5 Tips That Will Dramatically Improve Your Public Speaking

Public Speaker

Those of us who have the opportunity speak publicly to business groups, professional seminars and in churches are always looking for ways to improve.  Here are five ways we can dramatically improve our abilities to become a more effective public speaker.

 

 

1. Learn How To Tell Stories

From the dawn of time humans have told stories.  Stories are extremely effective; and we public Speakingrespond to stories that are written or told orally.  Stories move us; they make the complicated simple.  The ability to tell a good story can be learned. The National Association of Storytellers suggest these steps to start your journey as a storyteller:

  • Be Brief – The best stories are told with descriptive language that covers a lot of ground with few words.
  • Develop Characters – Stories are best when they are told with and about people. Don’t forget the best stories are ones that include you.  Therefore, make yourself a character in your stories.
  • End on a High Note – Some stories are engaging. Others  are filled with action or horror; and some are hilarious. Whatever the direction of your story, always end on a high note.  Give your audience something to think and laugh about; leaving them feeling that the time they spent listening to you was worthwhile.

 2.  Make Your Body A Communication Tool

young modern ballet dancer posing on white backgroundCommunication is an entire body experience.  Effective communicators understand the following:

  • Don’t be afraid to use your hands
  • Move away from the podium
  • Use your voice to bring emotion, clarity and humor to your speaking

 

3, Watch And Learn From Other Speakers

MLK&MikesMake it a practice to listen to other speakers; both, great and not so great.  Take notes of things that you would like or not like to incorporate.

Regardless of what you find, remember that it is important to be you.  Sure, you may love Ronald Regan’s flair, or Martin Luther King’s oratory.  However, trying to mimic them when you speak will make you look like a bad version of the real thing. Therefore, use the stuff that you learn and weave it into your style.

Remember, no one can do you better than you.

4, Write, Practice, Rewrite

writingExpert speakers will tell you that their speaking improved dramatically when they started incorporating the principals of writing, practicing and rewriting:

  • Writing – Putting your thoughts down will make any speech better. Writing allows your speech to be clear and it will make it more concise.  Writing the speech does not mean that you have to deliver your talk by reading it word for word. Actually, writing your speech will give you the ability to go “off the cuff” and deliver the remarks you have written earlier without notes.
  • Practice – The Reverend Billy Graham one of the great speakers of our time said, “Great speeches are made with greater practice”. Here are some suggestions:
  • Practice alone or with others
  • Practice in front of a mirror
  • Practice by recording your voice
  • Practice with video

Your practice will give you the information for the next step:

  •  Rewriting – Any good speech gets better when it has been reviewed and rewritten. There is a real balance between the rewrite and overwriting.   Speech perfection is not possible; while we always want to do our best there is a time when you have to put away the pen and just do the speech.

5. Join Toastmasters

If you want to become a confident, strong, and effective speaker you must have a place to Toastmasters logoregularly practice your craft.  Toastmaster is a supportive learn-by-doing environment that allows you to achieve your goals at your own pace.  Toastmaster was the launching pad for my professional speaking career.  It can be the blastoff post for what you want to do with your speaking.  Go to http://www.Toastmasters.org to start or power-up your speaking journey.

Public Speakers: Some are born most are made

Mikes

 

Sure, you may have natural speaking ability.  However, great speakers know that there is always more to do and learn. I hope these 5 tips will help.  As all of us try to dramatically improve our speaking ability.

 

 

© 2015 Marben Bland

5 Ways to Power-Up Your Networking in 2013

Finding a job in today’s economy can be tough, but there are opportunities if you know where to look. And the best way to find these opportunities is not through online job boards, the classifieds, or employment agencies– they are found by networking.  A survey from the top end job search site ExecuNet reveals that 80% of all jobs are obtained via networking.

Hesitant Networkers

Unfortunately, many job seekers are hesitant to take advantage of networking because they’re afraid of being seen as pushy, annoying, or self-serving.  But networking isn’t about using other people or aggressively promoting yourself—it’s about building relationships. Tapping the hidden job market will take more planning and nerve than searching online, but it’s much more effective. Adopting a networking lifestyle—a lifestyle of connecting and helping others in good times and bad—will help you find the right job, make valuable connections in your chosen field, and stay focused and motivated during your job search.  Power-up your 2013 networking with these 5 tips from some of the best networkers I know.

Tip One: Figure out what you want before you start networking

Networking is most effective when you have specific employer targets and career goals. It’s hard to get leads with a generic “Let me know if you hear of anything” request. You may think that you’ll have better job luck if you leave yourself open to all the possibilities, but the reality is this “openness” creates a black hole that sucks all of the networking potential out of the connection.  A generic networking request for a job is worse than no request at all, because you can lose that networking contact and opportunity.  Asking for specific information, leads, or an interview is much more focused and easier for the networking source. If you’re having trouble focusing your job search, you can turn to close friends and family members for help, but avoid contacting more distant people in your network until you’ve set clear goals.

 Tip Two: Want to expand your network? —- Reach out to the people you already know

You may think that you don’t know anyone who can help you with your job search. But you know more people than you think, and there’s a very good chance that at least a few of these people know someone who can give you career advice or point you to a job opening. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Tip Three: Make a list of the people you know

Your network is bigger than you think it is. It includes all of your family members, friends, of neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances. Start writing down names and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the list grows. Think about people you know from former jobs, high school and college, church, your child’s school, the gym, social media, or your neighborhood. Also think about people you’ve met through your close connections: your sister’s co-worker; your best friend’s boss; your college roommate’s spouse; friends of your parents; your uncle’s business partner. Don’t forget to include people like your doctor, landlord, accountant, dry cleaner, or yoga instructor…..Yes, you do have a job network, and it’s more powerful than you think.

Tip Four: Reach out to your network

All the connections in the world won’t help you find a job if no one knows about your situation. Once you’ve drawn up your list, start making contact with the people in your network. Let them know that you’re looking for a job. Be specific about what kind of work you’re looking for and ask them if they have any information or know anyone in a relevant field. Don’t assume that certain people won’t be able to help. You may be surprised by who they know.

Tip Five: Improve your communication skills

Effective communication is a cornerstone of job networking. As simple as communication may seem, much of what we try to communicate—and others try to communicate to us—gets misunderstood. Effective communication combines a set of learned skills, such as: attentive listening, recognizing and using nonverbal cues, managing stress in the moment, and understanding your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with. Toastmasters is the best place I know of where you can both enhance your communication skills and build a network.  Go to www.Toastmasters.org to find a club near you.

The Bottom Line: Focus on building relationships

Networking is a give-and-take process that involves making connections, sharing information, and asking questions. It’s a way of relating to others, not a technique for getting a job or a favor. You don’t have to hand out your business cards on street corners, cold call everyone on your contact list, or work a room of strangers. All you have to do is reach out. It may take a while but having a networking mindset will pay off.   Good luck with your 2013 networking efforts.

 

Because There was “No” Room

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

We all know the story of Jesus’ birth as told in Luke 2:1-20.   The Roman emperor Augustus ordered all the people to be counted in a census.  As part of that count, all males had to return to their ancestral homes.  Joseph, a descendant of King David, traveled from his home in Nazareth to Bethlehem with his pregnant fiancée Mary in tow.  While in Bethlehem, the time for baby to be born came.  With the town teeming with people for the census, lodging was not available.  The only place Joseph could find for the birth was a manger “because there was no room at the inn.”

“The No’s” 

The word “No” is a constant in the lives of those seeking employment.  Think of the many times and many ways you have experienced “The “No’s” during you job search.

…”No – We don’t have a job for you.”

…”No – You are under qualified.”

…”No – You are over qualified.”

Relentless and persistent, “The No’s” can sap our strength, our confidence and our will during the job search.  Learning how to take “The No’s” with the confidence, grace and humility demonstrated by Mary and Joseph that day in Bethlehem can make all the difference in successfully weathering the “The No’s” in the job search storm.

3 Ways to Fight “The No”

Career expert Molly Cain, writing in Forbes Magazine, says that with the employment rate hovering around 7.5%, competition is at its highest right now, which means there can be lots of reasons you were told “No” about the job.  Molly recommends 3 things that we can do to fight “The No”.

1. Your Resume

Take a look at what you gave your prospective employer. If they’ve got any sort of head on their shoulders, they can typically read through lies, they can read through “elaboration” and they can read where you’ve panicked and tried to insert just about anything to lengthen the word count. Consider these resume “No No’s:”

  • Sticking your entire 20 year career on 1 page – Forget what your college career counselor told you – 2 or more pages is commonplace and is expected.
  • Failing to adequately explain breaks in employment – Due to the Great Recession, long breaks in employment is the new normal.  In my e-book the Smart Job Search, I show how savvy job seekers use the resume to highlight job productive things they have been doing while out of work.  List volunteering, freelancing, classes taken and other industrious stuff you have done while you have been unemployed.
  • Nonprofessional email address – An email address saluting your favorite Justin Bieber song is charming.  However, the email address on your resume should reflect the seriousness that you are bringing to the job search.   So while it is much more boring, use your name in your email address, such as: marbenbland@gmail.com.  It will be far more effective.

2. Your cover letter

Take a fresh look at the cover letter you sent.  Does it have typos?  Was it addressed “To whom it may concern?  Or, was it not captivating enough to get perspective employers to open the resume attachment?   I have an admission to make– I hate cover letters–they are filled with potential to bite you–but we have to do them.   Alison Doyle, the brilliant job search and employment expert, says that there are 3 general types of cover letters:

  • The application letter which responds to a known job opening
  • The prospecting letter which inquires about possible positions
  • The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job search

Go to Alison’s website: www.about.com/carrers for examples of the cover letters listed above. I did. and now I have taken the “No” factor out of writing cover letters.

3. Your Networking

Are you getting “No’s” when submitting resumes to online job postings?  Well, you are not alone.   With nearly over 1,000 job seekers for any one job, it is easier to win Powerball than to get a call back from an online posting.   Now, I’m not trying to dissuade you from posting for jobs online, however a survey from the top end job search site ExecuNet reveals that 80% of all jobs are obtained via networking.   The vast majority of job openings are never advertised; they’re filled by word of mouth. That’s why networking is the best way to find a job.  Unfortunately, many job seekers are hesitant to take advantage of networking because they’re afraid of being seen as pushy, annoying, or self-serving.  But networking isn’t about using other people or aggressively promoting yourself—it’s about building relationships. Tapping the hidden job market may take more planning and nerve than searching online, but it’s much more effective. Adopting a networking lifestyle—a lifestyle of connecting and helping others in good times and bad—will help you find the right job, make valuable connections in your chosen field, and stay focused and motivated during your job search.  Several of my best networking friends have given me these 3 tips to pass along:

  • Figure out what you want before you start networking – Networking is most effective when you have specific employer targets and career goals. It’s hard to get leads with a generic “Let me know if you hear of anything” request. Asking for specific information, leads, or an interview is much more focused and easier for the networking source.
  • Improve your communication skills – Effective communication is a cornerstone of job networking. As simple as communication may seem, much of what we try to communicate—and others try to communicate to us—gets misunderstood. Effective communication combines a set of learned skills, such as: attentive listening, recognizing and using nonverbal cues, managing stress in the moment, and understanding your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with. Toastmasters is the best place I know of where you can both enhance your communication skills and build a network.  Go to www.Toastmasters.org to find a club near year. 
  • Focus on building relationships – Networking is a give-and-take process that involves making connections, sharing information, and asking questions. It’s a way of relating to others, not a technique for getting a job or a favor. You don’t have to hand out your business cards on street corners, cold call everyone on your contact list, or work a room of strangers. All you have to do is reach out.

What are you saying “Yes” to?

Clearly as a job searcher we are going to hear the word “No”…. repeatedly. However, we have plenty to say “Yes” to and those “Yeses” can be parlayed into a job.  Your days of unemployment should not be idle time. There are only so many episodes of “The Price Is Right” or “Sports Center highlights” one can endure before your mind turns to mush.  This may sound strange, but your time of unemployment should be a joyous time, a time of personal growth, a time of rejuvenation, a time to get your groove back, or a time to discover a new groove, or a time to give your groove to others.

In my e-book The Smart Job Search, I profiled Leslie Ross, a truck driver by trade, but out of work due to the post-traumatic stress caused by an accident where a young mother was killed.  Leslie, who was not at fault for the accident, couldn’t drive any more.  However, she had a broad and impressive, almost encyclopedic, knowledge of topics that ranged from the Dalai Lama to the origins of Honky Tonk, gained from hours listening books on CD’s in the cab of her 18-wheeler. After a year of job searching “No’s”, Leslie said “Yes” to a volunteer gig at her local library reference desk.   In the weeks that followed, Leslie assisted a struggling author with an obscure factoid from a book that she heard on an early morning drive from Modesto to L.A.  She helped a young student with a term paper about molecular biology, a topic that Leslie happened to hear about one day while listening to the leading expert on the subject interviewed on a late-night, call-in show as she drove from Destin, Florida to High Point, North Carolina. And, she astonished an executive with her insightful knowledge about his company gained through years of overhearing conversations at the loading dock of his company’s main factory.

Saying “Yes” to the volunteering proved to be Leslie’s eureka moment. She didn’t need to volunteer for the library…. she needed to work for it. Leslie the trucker reinvented herself into Leslie the librarian.  She enrolled in the library science program at the University of Pittsburgh. There, she thrived in the environment of knowledge, discovery, and arcane facts, and in two years, this former trucker from Indiana became a librarian.  Today, you can find her in the streets of Indianapolis serving the city’s neighborhoods.  With her newfound confidence, Leslie, the librarian, has started driving big rigs again. Only this time, instead of the books being on CD’s, they lined the shelves of her new 16-wheeler — the city’s bookmobile.  Leslie, our hard-driving, trucking librarian, found her new gig through the magic of saying “Yes.”

You have experienced enough “No’s” in your job search…..what are you saying “Yes” to?

The Bottom Line – Jesus said “Yes” to us

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”

Luke 2:8-11 NLT

Jesus’s birth in a manger was “No” accident.  He was born in these humble circumstances to demonstrate to us that the word “No” should not deter us.  If the king of kings, our Lord and Savior was told “No”, what should being told “No” mean to us?  Instead, Jesus said “Yes” to us. He said “Yes” to our sins so we can live lives of significance, lives of dignity, ….and “Yes” lives of work in service to Him.

My gift to you in this joyous season is the hope you will be like Jesus and say “Yes” to not being defeated by the “No’s”

Merry Christmas