Louis Bonaventura asked:
There’s much more to conversation and communication that anyone could ever realize. You can watch talk shows, listen to radio programs, visit (and participate in) clubs dedicated to public speaking, hold ordinary conversations, etc. Certain rules apply when it comes to interaction through words. It may sound tedious, I know, but even though it’s your mouth that’s doing the work, your brain works twice as hard to churn out the information. So what better way to start learning to be an effective communicator than to know the very person closest to you: yourself.
1. What you know: Education is all about learning the basics, but to be an effective speaker you have to practice what you’ve learned. My times as guest at every Toastmasters’ meeting I go to taught me that we all have our limitations. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to share what we know in an effective manner.
2. Listening: It’s just as important to ask questions. Sometimes listening to the sound of our own voice can teach us to be a little bit more confident with ourselves and to say the things we believe in with conviction. When in normal conversation, you should be listening more than talking, especially in a business situation. And don’t interrupt when somebody else is talking … that’s just plain rude! You have 2 ears and 1 mouth … use them proportionately!
3. Humility: We all make mistakes. Sometimes that throws us off track and then we tend to slur our words, stutter, or maybe mispronounce certain words even though we know what the word is and it’s definition. So in a group speaking setting, like Toastmasters, don’t be afraid to ask if you’re saying the right word properly. If they’re unsure about it then make a joke out of it, it’ll ease the tension and calm you down. I promise you, it’ll make everyone laugh and you can simply brush it off.
4. Eye Contact: When it comes to directing your attention to your audience with an eye-catching gaze, it’s important that you keep your focus when talking to a large group in a meeting or a gathering. If you feel comfortable talking with one person in the audience in particular then focus mainly on them, but scan the room as well occaisionally. This practice will make you less nervous. I get nervous every time I speak to a crowd, and I’ve done it plenty of times. As I get more into the presentation or conversation I notice that the nervousness goes away, I think you will too if you stay focused on the topic and pick a friendly face to look at, but don’t forget to scan the room too!
5. Kidding around: A little bit of humor can do wonders to lift the tension, or worse, boredom when making your speech. That way, you’ll get the attention of the majority of the crowd and they’ll feel that you’re just as approachable, and as human as they are. They will feel more comfortable and so will you.
6. Be like the rest of them: Interaction is all about mingling with other people. You’ll get a lot of ideas, possibly make good contacts, and find out through conversation what makes them tick. Don’t act like you’re better than everyone else. People don’t like that, and you just might not be!
7. Me, Myself, and I: Admit it, there are times you sing to yourself in the shower. I know I do! Listening to the sound of your own voice while you practice your speech in front of a mirror can help correct the stress areas of your pitch. And while you’re at it you can spruce up as well.
8. With a smile: A smile says it all, much like eye contact. There’s no point to frowning in a meeting or a gathering. You can express what you’re saying better when you smile. The audience will also feel more comfortable listening to you because, believe it or not, they can tell a lot about your personality just from the way you present yourself non-verbally.
9. A Role Model: Everyone should have a mentor. There must be at least one or two people in your life that you look up to, admire, and that you have listened to when they’re at a public gathering. Sure they read their lines, but taking a mental note of how they emphasize what they say can help you once you take center stage.
10. Preparation: Make the best out of preparation rather than just scribbling notes and being in a hurried panic. Some people like to write things down on index cards, while others resort to being a little more silly as they look at their notes written on the palm of their hand (not for clammy hands, please). Just be comfortable with what you know since you enjoy your work. After you’ve done the same presentation or speech multiple times you’ll get better at it and you won’t need notes. But you still need to be prepared. You must get into the mindset required to give your presentation so you don’t look like a dope standing up there. Somebody once asked Jim Rohn, “How do you do it? You give a 3 hour seminar and no notes?” … his answer? “Well I’ve done it a few thousand times!” Be prepared!
And that about wraps it up. These suggestions might seem rather amateurish and basic, but you wouldn’t believe the people who just disregard them or worse, don’t even think about them! I’ve learned to empower myself when it comes to public or private speaking. But still, it never hurts when you are around other people to listen to how they carry on conversations. Take mental notes on how they act, how they present themselves, and how they say certain things. The way you present yourself and how you prepare yourself are crucial!