From The Mouths Of Babes…

Even experienced speakers can learn from newbies...
Even experienced speakers can learn from newbies…Even experienced speakers can learn from newbies…

As public speakers who have been doing this for awhile, it can be easy to get lost in the details. We spend our time trying to work more humor into our speeches as we create them, we carefully study our body language in order to determine what we’ll telling our audience, and we practice making eye contact with our audience all because we understand the importance of public speaking. However, could it be that one of the best ways to become better would be to watch a speaker who is just starting out…?

Say Hello To My Son

I was reminded just how hard it is to give a speech in public when my son was called on to deliver a 10 minute speech to his Boy Scout troop. Ten minutes you say, why that hardly seems like a real speech. Well guess what, when you have never given a speech to a group of your peers before, 10 minutes can start to look like an eternity.

One of the first things that I discovered was that my son had no idea how to go about creating a speech. He was going to be able to use PowerPoint during his presentation and so (no big surprise here) he was going to go sit down and start to bang out some slides. I stepped in and stopped him. We sat down and I had him write down questions about his topic that I could imagine his troop asking him. His Mom jumped in and when we were all done, we had a list of about 15 questions.

Equipped with his list of questions, now he went off to play with PowerPoint. No big surprise here: he eventually returned with a deck of 15 slides – one for each question. I then suggested that he practice his presentation and I got the push back that you would expect from a 13-year old. Since I was in charge he ended up running through his presentation four times – it got better each time he practiced.

What We Can Learn From Starting Speakers

As we all move forward in our speaking careers, it can be all too easy to forget just how hard this speaking stuff can be. That’s why it can be very important for us to occasionally spend time with speakers who are just starting out. As we watch them present, we are reminded of what makes a speech a good speech. Even though they are just starting, we can still learn from them.

As my son gave his PowerPoint presentation, he turned towards the slide and proceeded to read the slide to me word-for-word. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been working with speakers and have had to convince them to not do this very thing. What my son reminded me about was that doing this action is our natural tenancy. In order to become better we need to take the time and resist the urge.

While my son was delivering his speech he seemed to be dancing. His entire body would sway from side to side and his hands were going in and out of his pockets as his head rolled around allowing his gaze to drift from the audience to the ceiling and then back down again. As speakers we will occasionally catch ourselves doing one of these actions. It takes a starting speaker to remind us how distracting all of these actions are when they are all put together.

What All Of This Means For You

Every speaker wants to become better. We can spend a lot of time trying to work on the details of how we create and deliver our speeches in order to more fully realize the benefits of public speaking. However, sometimes it is important for us to take a step back and spend some time watching speakers who are just starting out. They can remind us what is really important.

My son is one of those speakers who is just starting out. While helping him prepare for a speech that he was going to give to his Boy Scout troop I was reminded about just how important some basic skills are. He talks to the screen when using PowerPoint and has several body language motions that can be very distracting.

The thing that we all have to realize about giving speeches in public is that it’s a skill. That means that the more that we work at it, the better we will all become. I’m working with my son and both he and I will be better speakers the next time that we give a speech. Now go out and find a beginning speaker to help out so that you become a better speaker also.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to learn from a speaker who is just starting out?

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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 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

When we give a speech we may not always be on a stage. However, we always have a space that has been given to us to use as our own during the speech. All too often we see speakers doing things that they should not be doing – pacing, circling, hanging out in one corner or another. A stage (or speaking area) is a fantastic tool for speakers that helps to boost the importance of public speaking, but how are we supposed to use it?