Monday, December 27, 2010

Use the calendar to set your speaking resolutions for 2011

If you want to improve your public speaking or presentation skills next year, you've made a great choice: It's a professional development opportunity that many businesses are willing to invest in, and it can help you move farther, faster toward your goals. But if you're feeling like your list of improvements is way too long, try using the calendar to trim and focus you list. Here are four ways to take that 2011 calendar and use it as an organizing tool to improve your speaking:
  1. Take the whole year:  Want an in-depth effort that will push your public speaking forward?  Devote the year to it.  It will help if you write down where you think you are right now, and what you want to try. Then take that list of ambitions and spread them out across the months of 2011. You may be surprised at how much you can accomplish.  Read about two people who decided to devote a year to increasing and improving their speaking: British journalist Robert Crampton and university web expert Georgy Cohen. They're frank about where they started and have a lot to show for the effort.
  2. Do it by-the-speech with the fix-3 approach: Got your speaking gigs lined up already? Then mark in your calendar some time after each one to apply the fix-3 approach to improving your speaking. It's easy: After each speaking experience, based on what happened, make a list of 3 things that went well or that you want to do again, and 3 things you want to fix. Even if your lists are longer, just pick 3--then work on those for the next time. This is a great way for busy or seasoned speakers to build in calendar time devoted to continually improving your speaking skill.
  3. Back up before a big speech:  If you know you're facing a major speech in 2011--a commencement address, Congressional testimony, your first big formal speech, an important presentation--take the calendar and mark off time each week, starting 3 months before the event (or longer, if you can).  Schedule time early in that cycle to get some one-on-one time with a trainer or a good speaking workshop you can take with a small group. Then make sure you have your own practice sessions locked into the calendar twice a week--even a few hours a week will make a big difference.
  4. Take a quarter:  Last year, Stephanie Benoit went through our Step Up Your Speaking 15 weeks of coaching, right here on the blog.  You can follow along on any 15 weeks of your choosing--all the Step Up Your Speaking posts are here, in reverse chronological order--and stand by for the Step Up Your Speaking workbook, coming early in 2011 to help you follow the program on your own, whether you're a beginner or an experienced speaker.
Do you have a public speaking or presentation resolution for 2011? Share it here and keep us posted on your progress.

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