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You Too Can Be A Public Speaker

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 public speaker.

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 it.

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 summer hockey.

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 information.

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 time.

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, Consultant
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Time Management

By Fran Watson

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say “hello”, “goodbye”, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!

Have you ever felt like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland? Rushing from one thing to the next with no time to rest or relax? If so, perhaps what you need is some time management.

The problem is, you can’t really manage “time”. You can’t take a few hours from the morning and put them in the evening, or take a few extra hours from the night and put them into the middle of the day. There are the same number of hours in the day for everyone, and they follow exactly the same pattern.

Each day you have 24 hours to utilize. This breaks down into 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. Each person gets the same amount. You can’t save them like vacation days. When they are over, the time is gone. Whether you spent your time wisely or foolishly, it doesn’t matter, you can’t get it back.

So, if you can’t manage “time”, what can you manage? You can manage yourself and how you spend your day by setting priorities for what you want to accomplish and then scheduling the activities into a day planner, a calendar, or a “to do” list. What you want to do is: Concentrate on results, not just on being busy.

You may know someone who seems to be able to accomplish 25 different things while you have difficulty completing 4 or 5. That person has probably learned the secret of priority management – how to make good use of their time. They may spend their Sundays preparing meals for the week so that they can have time for other activities during the week. They may give up television in order to take courses or garden. They may make their children’s activities a priority, but take work, knitting or reading with them for the “down” times at the rink, i.e. practices, dressing and undressing time. They may keep magazines or books with them to catch up on reading while waiting in the doctor’s offices or for other appointments. They may listen to tapes in their car while driving, either to learn something new, or to keep their mind on something while they drive so they won’t speed. It doesn’t take you any more time to accomplish tasks, and in fact it might take you a lot less time in the long run, since you won’t waste time on needless tasks.

Many people spend their days in a frenzy of activity, but achieve very little because they are not concentrating on the right things. Once you have set some priorities, it will be easier to decide how to spend your time. For example, if your priority is getting your bike on the road, spending 1½ hours on a Sunday afternoon working on the bike is a good use of your time. However, if your priority is keeping your spouse happy and she is waiting for you to help her in the garden, spending 1½ hours on your bike is not a good use of your time!

One of the first things you need to do is decide what is important to you and then you can schedule your days accordingly. By setting goals on a routine basis you decide what you want to achieve, and then move towards the achievement of these goals. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know what you have to concentrate on and you also know what is merely a distraction. Once you have decided on your goals, assign a priority to them from A to F or Z, then review the goals and re-prioritize until you are satisfied.

If you use a calendar, you may want to colour code it with red for very important. This will apply both to projects at work that are a priority and your personal priorities. You can schedule other events, i.e. leisure, in different colours so that it is easy to see what you want to do at any point in time. You will need to review your schedule on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. If you take some time at the beginning of each week to plan your activities for the week, you are less likely to forget important appointments or tasks.

Often you will have to plan your activities around other family members. It may help to colour code each of your family members as well. Then you will know where everyone is and you can decide if spending time attending their activities is a priority for you or not.

Daily “to do” lists are also very handy for keeping track of your activities. A “to do” list is a list of all the tasks that you need to carry out. It consolidates all the jobs that you have to do into one place and you can then prioritize these tasks into order of importance, allowing you to tackle the most important ones first.

While “to do” lists are very simple, they are also extremely powerful - both as a method of organizing yourself and as a way of reducing stress. Often problems may seem overwhelming, or you may have a seemingly huge number of demands on your time, leaving you feeling out of control and overburdened. The solution is often simple: write down the tasks that face you and break them down into manageable pieces. Do this until you have listed everything that you have to do. Then run through these jobs allocating priorities from A (very important) to F (unimportant), and rewrite the list in priority order. You will then have a precise plan that you can use to work through the problems you face and you will be able to tackle these in order of importance. This allows you to separate important jobs from the many time-consuming trivial ones. You might find it helpful to assign certain nights for specific activities.

One of the best questions to ask yourself on a regular basis is, “Is this the best use of my time at this moment?” If the answer is yes, keep on doing it. If the answer is no, then it’s time for a change.

This doesn’t mean that there is no time for unscheduled activities such as friends dropping over – it may mean a slight change in priorities for the day, or giving up some other free time during the week to accomplish your tasks, or simply moving them back a few days if necessary. The important thing is to set your priorities so that you will allow time for them. That way you will use your time more efficiently and you won’t have to be like the White Rabbit running around saying, “No time, No time”.

About the author:
Fran Watson is a freelance writer, a Toastmaster, a public speaker, a career counsellor, a poet and many other things, depending on the time of day and the day of the week.

Master Your Fears Click Here - Mastering Public Speaking

Stage Fright Strategies

By Tom Antion

---------------------------------------------------- Direct comments or questions about this article to: Tom Antion, Box 2630, Landover Hills, MD 20784. (301) 459-0738 Outside Maryland (800) 448-6280, Fax (301) 552-0225, Email

Stage Fright Strategies

Stage fright Is Good and Makes You Better Looking Too!

Before you learn how to deliver your lines, it is important to be ready to deliver your lines. Stage fright is a phenomenon that you must learn to control. Actually, stage fright isn't the most accurate term for the nervousness that occurs when considering a speaking engagement. In fact, most of the fear occurs before you step on-stage. Once you're up there, it usually goes away. Try to think of stage fright in a positive way. Fear is your friend. It makes your reflexes sharper. It heightens your energy, adds a sparkle to your eye, and color to your cheeks. When you are nervous about speaking you are more conscious of your posture and breathing. With all those good side effects you will actually look healthier and more physically attractive.

Many of the top performers in the world get stage fright so you are in good company. Stage fright may come and go or diminish, but it usually does not vanish permanently. You must concentrate on getting the feeling out in the open, into perspective and under control.

Remember Nobody ever died from stage fright. But, according to surveys, many people would rather die than give a speech. If that applies to you, try out some of the strategies in this section to help get yourself under control. Realize that you may never overcome stage fright, but you can learn to control it, and use it to your advantage.

Symptoms of Stage fright

* Dry mouth
* Tight throat.
* Sweaty hands.
* Cold hands.
* Shaky hands.
* Give me a hand (Oops, I couldn't resist).
* Nausea.
* Fast pulse.
* Shaky knees.
* Trembling lips.
* Any out-of-the-ordinary outward or inward feeling or manifestation of a feeling occurring before, or during, the beginning of a presentation (Wow! What a dry mouthful!).

Here are some easy to implement strategies for reducing your stage fright. Not everyone reacts the same and there is no universal fix. Don't try to use all these fixes at once. Pick out items from this list and try them out until you find the right combination for you.

Visualization strategies that can be used anytime

* Concentrate on how good you are.
* Pretend you are just chatting with a group of friends.
* Close your eyes and imagine the audience listening, laughing, and applauding.
* Remember happy moments from your past.
* Think about your love for and desire to help the audience.
* Picture the audience in their underwear.

Strategies in advance of program

* Be extremely well prepared.
* Join or start a Toastmasters club for extra practice
* Get individual or group presentation skills coaching.
* Listen to music.
* Read a poem.
* Anticipate hard and easy questions.
* Organize.
* Absolutely memorize your opening statement so you can recite it on autopilot if you have to.
* Practice, practice, practice. Especially practice bits so you can spit out a few minutes of your program no matter how nervous you are.
* Get in shape. I don't know why it helps stage fright, but it does.

Strategies just before the program

* Remember Stage fright usually goes away after you start. The tricky time is before you start.
* Be in the room at least an hour early if possible to triple check everything. You can also schmooze with participants arriving early.
* Notice and think about things around you.
* Concentrate on searching for current and immediate things that are happening at the event that you can mention during your talk (especially in the opening).
* Get into conversation with people near you. Be very intent on what they are saying.
* Yawn to relax your throat.
* Doodle.
* Draw sketches of a new car you would like to have.
* Look at your notes.
* Put pictures of your kids/grandkids, dog, etc., in your notes.
* Build a cushion of time in the day so you are not rushed but not too much time. You don't want to have extra time to worry.
* If your legs are trembling, lean on a table, sit down, or shift your legs.
* Take a quick walk.
* Take quick drinks of tepid water.
* Double check your A/V equipment.
* Don't drink alcohol or coffee or tea with caffeine.
* Concentrate on your ideas.
* Hide notes around the stage area so you know you have a backup if you happen to draw a blank.
* Concentrate on your audience.
* Listen to music.
* Read a poem.
* Do isometrics that tighten and release muscles.
* Shake hands and smile with attendees before the program.
* Say something to someone to make sure your voice is ready to go.
* Go somewhere private and warm up your voice, muscles, etc.
* Use eye contact.
* Go to a mirror and check out how you look.
* Breathe deeply, evenly, and slowly for several minutes.
* Don't eat if you don't want to and never take tranquilizers or other such drugs. You may think you will do better, but you will probably do worse and not know it.

Strategies when the program begins

* If legs are trembling, lean on lectern /table or shift legs or move.
* Try not to hold the microphone by hand in the first minute.
* Don't hold notes. The audience can see them shake. Use three-by-five cards instead.
* Take quick drinks of tepid water.
* Use eye contact. It will make you feel less isolated.
* Look at the friendliest faces in the audience.
* Joke about your nervousness. "What's the right wine to go with fingernails?"

Remember nervousness doesn't show one-tenth as much as it feels. Before each presentation make a short list of the items you think will make you feel better. Don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations. You never know which ones will work best until you try. Rewrite them on a separate sheet and keep the sheet with you at all times so you can refer to it quickly when the need arises.

Use these steps to control stage fright so it doesn't control you.

About the author:
Tom Antion, a veteran of over 2100 paid speaking engagements. In the modern day world of professional level speaking, you must pull out all stops to move the audience to action. When a pro is getting thousands of dollars to speak, no one is going to count ums and ahs, and they won't applaud if he/she stinks. You must keep their attention and move the audience to action. I promise you will learn the professional techniques to do just that as you are exposed to my "Wake 'em Up" speaking techniques.

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