Now…you want to improve your public speaking?
But you used to be afraid of public speaking.
I know because you told me how your hands would shake, how you would break out in a sweat and your voice would crack, every time you had to talk to even 5 people in the same room.
So 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.
Therefore, you overcame your public speaking fears. And with trembling hands and wobbly feet, you delivered all of 3 presentations in one week. The audiences applauded, the volcano did not erupt and you lived.
I am so proud of you!
Lol! I really admire your enthusiasm…but hold on…it took me years of practice to reach where I am.
But guess what…you do not improve your public speaking by only practicing, practicing, practicing.
Yes…practicing is very important but however hard you practice and you have not honed your skills at least a teeny bit, you may be practicing the wrong thing.
You see, new speakers tend to think it’s by just writing and delivering X-amount of speeches that their speaking skills will improve, but that’s not always the case.
As for believing that learning to tell jokes in your speeches means you’re ready for the speaking circuit…well, that’s another story.
But I do know the #1 quick, unusual way to improve your public speaking.
Even now, I still use it to improve my public speaking skills and I use it to improve other aspects of my life as well. So…
What is the #1 way to quickly improve your public speaking?
Listen to me carefully – LISTENING is the best way to improve your public speaking skills!
What! you don’t believe me?
Well, if you knew 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 I’m a ” public lecture junkie”. It really IS the best way I know how to continuously hone my public speaking skills.
Yep, when you listen to a wide variety of presentations, it does improve your speaking skills.
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 to you?
Listen for who speaks with authority and who rambles through their topic.
For example, listening to technical lectures sometimes make me wonder if some of the 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. Listen to audio clips of speeches and stories
With video, You tend to be distracted by how good the male speaker looks (well, I am anyway!) or if the female speaker is appropriately dressed, etc.
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” to improve your public speaking
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 for the expertise and ease with which they tell a story or deliver the punch line of a joke.
Listen for the sheer sensation of a good speech on the ear.
4. “Listen down” and improve your public speaking
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.
Then, use what you learn from listening up, to mentally improve their speeches and to evaluate where you are between the two of them.
That’s your improvement gap.
5. Listen to yourself speaking
Record a five-minute version of yourself speaking and listen to it several times.
Again, don’t do video.
You may be distracted by the size of your nose, the shape of your teeth or how greasy your face looks.
Don’t ask me how I know this…
I remember the first time that I recorded myself speaking. The words were so familiar but neither me nor my darling dog recognized the voice.
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 in a sentence?
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.
Convince them to honest with you.
When I was a practicing Toastmaster, the evaluation was the single most valuable part of my journey. I was fortunate to have excellent evaluators who were clear, honest and totally unafraid to fail a speech.
It was by listening and implementing their advice that I was able to progress along my journey at a rapid rate.
Are you ready to improve your public speaking?
There you have it, my #1 quick, unusual way to improve your public speaking – LISTENING.
In case you forget, 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 to improving your public speaking, you can do them all in one week.
Well, maybe 2 weeks…
But listen, don’t take my word for it. Try them. I would love nothing better than the next time I introduce a speaker, for it to be you!
To your improved public speaking skills…