Unless you're a gregarious extrovert, or a Leo, you've probably experienced nerves before speaking to a group or getting up in front of class. We can help. Here are 7 tips for improving your public speaking skills.
1. Join Toastmasters
There are 226,000 members in 11,500 Toastmasters clubs in 92 countries. That's a lot. There's likely one in your neck of the woods, even if you live in the woods.
The Toastmasters website explains that "most meetings are comprised of approximately 20 people who meet weekly for an hour or two. Participants practice and learn skills by filling a meeting role, ranging from giving a prepared speech or an impromptu one to serving as timer, evaluator or grammarian."
2. Take a Drama Class
In her article, Lights, Camera, Action: The Importance of Drama in the Curriculum, Lori O'Keefe mentions Meriah Rankin, a woman who found that drama class helped her to express herself. "I used to be terrified of getting up in front of class and speaking," Meriah said, "but now if I have to get up and talk I feel no nervousness at all."
3. Take a Modeling Class
Modeling takes a lot of confidence, which is why it's good training for public speaking. Check out the modeling schools in your city. This is what one woman, Leah, said about her training at John Casablancas Modeling and Career Centers: "I'm not embarrassed anymore getting up in front of other people! My grades are improving at school because I don't mind getting up in front of class and speaking. If it wasn't for my John Casablancas training, I would still be embarrassed to be in front of people."
4. Learn a Martial Art
The martial arts also teach confidence. In his ezine article, Martial Arts - 5 Ways To Build Your Self-Confidence, Robert Jones lists five factors that lead to confidence:
Every one of those factors is also important in public speaking.
5. Practice in Front of a Mirror
If time and money are issues, there's always the free mirror in your bathroom. Start with simply smiling at yourself. You'd be surprised by how hard that is for some people. Make eye contact with yourself. See? You're doing great.
6. Hire a Coach
If money is no issue at all, hire a coach. This seems like a luxury, but if the job you're after involves public speaking, or is on an executive level, personal coaching can be one of the smartest things you ever spent your money on. There are coaches in every city.
7. Be Yourself - The Simplest of All
If all you want to do is take a continuing ed. class at your local community center, but you’re afraid of speaking even there, remember these simple things:
- Be genuine. Simply be yourself. People almost always respond positively when someone is being genuine.
- Make eye contact. The people in your group are probably there for many of the same reasons you are. They can relate to you. Look at them.
- Smile. Laugh even. Try not to take yourself so seriously. Sometimes self-deprecation can be the easiest way out of an embarrassing situation.