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Don’t Burn the Toast: A personal investment in public speaking

By on November 13, 2013

As a writer who makes a living by cobbling together words for various reasons and occasions – including  speeches – it behooves me to give advice about speechwriting. But I often do just that, in effect trying to talk people out of hiring me. I really believe, that – public figures and politicians aside – most of us would be just fine if we simply felt relaxed and spoke from the heart.

Easier said than done.

As any clammy-palmed individual knows, it’s not just about what’s in your head or in your notes. Delivery is key. It’s not strictly about elocution. Have you ever had butterflies, or worse, frozen at the podium, a board room table, or across the desk from a potential client?

It helps to have the strength of your convictions, be aware of non-verbal communication and maintain eye contact. Control fidgeting by holding a pen and pointing it for emphasis. Asking questions can be effective, but try to avoid an intonation that ends sentences in a question mark for no reason as it weakens your point.

Or, consider professional coaching.

There are multiple approaches available. Toastmasters International is well known in the field,  with approximately 292, 000 members across 122 countries using 14,350 clubs.

Toastmasters employs a “learn by doing” approach where members, rather than an instructor, evaluate and provide feedback on each other’s performance. This peer feedback is credited with much of their success. They attempt to provide an atmosphere free of pressure. There are assignments which you can complete at your own pace, as well as honing complementary skill sets, such as grammar, keeping track of time and conducting a meeting.

There are so many business situations which would be enhanced by strong communication skills. Acquiring a basic foundation for public speaking may be the best personal investment you ever make. For further information www.toastmasters.org

 

Marilyn Lazar.

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