As speakers we all start out the same: we get asked to give our first speech, we may be nervous but somehow we summon up the strength to get up there in front of everyone and actually give a speech! Now that that is over, we’d like to get better at this speech giving thing because we understand the importance of public speaking. What’s a speaker to do when we want to become a better speaker?
One of the things that it can be hard for speakers who are staring out to wrap their heads around is that the opportunity to practice giving speech can come in many different forms. Yes, we are all aware of the “stand in front of an audience and give a speech” type of speech; however, it turns out that there are a number of different forms that speeches can take and we need to be willing to keep our eyes open.
One such opportunity is the acceptance speech. We are always being rewarded for something that we’ve done. These may or may not be big formal affairs. However, each one of these opportunities provides you with yet another chance to practice your public speaking skills. You’ll first need to thank the people who are giving you the award, then you’ll need to thank the people who made this possible, and finally you’ll need to wrap thing up by telling everyone why this recognition is meaningful to you.
Toasts / Roasts
I’m sure that we’ve all been at dining events where all of a sudden somebody starts tapping on their water glass to get our attention. Once they’ve done this, they stand up and proceed to offer a toast to some important person who is at the event. You may not have seen this as what it is, a speaking opportunity, but you should.
Toasts and roasts are very similar in nature. They both call attention to a person who is present in the audience. They very much encourage the audience to join in the speech with you. A toast is a celebration of something that the person has done or accomplished while a roast is designed to be humorous at the expense of the person being discussed. Both types of speeches require you to do some research in advance on the person that you’ll be talking about.
With a little luck we all know what TED talks are. These are speeches that are limited to no more than 18 minutes; they are given without a lectern, and generally use few if any slides. The heart of a TED talk is your ability to tell a good story. The idea behind a TED talk is for you to give a speech that contains “ideas worth spreading”.
No, you probably are not going to get invited out to California to give a TED talk in front of all of the important and / or famous people who show up for these things; however, this does not mean that you can’t give a TED talk. First off, there is an offshoot of TED talks called TEDx which are locally produced and run versions of TED talks. They are not the original, but they are often quite good. If there is going to be one of these in your town, then you might want to sign up. Even if there is not, then the next time that you give a speech you might want to try to follow the rules for a TED talk just to find out if you could do it.
What All Of This Means For You
The good news about becoming a better speaker is that it is possible to do. What you are going to want to do is to give more speeches so that you can share the benefits of public speaking. However, it’s not just good enough to give more speeches, what you are also going to have to do is to mix up the variety of speeches that you give. It turns out that this is also possible to do.
The trick to getting a chance to practice your public speaking is to realize that speaking opportunities can take on a lot of different forms. One such form is the acceptance speech. We are always getting recognized for something and if we use this opportunity correctly, we can practice giving a speech. Next comes toasts and roasts. These speaking opportunities can be dynamic and may be thrust upon us. We need to make sure that we’ve done our homework so that we’ll be prepared. TED talks are also quite popular. We need to look for TEDx talks in our area or simply use TED techniques in our next speech.
Becoming a better speaker is something that takes time. We have to be willing to work at it. We never know when a speaking opportunity will show up and so we need to be ready to seize it when it does. Search out the different speaking opportunities that are available to you and then make the most of them!
Question For You: Can you think of a speaking opportunity that you should probably pass up if it is offered to you?
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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
I think that I’m on safe ground if I say that we’d all like to find a way to become a better public speaker. Every time that we take the stage there is that moment just before we start our speech where a thought runs through our head. It says, “it’s too late now, but we probably should have gotten more practice before we agreed to give this speech”. It turns out that right now is the time that you should be realizing the importance of public speaking and looking for ways to grow your speaking abilities. It turns out that by giving different types of speeches, you can become a better speaker.