You used to be afraid of public speaking. You told me how your hands would shake, you would break out in a sweat and your voice would crack every time you had to talk to even 5 or more people.
But you wanted to get past that. You wanted to improve your public speaking because you know that high-level public speaking and presentation skills are your #1 requirement for selling yourself and your business.
You also recognized that the internet levels the playing field by giving millions of other small business owners like you access to the same information (if you know how to look).
But you realized that your success in life and in business lies in your capacity to develop yourself in all areas, so you decided to go for it!
So you overcame your public speaking fears and with trembling hands and wobbly feet, you delivered all of three presentations. The audience applauded, the volcano did not erupt and you’re alive.
I am so proud of you!
Lol! I really admire your enthusiasm…but hold on…it took me years of practice.
No, you do not improve your public speaking by practicing, practicing, practicing.
Yes...that is very important but if you practice hard and you have not honed your skills at least a bit, you may be practicing the wrong thing.
New speakers tend to think it’s by just writing and delivering X-amount of speeches that their speaking skills will improve, but not always.
As for learning to tell jokes in your speech…well, that’s another story.
But I do know the #1 quick, unusual way to improve your public speaking. I used it to improve my public speaking skills and I use it to improve other aspects of my life as well.
What is a the #1 way to quickly improve your public speaking?
Listen to me carefully - LISTENING is the best way I know to improve your public speaking skills.
If you know me well, (or when you get to know me well) you will know that I go to many different types of lectures, speeches, presentations, etc. This is not because my house leaks when it rains but rather to continuously hone my public speaking skills by listening to a wide variety of presentations.
Now that I’ve convinced you that listening is a quick and unusual way to improve your public speaking skills, let me guide you through the best way to approach the process.
1. If you can, go to public lectures
Go to several types, technical and non-technical. Go to those delivered by men and women as well. What you’re listening for is the “confidence” in the delivery. Does that make sense?
Listen to who speaks with authority and who rambles through their topic. Listening to these lectures also lets me know which speakers are deaf. I mean really, if they could hear themselves, they would not be delivering such nonsense in that intellectual tone of voice.
2. Download audio clips of speeches and stories and listen to them
Not video. You tend to be distracted by how good the man looks or if the woman is well-dressed, etc. (Well, I am anyway!)
Close your eyes and listen. What you’re listening for is if the speaker uses words so effectively that you can see what s/he is talking about in your mind. Does the voice create excitement? Can you hear the enthusiasm and does the vocal variety leave you wanting more? Did you hear the pregnant pause?
3. Listen up
No, not that “listen up.” What I mean is to listen to speakers who are better than you and true experts in the public speaking field.
Listen for how their voices and words set the scene. Make sure you listen to the expertise and ease with which they tell a story and deliver the punch line of a joke.
Listen for the sheer sensation of a good speech on the ear.
4. Listen down
Yes, that “listen down”. The one that is the opposite of the “listen up” above.
Listen to speakers who are not as good as you are. Use what you learn from listening up to mentally improve their speeches and to evaluate where you are along the public speaking continuum.
5. Listen to yourself
Record a five-minute version of yourself speaking. I remember the first time that I did that, the words were so familiar but neither me nor my darling dog recognized the voice.
Again, don’t do video. You may be distracted by the size of your nose or the shape of your teeth.
Listen for the tone and pitch of your voice. Is it nasal or too loud, high-pitched or barely audible? Do you speak too quickly or drag out the last word? Don’t think of adjusting the equipment, work on improving your voice.
6. Listen to feedback
But be careful. There are some “expert speakers” whose most important speaking occasion was chasing the neighbourhood stray dog from the yard.
You want to choose someone who has an understanding of the basics of public speaking, who is honest and can be trusted to tell you the truth even if it hurts your feelings.
Give them a list of specifics you want them to listen for as you speak and ask them to share whatever they noticed that you didn’t list.
There you have it, my #1 quick, unusual way to improve your public speaking – LISTENING.
Here again are the 6 ways you can apply listening to improve your public speaking skills:
1. Go to lectures, speeches, presentations, etc
2. Listen to AUDIO clips of speeches and stories
3. Listen up to speakers better than yourself
4. Listen down to speakers not as good as yourself
5. Record and Listen to yourself
6. Listen to feedback
They’re fast and easy and if you’re really serious and committed, you can do them all in one week.
Try them and let me know and watch this space for more great speaking tips.
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