Every speaker wants the same thing – to become a better speaker. The challenge that we all have is that although we understand the importance of public speaking, often we don’t know what we need to change in order to become better. The secret to solving this problem is to take the time to see ourselves the way that our audience does.
How To Evaluate Your Next Speech
Imagine for a moment that you are a professional sports star. You are only going to remain a part of the game if you keep getting better and better. How are you going to go about doing that? Today’s modern athletes get better at what they do by taking the time to study how they did it last time. They identify where they need to improve, work on their skills, and then move their game up to the next level.
As public speakers, we need to be doing the same thing. You’ll never get better if you don’t take the time to study how your last speech went. You are at a fundamental disadvantage every time you give a speech – you can’t watch yourself while you are giving the speech. This means that you’re going to have to come up with a different plan.
The simplest way to evaluate your performance during a speech is to pause while you are delivering the speech and evaluate your audience’s reaction to the speech. Do they seem to be interested or are they “not with you”? Do this evaluation a few times throughout your speech in order to see if your audience is staying with you.
An even better way to get an evaluation of your next speech is to either videotape yourself or plant some evaluators in the audience. Either way you’ll get straight and honest feedback on how you did. Each time that you do this, you’ll get a little bit better and you’ll be able to improve your game the next time you give a speech.
Getting Off Autopilot
There was a diet that was popular a few years ago that was all about getting your body to be in “the zone”. The thinking is that once you got there, the extra pounds would just slide off of you. This might be a great way to lose weight, but it’s a lousy way to give a speech.
All too often speakers can develop patterns of giving a speech that will distract from the speech itself. These patterns can include such things as things that you do with your hands such as touching your hair or fixing your clothes while speaking. It may have something to do with the words that you say – some phrase that you repeat over and over again.
We do these things on autopilot and we are generally not aware that we’re doing them. In order to shut off our autopilot, we need to have someone watch our next speech and make notes about the things that we seem to be doing over and over again without being aware that we are doing them. After the speech is over, we need to have a talk with this person, learn from what they tell us, and then when we practice for our next speech we need to work to turn our personal autopilot off.
Every speaker reaches a certain point in their speaking path where they may start to think that they are “good enough”. This is when they believe that they are a better speaker than a lot of other people and they may find it hard to keep improving.
We need to understand that we always need to be working to become better. Yes, change in any form is difficult and uncomfortable. Change is not something that will happen overnight. In fact, it might not happen by the time that you are called on to give your next speech. The good news is that change does not have to happen all at once – it can happen little-by-little. Just as long as we are getting better every time that we give a speech, we will be making the progress that we need to be making.
It is by changing that we can find ways to better serve our audiences. The reason that we can screw up the courage to get up in front of that audience and deliver a speech in the first place is because we believe that by doing so we can, in some little way, change the world. In order to make this happen, we need to always be looking for ways to become better at giving powerful speeches.
What All Of This Means For You
The speaker that you were yesterday is not as good as the speaker that you are today. The speaker that you will be tomorrow will be better than the speaker that you are today. The key is to find out just exactly how to become better.
In order to improve our speaking abilities, we need to first find a way to evaluate our performance during our last speech. Next we need to identify and stop doing those actions that we do on autopilot during a speech. Finally, once we know how to become better, we need to commit ourselves to becoming better.
One of the benefits of public speaking is that it truly is possible to become a better speaker each and every speech that we give. However, this isn’t going to happen by magic. Instead, what need to occur is that we need to learn how to evaluate our last speaking performance and then we need to use what we’ve learned to become better. It’s possible, now get to it!
Question For You: What’s the best way to incorporate changes that you want to make into your next speech?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Does your next audience really want to hear your speech? I mean really, what are they going to be doing after you are done speaking? You know about the importance of public speaking, but do they? Would they rather just get to that next thing and skip your speech? For many speakers this can be the case (especially if they are speaking just before lunch is to be served). In order to fix this problem, you’re going to have to add some stories to your next speech and that means you’re going to have to discover the 3 secrets of doing that correctly.