I joined Toastmasters many years ago for the sole purpose of socializing. I didn’t have any lofty goals or aspirations to become a speaker, a motivator, or a trainer. I knew many of the other members did have such goals, but not me. My job didn’t even require me to speak in public. I was a writer for an events’ website and a translator, so my verbal communication skills were irrelevant to my career success. I joined for the simple reason that I was back in Amman after studying abroad for four years and I just wanted to make friends. So that I did, but I also learned a lot about life and I actually did learn about communication and public speaking too. So it was one of those few situations in life that was a win-win. Here are just a few of things I learned.
1: We are always responsible for what we say. What many of us don’t realize is that we are representing ourselves every time we speak. So, if you get up there to give a speech or a presentation without preparing it first, you are saying more about yourself than you realize.
2: People remember your speeches and presentations more than you think they do. People still come up to me and say “you did the humorous speech about moms” although that was in 2012. So, choose your words wisely.
3: If you try too hard to seek fame and recognition, you will only seek annoyance and arrogance. The best type of recognition is the recognition you get for just being yourself. We do live in a world that promotes self-branding but there comes a point where self-branding becomes self boasting and there is a very fine line between the two. This also applies to public speaking, if you behave in a club, an area, or a division like a celebrity, people will start to get annoyed by you. No matter how much you have achieved whether in public speaking or life in general, you are a human being first and people generally like to bond with the down to earth person who can laugh at life and even him or herself at times.
4: This leads me to my next point, be yourself. On your social media channels communicate in the same way you would communicate in real life and the same applies in public speaking, your writing , and your blog if you have one. Do not try to follow the trends. Post things that you are truly interested in. When you speak do the same, the best speeches I heard were the ones with personal stories or the ones where the speaker’s passion for the subject transcend his or her words. However, one should always remember the fine line between passion and theatrics. This doesn’t mean you should pull out the juggling act, pull a rabbit out of hat, jump through hoops of fire, cry , or burst into song on stage. Unless your speech is about “A day in the circus” don’t do any of these things.
5: Have fun with your communication, don’t always take yourself too seriously. Do the occasional speech or presentation about the pointless topic or your hobby. I once did a speech about my cat who managed to fall off the roof of our house four times. People loved it and although I was a new member at the time, I won the humorous speech contest with it. I also did a funny speech about our family vacation, and I won with that too. So, although serious talks are good mix that up with funny talks as well. If your job involves representing a brand give that brand a fun voice. People respond better to fun.
6:Have your own signature communication style. While it is good to look at what others are doing don’t copy them. Just get inspired by them. Get a feel of what they are saying, but not more. Chances are that people looked at the same Ted Talks, same motivational speakers’ videos and same speeches by world champions you looked at. They will spot the attempt of you copying someone else instantly and that is when you will lose your audience’s respect. Have your own style in everything you do, whether it is your writing, your speeches, your presentations, or even your fashion sense. Master being yourself and then you will start influencing others.
7: Language and word choice are important. If you are not speaking or writing in your first language, get someone to check your content before you deliver it. Remember that you own everything you communicate, so you owe it to yourself to own something that is linguistically correct.
8: Finally, have fun with it. If you are not enjoying it then communication and public speaking are not for you. Don’t dwell on failures always see what you can learn from them. I had my share of failures. I forgot my speech completely in front of people once. I tried to do the whole ” I can speak without preparing ” act, and I even went overtime and got disqualified in contests, I got lost in the middle of a question, and I almost threw up from nerves before giving a speech, and the list goes on, but I learned from all these incidents and I still learn from new and more seasoned members of Toastmasters till now.
I went in as the shy introverted writer and translator who spent most of her time at home reading books, but now I am a more outgoing sociable person who also has a career in communications and who still loves to write and read books. Life has many hidden gifts, we just have to be brave enough to leap into the unknown.
I hope you find those tips useful. Let me know what you think.