Have you ever watched a speaker and said, "Wow, I wish I could speak like that"?
or "That person was just so wonderful. I could never do that." Well, I've got
some good news for you. You too can be a public speaker.
Public speaking is a
learned skill, so anyone can do it. You just need to follow some simple steps
and practice, practice, practice. If you know how to talk, you can become a
Becoming really good at public speaking requires some risk, but you have
been taking risks all your life. When you were a toddler, you risked falling
down when you took your first steps. You risk scraping your knees or falling
when you start roller blading. You risk falling off when you start bike riding.
You risk being rejected when you ask someone out on a date, and you risk getting
into an accident every time you drive your car.
If you gave up after your first fall, you'd still be crawling. If you
were afraid to fall off your bike, you'd still be riding with training wheels.
If you were afraid of getting into an accident, you'd never get behind the wheel
of a car. And guess what, you're still here - you've survived all of that.
You're risk takers!! You've proved that by coming to Toastmasters. The greatest
fear is that of public speaking and here you are - wanting to learn how to do
How many of you enjoy watching figure skating? Now, you wouldn't expect
to be a world class figure skater the minute you put on a pair of skates, would
you? No, you'd expect to have to practice for years before becoming that good.
Nor would you expect to make the NHL without years and years of winter and
How many of you enjoy watching racing? Would you expect to be another
Mario Andretti the minute you get behind the wheel? Now, I will admit that there
seem to be a few drivers out there who think they are Mario, but most people
would expect to have to practice for years before reaching his status.
Now, I think everyone here knows how to walk. When you think of walking
25 miles, it seems like a long distance, but it is actually only putting one
foot in front of the other a number of times and you know how to do that. It
just takes practice to go the distance. It's the same thing with public
speaking. It just takes putting one word after another.
The key to getting up in front of an audience is believing that you have
something to share with them that may make a difference in their lives - by
entertaining them, warning them, encouraging them, or giving them direction or
The great thing is - you all do have something to say that people would
be interested in hearing. Each of you has come through life in a different way.
You may have encountered difficult circumstances and survived. Your experience
could help someone else in the same situation.
If you remember jokes or enjoy telling stories to your friends, practice
a little more and soon you can be telling your jokes and stories to large
audiences. If you are really good at something, consider sharing the steps of
how you got there.
By following the steps outlined in the Toastmasters' manuals, and with
the encouragement of fellow Toastmasters, you can learn how to craft a speech
and how to deliver it. You can learn how to use props, how to modulate your
voice, and how to use words that your audience will understand.
You will often hear the words "stage time" used by Toastmasters. That is
the only way to get better. In order to be good at anything, you have to
practice. Winston Churchill overcame a speech impediment to become a master
orator. He had to practice for hours to deliver a speech.
You can get very discouraged if you expect to be as good as Zig Ziglar
right away. But if you listen to his story, you will find that it took a very
long time before he was able to do what he does so well.
The thing to remember is that the only person you need to compare
yourself to is you. You are working for your personal best, so when you are
preparing your speech and practicing, all you need to ask yourself is - is your
second speech better in some way than your first? Did you learn something new as
you prepared for your speech? Did you learn something from the evaluative
comments of others after you gave your speech? Then, that's all you need to do.
You can use what you've learned to make the next speech your best to date and
then use the same process for each speech you give. Just take one step at a
Remember, public speaking is a skill, so anyone can learn to do it. You
just need to be taught how and then practice, practice, practice. Then one day
someone may watch you and say, "Wow, I wish I could speak like that."
Fran Watson is a member of two Toastmasters Clubs and has been involved with Toastmasters since 2002. For more information on the Toastmasters organization, you can link here and look for a club near you.
©2004-2011 Fran has a Free Speaker's Ezine which will provide you with more tips about public speaking.
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