The Life and Times of a Public Speaking Trainer Part 6

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The final year of university began and I decided to be more adventurous by getting involved in certain societies, with also a view to embellish my résumé.

One such society I joined was the university Maths and Statistics society. It had about 140 members and had some good events on which were attended by many people. It so happened that the then president of the society decided to step down.

I was keen to know who the next president would be and so I attended the election meeting. The outgoing president gave a leaving speech and asked people to come and put their nominations forward. No one came forward and only silence ensued.

I caught the president’s eye and then, out of the blue, he suggested I come forward and do a speech for why I should be the next president. I looked at him as if he was mad! There was no way I was going to do this…but to make matters worse, everyone present at the meeting started to encourage me as well.

I had no place to hide and so reluctantly edged forward.

I stood in front and spoke briefly. I had the anxiety and still didn’t want to be there but, when I finished, I didn’t feel it was a terrible speech. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad – that feeling of just not giving a terrible speech was amazing and to top it up I was elected as president, having faced stiff competition from zero people.

One of the lessons I learnt from the above episode is achieving on different levels really allows you to build confidence and belief in yourself – so my getting of a graduate role and also being elected president boosted my confidence levels to some extent. I always stress upon people to keep achieving on some level (even if it be baking an amazing cake!) to maintain higher confidence and belief levels. I believe confidence levels drop if you have gone through a significant period of time where you haven’t achieved.

Continuing on with looking at the key steps to undertake to remove the fear and anxiety of public speaking and to build your confidence levels, here are steps 2 and 3.

Step 2 – Take a random passage and record yourself reading that passage

Following on from step one, the idea of these steps is about getting used to seeing ourselves and getting more comfortable with our own being. Now, take a random passage of any length and record yourself reading it. Try not to put too much effort into it – all we are doing is continuing to get used to ourselves and our voice. Usually the last thing people want to do is hear themselves and so I do believe this is an important step to becoming an effective speaker.

Even if you become an effective speaker, it is worthwhile doing this step every now and then, especially before a big speech; it allows you to identify how you come across and any kind of improvement you can make.

Step 3 – Record yourself singing your favourite song or reciting your favourite recital

Not every person is Whitney Houston. Not every person is Tom Jones. Back to our objective – it’s all about understanding who you are and becoming comfortable with you and your voice. Singing properly is very hard to do and our objective here isn’t to become a singer – it’s about hearing every element and tone of your voice.

Singing has the added benefit that it strengthens your vocal chords and hence you have a greater control over your voice and are able to choose different volumes and tones at will.

Once you feel you are more comfortable with yourself, it is time to move on to the next step.

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