“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”
George Jessel, a great comedian, also a former Toastmaster once said that, and he was right. It was exactly what my brain acted before I joined Toastmasters. I published some books in my home country, but I was profoundly bad at speaking; book promotions were always disasters. When someone asked a simple question, I became like fish out of the water — gasping for air, moving mouth without a voice, and smiling to show I wasn’t in need of immediate medical treatment. Creepy, yikes, indeed!
That was me before I found my speech strength in Toastmasters. I won some speech contests, took training whatever available/affordable; now speak professionally — even became a certified speaking coach. If I could do it, you can do it, too.
The secret was simple: practice with The Right Mindset and Effective Methods of Learning, and most importantly, you’ll need The Right Buddies. Let’s break down each of them.
1. What is The Right Mindset?
Yes, you can become a great public speaker because you are still reading this. It shows your determination – that’s what pushes you through the journey. Your determination is the right mindset; keep it in your heart no matter what happens (or whatever you are told). There are times you feel discouraged, your passion gets dimmed, dark clouds of doubt loom over you — but that’s when you need to remember why you wanted to become better speaker/presenter. Shouldn’t it worth the effort, march through the setbacks? I’m guessing your answer is yes, as I’ve been through many times.
When you feel like discouraged, please don’t push yourself to the edge. Instead, imagine if you are your best friend. Talk to you as your best friend would do, treat yourself as the same.
Often, we are hard on ourselves — it’s natural when we get frustrated, things didn’t go as we expected. But think this: is beating yourself really helping you, now? Your goal is to improve and grow; you’ve got a lot else to do. It’s a slippery slope to self-pity when you start blaming yourself (yes, I’ve been there. And that wasn’t pretty).
Remember you have the strength, that’s why you started this journey. At Buddies, we all experienced the “ditch” and know how hard it can hit you. We also know a warm encouragement, a gentle nudge can do a wonder; we support you with all our hearts. Embracing struggles can be the most significant catalyst to your own growth; you’ve got this & Buddies got your back.
2. Effective Methods of Learning
No, “simple” doesn’t mean easy, unfortunately. Prepare some work to do, but it’s well worth it. Let’s dig deeper for some methods.
Effective methods include: Know what makes a good speech, Learn some speech structures, Learn how to handle your anxiety. Then, practice speech delivery. Let’s tackle one by one:
Know what makes a good speech: Toastmasters International offers many manuals and paths. At Buddies, you can consult with club officers and experienced members how to set your goals. We also offer to mentor; when you get the right mentor, the growth is tremendous. Don’t worry, if you and your mentor don’t work well, you can always seek a different mentor.
Learn Speech Structures: Whatever the path you choose, knowing some types of speech structures will help. For example, when you need to speak off the cuff, this structure does wonder:
- Decide your answer, tell it in a few words “I believe/think/ that…”
- Provide 1-2 examples/reasons/data that supports your answer: “For example, I happened to know…”
- Conclude by repeating your point, “And that is why I believe/think that…”
More on: Speech Prep: Structure Sample:
This structure gives your listeners a sense of completion. It’s a mini version of the bookend method; making a full circle by starting with your main point and repeating the point at the end. Once you are familiar with the structure, you can concentrate on thinking about your answer/opinion/message. Tabletopics session at Buddies meeting is a perfect place to practice for speaking off the cuff.
How to handle your anxiety
I always do this and recommend to try: when you are nervous and shaky/jumpy before your speech, try not to calm yourself.
Yes, you read it right: most people say you need to calm down, but it’s actually a hard thing to do when your adrenalin is running full throttle. Instead, say to yourself, “I’m excited!” (you should be, you practiced hard!) and your mind will be pumped up, becoming “Yeah, I’ve got this!” mode. No, I’m not making this up, there is a study: Why saying ‘I am excited’ makes you perform better It was a lifesaver. Before that, I ran around the building/street because I was super jumpy! I wish I knew back then…
Practice speech delivery
Practice in front of a mirror (minimum), in front of your speech buddy (better), deliver your speech at a meeting, watch it from our recordings (the best).
The most effective way is to record your speech and watch it and learn what worked/didn’t. It’s hard to watch yourself, oh yes, I know, but you will gain SO much. I promise you. 2001 public speech World champion Darren LaCroix often says, “If you can’t watch your speech, what about your audience?” Ouch, but true. I must confess, though…
To be honest, it took me a couple of months just to watch myself. The first couple of times, I hit the reply button and had to leave the room or even went outside (what was I thinking? Beats me). Once I got used to, it sure propelled my speech improvement. Believe me, your recorded speech is a treasure box. You can learn so much from your own speech, what to emphasize, what to cut, what you are good at, what to improve, etc. At Buddies, we record each meeting so members can watch it; it’s an amazing cost-efficient practice method. Take advantage of it!
3. You Need Right Buddies
Yes, practicing speech is simple but No, it’s not easy. A great speech is not one-time use, it should be practiced and improved so you can connect with your audience deeper and better.
Once you create your signature speech with the message you want to spread, it becomes your lifetime asset. You can start speaking at your local groups, church, conferences, Shark Tank, Create Youtube, Online courses, and write a book about it, and on and on; the opportunities are countless.
Some of the Buddies became successful life coaches, Youtubers, succeeded at his scholarship interview, gave a presentation in front of Shark Tank (!), won a speech contest, got a book proposal, and the great news keeps coming in.
Did they achieve it at ease? No. I know their struggles, and they overcome with the tenacity, also got support throughout their journey. To find and express your authentic voice, you might need to deliver multiple speeches and multiple times to refine them. Yes, you are right, it takes time. Who is patient enough to take the journey with you? My answer is, well, I guess you know it already, and you are right: Buddies Online Toastmasters. Buddies is an international family, a rare combination of professionalism and friendliness. We encourage each other, celebrate together, and we are unstoppable to get better. The only boundary can be your time zone: Check out the local time converter; visit a meeting as a guest.
Yes, you will be a great speaker:
1. Commit yourself to the goal of yours
2. Learn proven methods & practice
3. get your buddies and keep going!
Simple doesn’t mean easy — we are here to support you.
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