How to become better as a speaker

In this episode of Professional Speaking I share some of the creative virtual speaking setups that I have been part of recently – including the latest as a “TV news cast” for Canon in South Africa – and make the point that speakers need to be involved in helping to create the most creative set up possible. Virtual gives great opportunities to create inspiring and interesting set ups. So go on and be creative!

Watch on YouTube and on LinkedIn.

Also: Do not miss the 5-hour long FREE online course on YouTube: Master the Keynote. (Totally free. All I ask is that you help spread the word for the course, if you find value in it, and that if you hear of anyone interested in booking a speaker on creativity you think of me 🙂

Become the best speaker you can be.

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“Watch yourself speak.” That is one of the most common advice out there for becoming a better speaker if you ask experienced speakers.

And it is probably the advice that beginner speakers ignore the most. They know they should be watching themselves speak. But they don’t.

But you should.

And not only film yourself once and watch it once.

But film yourself often. And watch yourself often.

After 25 years of speaking and more than 2000 speeches delivered, I still do.

But here is the “expert tip”: Watch the SAME speech over and over again.

Because every time you do you will see different aspects. (Just like watching a movie over and over again. Every time you rewatch a movie you notice new things.)

And when you have watched the same speech 10, 15, 20 times then you start to notice small subtle things that you do that you would never notice would you always insist on only watching each speech once or twice.

I have just spent last week re-watching a video of myself speak 4 more times. A speech that I have most likely already seen 50 times – at least.

And yet, every time I watched it this week I found new things to improve – or new things that I notice that I do well.

Because watching yourself speak is not ONLY about identifying things you could do better – which can be difficult for your ego. (And which is the reason that so many beginner speakers “cheat” on watching themselves – they are afraid to hurt that ego…)

But watching yourself over and over is also about identifying what you are doing WELL – and if you look at it that way it becomes easier to “convince yourself” to sit down and watch a speech of yourself speaking over and over again.

So now go and find that speech of yours and watch it again. And again. And again.

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“Have fun!”

That was the words I found myself saying to two of the other speakers of the conference I spoke at earlier this week. (The conference was LEAP – a great HR conference in Bucharest, Romania with enthusiastic 700+ attendees (www.LEAP.ro).)

I could, of course, have chosen anything to say to them, but I picked “Have fun”, and in this episode of Professional Speaking I want to share why I think that is the best advice to tell a speaker before going up on stage.

So why is that?

Enjoyment is contagious. (Now, in these COVID-19 times the term “contagious” is perhaps not immediately connected to “joy”(The Coronavirus is serious stuff), but “contagious” is still the best word I can think of. A person having fun at their job (be that a bus driver, a waiter or a speaker) will affect the mood of the people around that person.

Having fun makes you less nervous. And being less nervous makes you relaxed. A relaxed speaker creates a relaxed audience.

Having fun makes you less stuck up on yourself. And that means you focus less on yourself and the single best advice for being a great speaker is to focus more on the message and the audience than on yourself.

Having fun makes you improvise more. When you are having fun it’s easier to laugh at your own mistake, easier to see new things you could do in the spur of the moment, and makes you more creative. All things that make a speech better.

Audiences find it easier to connect with a speaker whom they can see is having fun. And connecting with an audience is so important.

I could go on. A speaker having fun will communicate a message better. And it is true for virtually all topics. Even the most serious ones. (Do a test at the next conference you attend. Rate all the speakers you hear during one day on who you thought was the best speaker of the day. And also rank who how fun you think they had on stage. I am pretty sure that you will see a very clear correlation.)

So, did I tell myself to “have fun” too? I did. Did it work? I think so. (Not only for me but also for the two speakers I gave the advice to.)

I personally especially remember one woman of the many people who came up to me after my speech at LEAP who said: “I loved your speech.” and then added: “You have a very special, positive aura around you.”

Those two sentences combined into one feedback to me is what triggered this post. They show a very clear relationship between a speaker having fun on stage and the audience enjoying the speech. Now, this might sound like almost native advice, but I am surprised about how often speakers go up on stage and their “joyometer” is turned way down.

So the next time you go up to deliver the speech – for 700 or for 70 people – tell yourself to “have fun” right before you go up on stage. Then smile a huge smile and walk up that stage.

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