Last month JCI London member Mirjam Kaerma attended our training workshop “The Essence of Public Speaking” . Having thoroughly enjoyed the workshop she has written a piece about her experience:
Toastmaster’s Essence of Public Speaking workshop, that was led by Gagan Singh, gave a lot great of insight and helpful tips on how to be a better public speaker. Overall, this workshop provided an interactive and fun way to get to know the right tools and learn some new skills. Here are my takeaways and highlights of the workshop.
One of the key learnings for me was the discovery of PREP framework. Throughout the workshop, we were given different topics and time limits to introduce our main point, and then explain the reasons as to why the point is true. After that, one starts to wrap up the mini-speech by reiterating the main point to make sure that people remember the message. When practising this framework, and listening to others using this formula, I realised that it helps me to formulate my thoughts better because it gave me a sensible structure. All this helped me to focus on content rather than worrying about the order of things to say. The beauty of this formula is that it can be used with any short-notice speeches or answering questions with conviction.
Furthermore, when questions are asked then it is important to know that one can always have several options (besides the fact of answering a question directly) such as taking a longer pause to be able to create a mental list of points to include in response, to say ‘’no’’ with providing a brief satisfactory reason, or to divert the question into a different topic and many more. The main point is that you cannot know everything and if someone asks a question then it doesn’t always mean that one must always answer. It is fine not to answer, just one should let his/her audience know the reasons why. Anyhow it is hard to be fully prepared when it comes to unannounced speeches or pitches. However, if one has time to prepare a speech or pitch then the best way to do it is to visualise it. This helps to be more prepared and thus, one can be a bit less nervous. Another thing that helps with the nerves is 7 x 7 x 7 breathing rule. One can do it just before getting on the stage (breath in for 7 sec, hold the breath for 7 sec, and then breath out of 7 seconds).
As you know by now, the message of one’s speech is important, but it is also essential to note that our body language plays a big part role in delivering a successful message. We were given several good tips on how to check and adjust our body language so that the speaker’s body language can support the pitch/speech visually and thus, showcase more confidence. We were thought to root down, meaning to plant our feet firmly on the ground with our shoulders relaxed and arms by the side. This not only gives a more confident look for the audience but also makes the speaker feel steadier. The body is the best visual and so why not to take the audience on a journey by also using hands to tell a story.
Now, we all like a personal touch as it makes us feel special and eye contact is something that can create this ‘’personal connection’’. The speech is for one’s audience, so one would need to look directly into their eyes making sure to periodically scan through the room one person at a time. This can make people feel like they are part of a story that is being told.
Last but not least, when delivering a speech or pitch one needs to make sure that he/she can be heard from the back of the room. One can better his/her story by using pitch, pace and volume. How could one make sure that his/her voice is heard also in the further corner of the room? Here is a great tip I learnt. Just pick a person from the audience who is the farthest corner of a room, instead of someone in a front row, then automatically one’s body starts to adjust itself to a more correct position that helps to clear open up the vocal cords to project voice a lot further.
Because I am a part of a start-up, more and more I find myself in situations where I need to tell impromptu speech or answer questions with conviction and there have been many times where my mind has just gone blank. However, this started to annoy me and ignorance will not help here; if my message is not clear and said with confidence then I will not be able to stand out and achieve great things.
This workshop was very practical, and I feel that learnt a lot. I liked how feedback was given continuously throughout the session. I learnt from my direct feedback as well as from the feedback that was given to other attendees.
What is the essence of public speaking? I think it is to know the right tools and practise. Time to step out of your comfort zone!
Thanks Mirjam. Public Speaking is one of our hallmarks here at JCI and with it being such a key component of many professions you can never quite get enough practice!
This post was written by Chantelle Nylander - Quartey