I Dreaded Public Speaking!
For years, I dreaded public speaking. Like I mentioned in “Toastmasters and Public Speaking,” having a book to promote (Simple Meditation) is what finally convinced me to develop my skills. I joined Toastmasters and worked hard to get over my fears. Now, I’ve done countless Toastmasters speeches, worked my way up to area governor, held meditation workshops and been the guest speaker at a variety of events for different organizations.
Reasons to Improve Your Speaking Skills
Somewhere along the way, I really came to enjoy public speaking, and I’ve gotten quite a bit better too. If you follow some of the same steps that I have, you can improve your public speaking too, and you might even come to enjoy it.
There are some good reasons to improve your speaking skills. An obvious one is that it could help advance your career. Through public speaking, you can teach, persuade, sell, or entertain. For these same reasons, public speaking can help you promote a book, a business, or a cause that you believe in.
Speaking helps you connect with others, so it can be a path to new friendships. Improving and developing as a speaker also provides a great sense of accomplishment, especially because this requires facing and overcoming a fear so many people have.
Steps to Improve Your Public Speaking
The best way to get to be a great public speaker is to do lots of speeches. Don’t worry if your speeches aren’t perfect. No one’s speeches are. In the meantime, here are eight simple tips to improve your public speaking now:
1. Pick a topic you’re interested in. The closer to your heart the subject is, the easier it is to deliver a speech with enthusiasm and sincerity.
2. The best speech is a story with a message. If your topic doesn’t allow for delivering it as a story, at least try to incorporate a story or two into your talk.
3. Practice more than you think you need to. You will deliver your speech with more confidence. Instead of staring at your notes, you can work on connecting with your audience.
4. As the author of a book on meditation, I use a variety of visualization and meditation techniques. A great one for public speaking is to sit down, close your eyes and visualize yourself delivering your talk. See it going well, even see the audience applauding and congratulating you on your fine job.
5. Use a very brief grounding exercise, shortly before you do your speech. This gives you a way to release nervous energy and allows your body to feel more secure and connected.
6. When you get up to deliver your talk, don’t think about how you’re doing. That’s an almost surefire recipe for nervousness. Instead, focus on your audience and your message, as if you were talking to a small group of friends.
7. Don’t be afraid to use vocal variety and gestures. They’ll help keep your audience awake, and they’ll make your talk much more interesting.
8. I mentioned that the best speech is a story with a message. You can really bring a story to life if you add direct dialogue, acting out the roles.
You may have many opportunities to deliver speeches or presentation. There are the ones someone requires you to do and those that you volunteer for. By taking a few simple steps, you can enjoy these opportunities, instead of dreading them like so many people do. You can also learn to do a much better job of getting your message across.
My two final recommendations, for significantly improving your speaking, are to speak every chance you get, and consider join a Toastmasters club.
Below, you can find a talk I delivered as the guest speaker for Unity Church of Bellingham. There were a few distractions at first, but once I got past those, the talk went well.
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