Most people say they “hate public speaking”, however I believe everyone can get over that with training! HOW a speaker manages and hides speech anxiety from the audience is the topic of this 7-part C.O.N.C.E.A.L. series.
We are on the final letter. It’s the LAST part of L and the LAST article in this series, yet the L stands for Learn.
Good speakers LEARN how to speak and become students of public speaking. You learn public speaking two ways:
- Study the how-to content. You will become better by both by educating yourself with the knowledge provided by experts
- By doing speaking. THE most important learning comes from doing public speaking. You cannot learn w/o trying your hand at applying that expert knowledge.
WHERE CAN YOU LEARN?
- Local colleges usually offer at least one public speaking credit class. If you are not interested in the college credit, I’ve had many students who audited (no grade). Each instructor’s approach, knowledge and experiences influences a class. It’s a great way to delve into both knowledge and get speaking opportunities. I’ve been teaching public speaking courses for decades. Each year I improved the class, learning from students what works and doesn’t. This is how I created the 7 -part C.O.N.C.E.A.L. and counterpart D.E.L.I.V.E.R.Y. content, finding students were able to quickly acquire the 7 and 8-part content fast.
- Dale Carnegie specializes in speaking training. Considered the public ‘founder’ of public speaking classes, Dale Carnegie wrote the classic “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, and in held classes on public speaking starting in 1932! You can find local classes at https://www.dalecarnegie.com/. There are many types of classes offered, from beginner to advanced and specialized courses (i.e., sales, leadership, etc.). Similar organizations offer private classes.
- Online training content/courses. As mentioned, you need to practice speaking as well as learn the expert content about speaking. I do not think you can take a public speaking course solely online as you have to practice the content by doing the speech in the public! Ironically, some are trying to teach it by video-taping and I believe that loses all the dynamics of audience interaction and real speech-giving. That said, you can learn the academic content online. In fact, I have a few video-taped content subjects you can obtain on my webpage, http://sageforward.com/online-training-portal/ including:
- C.O.N.C.E.A.L. SPEECH-FEAR NERVES
- STOP SAYING UM!
- ENTREPRENEUR PRESENTATION PITCH TIPS
- POWER (vs WEAK) POWERPOINT AND VISUAL AIDES
I suggest finding courses where you can interact and receive feedback about your questions verses consuming content only.
- TED Talks found on YouTube and similar presentations. TED Talks demonstrate a stage performance in a typical stage performance time. Most people no longer attend 2-hour lectures, but 15-30 minute performances. TED Talks show speakers performing persuasive and informative speech in 18 minutes or less, engage an audience, use large visual aides, and more.
- Reading books by authors like myself. Reading this article is a great step towards learning, but combine the education obtained in the 7 -part C.O.N.C.E.A.L. series with actual practice and you will begin to actually acquire the skill with the knowledge.
DOING PUBLIC SPEAKING is required!
While learning is a basic requirement, in speaking combining learning with implementation and practice will help transfer what you KNOW to what you DO!
You can’t skip DOING speaking in learning. As an instructor of public speaking, every term one of my college students will ask if they can pass the class by writing speeches yet not actually deliver a speech. Unfortunately knowledge about public speaking skill doesn’t translate to skill acquisition. Similarly, we take both a driver’s license test and an actual driving demonstration; you have to prove you can both understand the rules and demonstrate driving skill. Each of the 7 tip articles I’ve presented provides knowledge, yet that information alone won’t develop your skill. You learn the most by putting the knowledge into practice.
A good comparison is the process of learning any sport. For example, I love skiing. While I learned intellectually that I needed to bend my knees, lean my weight forward, and use the edges of my skis to carve into the snow, I learned that first on-paper. It’s another story to translate that knowledge on the slopes. It took time practicing skiing before I mastered applying that knowledge. Learning any sport demonstrates how challenging it is to successfully implement what you know you should do. Public speaking is acquired the same was as any sport. Yes I would like you to read and learn, but the instructional tips and suggestions will not transform you into a good speaker without practice.
GREAT PLACES TO GAIN PRACTICE. I recommend you avoid practicing for-real on-the-job but earn practice ahead of time.
There are many ways you can gain public speaking opportunities so you can safely practice including:
- Taking a class. Get up and perform in a practice-setting where others are also training. This helps you not have to do it for-real.
- Toastmasters, a world-wide organization that is focused on developing both speaking and leadership skills, offering a social-club environment to safely practice. To find a club near you, go to Toastmasters.com and put in your zip code or area. There are usually many existing clubs and you are not limited to attend just one. You can attend and join as many as you like. Clubs vary by size, personality, meeting dates and locations, and participation opportunities. They offer manuals you can complete and receive recognition (CTM, Advanced Toastmaster, DTM), and optional opportunities for advanced speaking education, competitions and events. A few clubs are closed groups, such as hosted by the employees at their business. There is a low-cost annual dues for both the national and local club, but the fees are very affordable. Toastmasters provides a priceless safe place to practice while receiving constructive feedback to help you develop.
- Volunteering as an organization leader often requires public group presentations. This cannot be overlooked as a great way to obtain public speaking opportunities; however, you may not receive focused speaking feedback like you can in the other listed approaches.
- At work, ask others to gather and listen to your practice-sessions so you can become proficient, gain feedback from your peers, and improve before taking the performance live to the client or real-setting.
I invite you to comment. Have you found additional ways to practice speaking or learn that could benefit readers?