So, in the midst of discussion in one of the speech classes I teach, these lines tumbled out of my mouth.
Your goal is to get rid of the stuff that makes you a bad speaker.
Do the stuff you’re supposed to do – get rid of the stuff you’re not supposed to do.
Here’s what I mean. People who want to excel at speaking in front of others want to emulate the best speakers. That’s good… but some of those folks are just slightly more than human. They are really, really good. Trying to be as good as the very, very best can be a little intimidating.
This might be a little more workable of a starting point. Watch the bad speakers very closely. What is it that drives you, and the audience, crazy when you have to listen to them?
- they use distracting movements
- they have too many ums
- their voice is too monotone
- they mumble – you can’t understand them
- they don’t look their audience members in the eyes
The list could be longer…
In other words, they work against their own purposes by poor speaking habits.
Now, for the hard part. Video tape yourself giving a speech. Even a practice speech. What traits of a bad speaker are you practicing? Identify them, and then, start removing them, one-by-one.
Get rid of the bad stuff.
Add in the good stuff.
Get rid of the bad elements – any elements that would drive your audience crazy. Remove elements that are not working, or working against your goal…
Add in the good elements, elements that would help you succeed at engaging your audience; any element that would help you reach your goals.
That’s the path to improvement. In speaking – and in just about everything else.