I hear people complain all the time about not having the opportunity to speak. That’s bollocks. In fact, I ask people all the time if they are public speakers and most of them sheepishly say no. This is also bollocks. Every time you open your mouth and utter your words in public, you are technically a public speaker.
An easy trick to speaking more is to say yes to every speaking opportunity.
The single most important factor to becoming a public speaker is to speak. Whether it’s offering your opinion in conversation, asking questions in a large group, or speaking at weekly Toastmasters meetings, you should take every chance you are given It is a lot easier than you might think to get over your fear of being a public speaker.
I’ve discovered that the more I fail on stage, the less likely I am to make those mistakes next time. Take every opportunity you have to be up on stage. If you’re in a group and have a chance to ask a question, ask it! If you’re in public and have a chance to offer your opinion, offer it!
Each time we speak, we’re able to hear ourselves and reflect on what we’ve said. Whether we spoke well or poorly, there’s always room for improvement. If you never say no to a speaking opportunity, you increase your chances of exposure to a variety of situations that will make you a stronger public speaker.
[Illustration by Ryan Foland]
Here are 9 ways to increase opportunities of public speaking:
Take on leadership roles:
Often we find ourselves in groups or committees at work, church or at our children’s schools. These groups typically need someone to present information. Offer to step up in those roles. Most of the time it is a very small crowd that you would be comfortable with. Over time, you will become a better speaker and presenter.
Give Your opinion:
When you are in groups take a stance and express what you think about a certain topic being discussed.
Ask a question related to the conversation. Many times you will find yourself in a conference or meeting. Ask questions to gain more clarity and/or information. This will help you practice posing questions while gaining you credibility amongst your peers.
Speak at Toastmasters. Find a local chapter at www.toastmasters.com. It is a friendly group that meets weekly to practice public speaking. They have an entire system created to help turn you into a better speaker. Let me rephrase that – they have a system that, when followed by you, will help accelerate your speaking skills.
Create Your Own Opportunity to be A Public Speaker:
Many times, local groups like to have someone to speak up when they meet. Reach out and suggest a topic to present them. Word of mouth in-between these kinds of groups will help you gain a following and will give you more chances to speak.
After reading a book or listening to a podcast, you should tell your friends or colleagues about which parts interested you the most. Repeating what experts have said to those who are unfamiliar with the information makes you seem like an expert, and gives you great practice at your presentation skills.
Have Speeches in Your Pocket:
You never know what might happen. You may be at a conference or a panel where someone does not show up, or someone needs help to kill time before the next presenter. This is a perfect opportunity to jump in and show your expertise. If you have a speech ready to go, you can take advantage of the opportunity. Always have a few speeches prepared to give on specific topics you are highly familiar with.
Prepare a Pocket Joke:
Yes, have something funny to say, always. You should feel out the vibe of the crowd you are speaking to, but often there are times that a joke is a fun ice breaker. Or if you’re networking and someone tells a joke, you can be ready with one of your own to participate. It shocks me how many people don’t have a pocket joke. Find a few that you like and always be ready to tell them.
Tell More Stories:
When you are with others and they are telling a story, wait until they are done, then jump in and tell a relatable story of your own. Offer insights, advice or humor to connect with their other story. Listen and don’t forget to speak when appropriate. Great speakers are great storytellers. The more you practice at your stories, the better you will get at telling them. And storytelling is a skill that you will need as you develop your personal brand.
If you have more ideas to add to this list, I would love to hear as comments.
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