Most people seem to think that good public speakers are born not made. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most good public speakers have undergone significant training in public speaking.
Even politicians – those great natural orators – have all undergone public speaking training. In the UK Margaret Thatcher was known to use speech coaches. In the US President Bush has consulted actors to help improve his speech delivery.
Whatever your level of public speaking you can improve with a little help from the professionals.
If you do a quick search on the internet for public speaking training you will get thousands of hits from sites promoting everything from self study e-books to 14 day residential courses. It is difficult to decide which is right for you.
Here are six things that you should look for when selecting the training or help that is right for you.
1. Principles of public speaking
Everyone has their own ideas of the basic principles of public speaking. As a minimum look for some mention of defining your goals, researching and deciding on your content, and understanding your audience and their needs.
2. Body language
Body language is at least as important as the actual words you use in your presentation. Some experts claim that the way in which your words are delivered – your posture, stance, gestures and animation – does more to convey your meaning than any words that you actually say.
Body language is a huge subject. A course on public speaking must cover the basic principles.
3. Use of words
Having said that body language is more important than the actual words it is a fact that without the words there is usually no message. Obviously, researching and creating the content of your speech are vitally important. How to create and craft your content are essential in any training.
If there is one key to success in public speaking it is “preparation, preparation, preparation". How to prepare is pretty simple. Learning how to do it well and quickly is a key skill. Some topics to look out for include questions such as:
Should you write and use scripts?
When should you use notes and how should you prepare them?
Can you rely on your memory alone?
Should you use audio visual aids?
Most public speaking training concentrates on telling you how to deliver. And this is probably the right emphasis. Just make sure that the principles of public speaking have been well covered so you know just what your delivery has to achieve.
Most physical courses well video your performance for you to review and critique. It’s a technique that has stood the test of time. If you put your faith in an e-course you should also look for mentor on whom you can practise your public speaking.
6. Conquering nerves
Show me someone who doesn’t feel some degree of nervousness before speaking in public and I will show you someone who doesn’t care about their performance. Nerves are natural and even help to improve our performance.
For many people there is little more stressful in life than the prospect of public speaking. I have known highly confident, articulate people be physically sick before speaking in public. Any course on public speaking is incomplete without some help and guidance on controlling or conquering nerves.
There are literally thousands of topics that could be covered in a course on public speaking. Depending on your own particular circumstances and needs the overall emphasis will change.
Ensure that the training you select covers these 6 fundamental pillars first. You will be surprised how much sub standard training it will help you filter out. You can then select the training that most closely m atches your needs from those that remain.