One thing I didn’t consider when I started writing was that one day I might have to speak about writing in front of folks. Thankfully, I’d already run the gambit on public speaking in business, so when it actually did happen, ‘it’ being someone asking me to speak at a writers’ conference, I didn’t turn into a complete toad. But that wasn’t always the case.
I used to be the biggest wallflower on the planet, very shy and quiet. (Yep, me—shy, quiet, and as gangly and scrawny as Gumby on an Atkins diet. Who’da thunk it?) What wound up pushing me away from that wall was the day I attended a Dale Carnegie sales program. The man giving the workshop was a dynamic speaker. He commanded a room, kept everyone’s attention, and created a lot of terrific interaction between people. I remember watching him and thinking, I want to be able to do that someday. Well, I’m of the opinion that someday will never come unless you take the first step towards making it happen. So, I found a local Toastmasters group, (which helps people learn to speak in public without all the umm-uhhs we tend to add before and/or after a sentence.) as well as a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking course. After I had those two experiences under my belt, then I just kind of stepped out there and made it happen. I became more vocal (can’t ya tell? J ) in meetings, offered to chair groups, and debated issues I believed in ad nauseam. Although nerve- racking at times, I wouldn’t trade the bumps and bumbles that came along with that experience for the world. It taught me to stand on my own two feet in many ways, and, truthfully, public speaking wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined it would be.
It’s possible that somewhere down the road to and around publication, you might find yourself in the same cart—having to speak before folks. If you do, here are a few magic beans that might help you get through the experience…
Bean One: (Probably the most effective bean when it comes to public speaking, in my opinion.) Talk about things you’re familiar with and passionate about. When you’re enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and passionate about something, it’s easy to excite and motivate other people. All you’re really doing is transferring what you feel.
Bean Two–Take the focus off yourself. Think about how the information you’re relaying to the group will help them, individually and collectively, then just share it with your heart, as you would with a close friend.
Bean Three: Practice. Rehearse what you’re going to say and allow for ad-libs until you’re comfortable with them and the subject matter.
Bean Four: Don’t sweat the nervousness and pre-speech jitters because most people have them. For years, national surveys have shown that most people fear public speaking even more than they fear death. I think they’re right because I used to be one of them!
Any other public speakers out there with beans to share?