmasters teaches the “sandwich technique” for evaluations. Come to a meeting and find out more.
7. Vocal Variety
Having a different range in your vocals helps keep your conversations lively and worth listening to. Have you ever listened to a boring lecture where the person just drones on and on with no variety or depth to their voice? It’s enough to put you to sleep. You will learn how to effectively use your voice for the highs and lows to keep people’s attention.
8. Effective Non-Verbal Communication
Your body often speaks louder than your actual words and people “read” what you are saying by the way you say it. You can learn how to use gestures and eye contact to keep the audience watching and listening.
9. Research Techniques
These skills are developed as you prepare for your roles. If you are providing the word of the week, you will research the word to find out where it came from and what it means. If you are giving the Toast, you may want to look up more information on the weekly theme. If you are giving an Educational Tip, you will want to research your topic and prepare.