Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Are You a Public Speaker?

Do you consider yourself a public speaker?

Most people don’t, but I have learned through Toastmasters that everyone is a public speaker. It doesn’t matter whether you are speaking with one person or thousands of people.

We all think of getting up in front of a group and giving a speech, like I am right now, as public speaking. However, there are times every day you are a public speaker. Your ability to speak effectively can impact your life in areas including your health, wealth, and relationships.

Consider these examples:

  • You are very sick. Parts of your body hurt that you didn't know could hurt. You're at your doctor's office, sitting in the examination room. The doctor walks in and asks, "How are you?" You answer, "Fine." He asks, "What seems to be the problem?" You reply, "I don't feel good."

    The doctor has many patients he needs to help each day. He only has a few minutes to spend with you to find out what your symptoms are, diagnose what the cause is, and then determine how to medically treat you. If he has to spend most of his time trying to get you to tell him why you are in his office in the first place, his ability to treat you might diminish because of lack of time.

    Your ability to speak effectively can affect your health.
  • You successfully completed a major project at work. The result of your efforts increased the profits of the company substantially. You feel you should be compensated with a pay raise.

    You walk into your boss's office. He asks what he can do for you. With hands in your pockets, eyes staring at the floor, feet shifting back and forth, you say "I …um, ah… think I should …um… get a …ah… raise." You may or may not get the raise, but it certainly wouldn't be due to the way you asked your boss to consider it. In fact, you may have hurt your chances of getting that raise you deserve.

    Your ability to speak effectively can affect your wealth.
  • You are at home, reclining in your favorite chair and reading today's newspaper. Your spouse walks up to you, touches you on the shoulder and asks, "What would you like for dinner tonight?" Your response, without moving your eyes from the newspaper, is "I love you." Can you think of anything that would start a fight faster?

    Your ability to speak effectively can affect your relationships.

To be effective means more than knowing what words you are going to say. Some studies have shown that the words you use only account for about 7% of what you actually communicate. Other aspects include vocal tone, facial expression, body gestures, eye contact, your appearance and how your talk is organized and focused.

Now, I am going to have each one of you come up here and do a short talk… Not really, but did your heart start racing when I said that?

There is a technique that I learned from Toastmasters that helps me relax before I give a talk. Do this with me.

  1. Sit comfortably with your back straight
  2. Breathe in slowly
  3. Hold your breath for 4-5 seconds
  4. Slowly exhale

It is recommended that you repeat these steps about 10-20 times. However, without doing them for 10 times, didn’t it still help you to feel more relaxed? Toastmasters has provided me many tips like this one that has helped me to be more effective in my public speaking. It has also provided me the opportunity to practice using those tips in a supportive environment.

I encourage you to pursue ways of improving your public speaking. Getting involved in Toastmasters is a great way to do that. It not only will improve your ability to make a speech in front of a group of people, but it will also have a positive impact on key areas of your life including your health, wealth, and relationships.

1 comment:

Joseph Ponnou said...

Very nice post..

Came to know of one of our newer TM members who joined the club saying "I am comfortable 1-to-1, but hardly comfortable even in small groups".

Recently he was spotted addressing a 100-strong crowd appealing for support for a flood relief program.

And this was just after his 2nd project and the encouragement that he got from fellow toastmasters.

Or perhaps he did take a few deep breaths just before his talk...

Keep up the good work with such tips.