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.
There’s nothing worse to a presenter than a snoozing audience – we take it to mean that what we’re saying is uninformative, irrelevant or even worse, downright boring. But your speeches don’t have to be that way – you have a lot more control over how your audience perceives you than you may think.
- Consuming a big meal and/or alcohol
- Receiving bad news shortly before the presentation.
Last night when I was doing my cardio workout, I found myself getting tired towards the middle of it. Since it was my 12th day in a row of cardio, I started to wonder if it might be okay to do a 20 minute workout instead of a 40 minute workout. After all it was a Sunday night and I had had long day. But as I thought more about it, I decided that it was in my best interest to finish my workout.
As organizations grow and technology allows us to easily do business internationally, communication skills are becoming increasingly necessary to rise to the top. While interpersonal skills are still the most powerful way to climb the ladder of success, another skill is becoming increasingly desirable and provides a great opportunity to get ahead: public speaking.
When you rise up in any organization, the number of people underneath you in the org chart grows. You also find yourself more frequently giving presentations to executives, external clients, the board of directors and even the media. In this type of position, being scared to speak in front of a group of 100 people won’t cut it. You need to be able to confidently and competently communicate to both those above and below you on the org chart – otherwise, neither will take you seriously.
Nothing strikes fear into the heart of someone more than telling them they need to give a speech. Whether it’s a speech for work, a speech to promote their business or a speech where they’re volunteering their expertise, most people panic when they learn they’ll be facing an audience.
It’s no surprise that that this scares people — so much could go wrong. They could embarrass themselves, make a mistake, say the wrong thing, lose their train of thought or commit countless other blunders that they fear could result in not getting the sale, not getting the promotion or other failure.
Part of the reason that even experienced speakers feel a bit nervous before a speech is that there is a lot that must be done before you even walk on stage. If you don’t have a pre-speech checklist, here are some things for you to do before your speech in chronological order:
For shorter speeches (such as a Toastmasters speech or other speeches under 20 minutes), I recommend practicing the entire speech at least three times. For longer talks, practice it in pieces and practice the parts that you struggle with several times.
2: Check your facts:
Fears limit us more than anything else. They prevent us from meeting new people, strengthening relationships, moving ahead in our career and achieving financial abundance. While the internet and social media give us the opportunity to communicate with thousands (and potentially millions) of people without ever speaking a word, this path isn’t always the best one to go to reach your goals. This is especially true when trying to overcome communication fears.