Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to Improve Your Speaking Skills – Overnight! (Or can you?)

We would all like to improve our speaking skills. Why? So we can give a great presentation, impress our boss at work or break up with a boyfriend – smoothly. There is no doubt about it. Good speaking skills are an asset. But good speakers are made – not born. And most people don’t want to go through all the trouble in order to be a good speaker.

So the question is how can you improve your speaking skills overnight? The answer is – you can’t! Not really. There is no shortcut to developing one’s speaking skills. Just like get rich quick schemes won’t allow you to keep your wealth for long, quick fixes won’t do the trick. The road to becoming a great public speaker is a journey. And it is not the same for everyone. We all travel at our own pace.

They say that practice makes perfect. And that holds true when it comes to public speaking. The more you do it, the better you become. My own journey in improving my public speaking skills wasn’t easy. But it certainly was interesting. Toastmasters often pushed me to step outside my comfort zone. I learned how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. I learned how to make it work.

I did many things to hasten my improvement in speaking. And I did see a difference. Only, it didn’t happen overnight. I played an active role in club meetings, gave speeches, said yes to hosting gigs and joined speech contests. And when I was able to compete and win in the 2011 Evaluation contest I felt that it was all worth it. Of course I lost more often that I won but that didn’t matter to me. Because every contest that I joined helped me improve my speaking skills in some way.

Most people only see the victories. They look at champions and think, “He’s so lucky,” or “Oh, he must be born that way.” But I’m telling you, luck often has nothing to do with success. You create your own luck in this world. If you want to win in anything you have to be willing to work hard for it. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty and roll in the mud.

Now let me ask you, do you really want to be a good speaker? Do you want to be able to sway people with your reasoning and convince them with your logic? If so, then there is one sure-fire way to do so and that is to speak. Yes. It’s that simple. Just speak. Do it as often as you can. If someone asks you to host an event, say “yes”! If someone asks you to give a presentation, say “yes”!  If your VP for Education asks you to deliver a speech next meeting, say “yes”!  There is no better way to improve as a speaker than to do just that. Speak and improvement is inevitable. 

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