As speakers, you’d hope that we’d always be looking for ways to boost our speaking skills. However, it turns out that all too often this is not the case. The can be many reasons, but the end result is the same: we reach a given level in our speaking and then we just “hold” there. Not getting any worse, but at the same time not getting any better. Let’s take a look at what causes this and see how we can keep moving forward.
Why Do We Stall In Our Speaking Careers?
When we are first starting out as speakers, we understand that we’re not very good. We realize this because we are very attuned to the feedback that we’re getting from our audience – they are bored and restless when we are speaking.
Because we know that we’re not very good, we are open to change. We don’t want to have our audiences dread it when we approach the front of the room to give a talk. This means that we’re open to listening to what other people say about our speaking style. We also keep our eyes open and watch other speakers so that we can learn from them.
All of these different inputs cause something magical to happen: we become better speakers. It doesn’t happen overnight, but rather it happens little by little. All of a sudden we find that we’re actually pretty good speakers: we don’t fear standing in front of an audience and talking and the audience almost seems to be looking forward to listening to us talk.
However, this is when something bad can also start to happen: we plateau. Once we’ve reached this level of speaking, we can decide that we’re “good enough” and we stop. We stop listening to what our audience is trying to tell us and we stop listening to how others evaluate our speaking.
That’s why the world is filled with speakers who are just adequate. They’ve reached a level where they are “good enough” and then they stalled. If you can’t detect that you are in a rut and if you are not motivated to get yourself out of it, then that’s where you’ll spend the rest of your speaking days.
How To Leave Your Comfort Zone And Become A Better Speaker
So no matter if you are in a rut currently or if you fear that you may be starting to enter a rut, spending the rest of your days there does not have to be your fate. It turns out that there are a number of different things that you can do in order to pull yourself out of this situation:
- Change!: the biggest reason that we get stuck in ruts is because our speaking opportunities become too predictable. Change things up – offer to talk about a topic that you’ve not talked about before or change how you present the material that you’ve given over and over again. Different is good!
- Ask For Opinions: what helped you to become a better speaker back in the early days was that you were open to the comments offered by others. Invite someone whose opinion you respect to attend your next speech and provide you with feedback. When they do, take action based on what they tell you.
- Picture The Future: better than anyone else, you know what a better you as a speaker would look like. The first step in getting to there is to mentally picture yourself as that better speaker. Once you’ve done that, you can start to map out the steps that you need to take to get there.
- Baby Steps: Becoming a better speaker is what we all want to do. In order to make this happen, we need to ease ourselves into the future taking things one step at a time. We didn’t get to be the speakers that we are today overnight and it’s going to take mastering a sequence of steps to get to where we want to be.
What All Of This Means For You
Getting stuck in a rut is an easy thing to do. As speakers, those ruts can hold us back from becoming better speakers. The first thing that we need to do is to realize when we’ve gotten stuck in a rut and why. The next is to find a way to get out of it.
Getting out of a speaker’s rut is a tricky thing to do. The key is to shake things up: get used to change, get outside advice, and picture the future that you want.
Getting stuck in a rut can happen to any speaker. Getting out of that rut is the key to becoming a successful speaker. If you want to keep developing your speaking skills, then you need to do a “rut check” and then take action to get out if you are in one.
Question For You: What do you think the first thing that you should do if you find yourself in a speaker’s rut?
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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
You are a great speaker. It’s just that if you use humor incorrectly, that might screw everything up. We’ve all been told that humor is a powerful tool that can make a speech that much more enjoyable for our audiences. That makes us all want to use humor and to use it more. However, if you screw it up, you’ll have to stand around and watch your next speech go up in flames.