Have you given your first public speech yet? This could have been on the occasion of your cousin’s wedding, for a university project, a business presentation, an informal get-together with colleagues, etc. Whether standing behind the lectern for a formal speech with ‘all protocols observed’, or for a fun event, such as a party, these are all occasions for us to use our speaking skills!
Are these skills inborn or learnt? I believe that the answer could be both. Extroverts may ‘break the ice’ easier, compared to introverts. However, we can all learn the techniques, cultivate and practice them regularly. The decision to start learning, must first of all, be voluntary, and to keep practicing for continuous improvements. Taking constructive criticisms positively, in the form of feedback, is beneficial for improving yourself.
My learning experience has been mainly through my previous membership (year 2011 – 2014) with the organization Toastmasters International, for which practical physical meetings are run by local clubs, and which are present in many countries. I use my skills both personally and professionally.
Public speaking is not a one-off learning matter, rather we always build on skills learnt. While we can start at anytime, we keep learning forever! Techniques include; feeling comfortable and building self-confidence, organizing your speech, body language, vocal variety, doing proper research on your chosen topic, using props for visual aids and illustrations, skills to persuade, inspire, making your audience laugh, and more. Simple speeches are the best, as they are easily understood and often better remembered by everyone.
Practicing public speaking not only enhances our skills for giving speeches itself, but extends to other areas, having diverse and holistic benefits. For example after starting my own business, I realized that I could make use of my acquired skills for conducting more effective meetings, better networking at events, and in more ways, in addition to giving product presentations. I can also better understand my clients’ needs, through careful and attentive listening, which is also an important part in the communication process.
You may find that your learnt skills are beneficial during a job interview, making you more relaxed, apt at using conducive tone of voice, body language, and making proper eye contact when necessary. Once you’ve already faced an audience, showing your other talents are also ways to use some of your learnt skills. For example, if you’re a good singer, but hesitate out of shyness, then going to public speaking classes may help you to ‘get out of your shell’, get used to going on stage, and eventually sing in public, and of course, give lovely concerts as well!
If you haven’t given your first speech yet, then have I convinced you (through this blog post) to do so now? If you’re already a public speaker, then do you have anything to share? Please do so!