speeches

Can a Book or Audio Program Make You a Better Speaker?

In my public speaking classes, one of the first things I teach is that you won’t improve your speaking skills unless you get up in front of an audience and speak. I was sharing this story recently at a networking event and a friend said to me “wait a second, don’t you sell CDs and books about speaking?” When I confirmed that I did, he asked then how do I expect anyone to buy them.

What I Fear About Speaking

I bet you never thought in a million years that I’d admit on this blog that there are things about public speaking that scare me. Well, there are. I’ve been in the speaking business for almost ten years now and while I’ve had my share of successes, I’ve also had a lot of non-successes (I’m trying to avoid referring to them as “complete failures“). Some of them were my fault while others could be blamed on other people, but these are mistakes that I’ll never forget – and that’s a good thing. You see, these are mistakes that I desperately do not want to repeat.

Three Ways to Amp Up Your Presentations

Let’s face it, speeches are a lot more fun to watch when the speaker is energized and engaging. Plus you also pay closer attention and learn more too. Chances are that if you’ve ever fallen asleep during a presentation, the presenter’s style had more to do with it than the content of the presentation. I’ve seen presenters take a dry topic such as software testing and make it entertaining. I’ve also seen presenters take an exciting topic like getting rich and bore the audience to sleep. And yes, I’ve been guilty of giving a less than enthusiastic talk and could feel the drain of energy in the room.

So how can you take your speech and make it more fun and interesting for the audience? Well, first you don’t want to overdo it. A lot of speakers, especially those whose speaking experience is primarily at Toastmasters clubs, tend to overdo it. They overuse gestures and body language, do goofy things to get the audience’s attention like shout or make them do silly exercises or they throw excess humor into their talks. The good news is that you don’t have to go through all that bother. Simply be excited about your talk and do what comes natural. Here are the three areas to focus on.

A Toastmasters Primer

Okay, so you want to learn about Toastmasters but feel overwhelmed with all the information out there. Well, here’s a cheat sheet to help you learn what you need to know about this member-run organization.


History:

Clubs:

  • Clubs are local chapters of Toastmasters. Each club elects officers, sets dues and decides on meeting times and locations.
  • You can belong to as many clubs as you’d like to join.

Transitioning From Toastmaster to Professional Speaker

I’ve had a number of people ask me lately about how to go from a Toastmaster to someone who makes money speaking. Many of these people want to speak on their area of expertise while others are looking to speak about speaking. Those in the former have it a little easier because the key there is to just continue to develop your expertise while you graduate as a speaker to different audiences. Those in the latter have a more challenging road ahead because speaking to a Toastmasters audience is significantly different than speaking to other audiences – a fact which is often overlooked when speaking about Toastmaster-related topics. So I’m going to focus on the latter group for this article, but the former will definitely get some benefit from this too.

How to Deal with Rude Audience Members

It’s unfortunate, but not all audience members treat speakers the way we’d like to be treated. People have a very short attention span and it shows. Instead of listening to the speaker like we were taught to in school, people are having side conversations or playing with their BlackBerrys in the middle of your talk.

This topic came up in my public speaking class last night and we had an interesting discussion about it. While many speakers think that this is caused because they are boring the audience, the truth of the matter is that some people are just rude and/or inconsiderate. I’ve seen this happen in a variety of situations and here are just a few examples:

10 Ways For Toastmasters to Take Their Speaking to the Next Level – Part 1

Last year, I did a presentation at a Toastmasters District Conference about how one can take their speaking to the next level. I’ve since been invited to give this talk to various Toastmasters Clubs (if you’d like me to speak at your club, please contact me) and I’ve learned that a lot of folks within Toastmasters are surprised at how many opportunities they have within the organization to push their limits as speakers.

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