Sunday, August 30, 2009

5 ways to renew your speaking skills

Need to get "back in the saddle" after a hiatus from public speaking? It's easy to feel uneasy if you are out of practice. Here are five steps you can take to make re-entry into speaking a smooth ride:
  1. Take small steps back to speaking: I recommend four stepping-stone speaker experiences to newbies, and they're a great way for the experienced, but out-of-practice, speaker to get her toe back in the water. Ask a question at a talk, chair a session, moderate a panel or be a panelist--these steps all stop short of shouldering all the responsibility for a full-length speech, but give you easy and visible ways to practice (and to show your willingness to speak.)
  2. Take the time to consider what you want to change: You may hesitate if you lack certain skills or feel you want to step up your game. Think about and write down what you want to change in your approach to speaking, then seek out group training or individual coaching focused on just those aspects of your talks.
  3. Watch or listen to some expert speakers online to get new ideas: Why not try something new? I recommend three websites where you can watch or listen to some of the world's best and most creative speakers and storytellers for inspiration and ideas.
  4. Be brief. Leave the audience wanting more and choose to re-start your speaking with a briefer-than-usual talk. Then take the time to analyze how you did and where expansion of your points makes sense.
  5. Get prepared. Work with a coach or speechwriter to develop a short, three-point message or a formal, prepared speech. Working from a text may help you feel more confident when you re-enter the speaking sphere.

Related posts: 4 stepping stones to get speaking practice

Learn storytelling online, 3 ways

Good speeches: Messages in threes