Think back to the best presenter you have witnessed. Was it powerful? He/she likely lit up the room and captivated the audience.
What was the secret to that presenter's success?
Luckily, a golden tongue and a gregarious, outgoing personality are not required to capture attention. Natural talent helps, but most eloquent and confident presenters shine on stage because they have put in the work needed to excel. Public speaking is a learned art.
So what does this learning process look like?
Join me down memory lane as I share my journey to becoming a public speaker.
As a kid, I had a fear of being fearful. Middle school arrived and I decided to overcome my fear of public speaking.
I spent the next 10 years taking advantage of jobs, roles, and academic opportunities that forced me to tackle this fear.
I voiced my opinions in class.
From grades 7-12, I was in student government, which forced me to speak regularly in front of my class and the school.
At church, I read the scripture readings.
I signed up for classes focusing on debate and public speaking.
I sought out jobs that required me to teach groups.
The process was hard and awkward at times. I have lost my train of thought, stuttered, been forced to power through a blaring fire alarm while presenting, spoken to practically empty rooms, and had my chia kombucha explode like a rocket onto the ceiling mid-presentation.
It was all worth it. I learned from my mistakes and the mishaps, and I emerged with an invaluable skill.
Also, eventually the unthinkable happened. Public speaking became enjoyable. Now a significant portion of my income is generated from that skill.
That doesn't mean I am done growing. I continue to critique recordings of my conference presentations and other talks. I strongly believe that whether you are a seasoned speaker or a newbie, it is important to invest time into tuning up your pipes. The world needs to here our message. Speak up!
So what can you do to improve? Let's start with one easy tip.
You need to speak to crowds as often as possible.
Initially workshops are a training ground for you. Therefore, don’t worry if it is not a paid gig. Those will come. Also, adopt the mentality that no venue or group is beneath you.
Here are some ideas to help you practice your presentation skills. Grace others with your gab by speaking here:
Local gyms/ yoga studios
Mom’s group get together
A healthy dinner party
A chiropractor, physical therapist, or acupuncture’s office
A nursing home
A day care
An elementary or high school class
Youth sports teams
Your local Chamber of Commerce
A Toast Masters Group
Local radio station
Local TV station
A health fair
Cross off the speaking opportunities listed above that you have done.
All practice helps no matter how glamorous or mundane the venue may seem. That conference gig may be just as valuable of a learning experience as the workshop you provide to 3 kids at a day care. Take advantage of all of the experiences. Practice makes perfect.
You do need to dedicate time to learning this art. Hone your craft by putting yourself out there, learning from your mistakes, getting speaking tips (click for info video) from others, and gaining confidence from your big and small public speaking successes. Once you master that (and hustle to get gigs), watch the invitations to teach workshops on the big league stages roll in. You've got this!
Did you like this post? I'd love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comment section.