Q & As About Public Speaking
Toastmasters Is Favorite Choice
"I would recommend Toastmasters wholeheartedly. I've been a member since February 2006. I have extensive public speaking experience, but Toastmasters has helped me quite a bit. Even if you are not called on to do public speaking, the training and confidence you get from the program are valuable. As REALTORS we communicate for a living. Any time you can improve your communication skills is a plus. Toastmasters is great for that. There are local chapters almost everywhere, and the cost is minimal." -- Neal Adler, GRI, e-PRO, ABR (Studio City, CA)
Let Your Heart Speak
"If you have knowledge and wisdom to impart, you don't have to worry about being a 'great speaker.' Those who seek to learn from you will do so at their own pace, and you don't have to be fearful because you are the giving, sharing person. I give presentations in front of as many as 2000+ people, and for some, that is a little scary. I remember my first time, I thought I would be sick, but then I got over it when I realized that they wanted to know what I had to say. That is profound and will get you over the fear thing. YOU have value!! Believe in that, because others do. "If you give from your heart with the pure desire to help others, you will do well at whatever you choose. It's that simple. Don't be afraid, look at it from the other perspective, there are agents out there who would LOVE to know your wisdom, they will seek you out, so don't be afraid to share it. You are better than you think!" -- Paula Bean (Orlando, FL)
Dale Carnegie Wins Kudos
"Can't go wrong with Dale Carnegie. Lots of new one-, two-, and three-day seminar offerings in addition to an old favorite "Effective Communications & Human Relations" (1 night/wk 12 wks). I took the course over 15 years ago and still use what I learned every day. Great support and feedback from others in the very positive and interactive environment. "Check out your local paper/business weekly for networking groups. Fabulous way to develop a 30-60 second "commercial" for your services and brief presentation 10-15 minutes. Having time limits is a great way to hone your communications skills and cut to the chase." "Don't forget the humor!" -- Martie Henry, ABR, e-PRO, RECS, REALTOR (Miami, FL)
Practice Is the Secret to Speaking Success
"Public speaking and presenting is a skill. Like any skill, you get better the more you practice. The better you know your subject, the more comfortable you will be speaking to a group about your subject."
"When I first began my speaking career, I would accept any speaking engagement, paid or not from Kiwanis lunches to dining room investment clubs. I also signed up to teach anything I could qualify to teach (always thinking in the back of my mind that an ancillary benefit might be a client or two I might generate). Some have mentioned Toastmasters, which is a good place to practice. I opted to teach real estate classes at a local real estate school and the community colleges in San Diego. Anthony Schools gave me the opportunity to practice my delivery for thousands and thousands of hours."
"Observe other speakers, their movements, gestures, positioning on the platform. What they say and from where they say it repetition, what and when? All very important in the development of your speaking skills. Recognize masters don't be aloof and think you are above learning.
"As your material begins to flow effortlessly from your lips, you can begin to concentrate on audience response, gesture, movement. Stage anchors and more as the challenge then is to deliver your message, and my theory was to make it entertaining as well as educational." -- Saul Klein, CEO of Real Estate Electronic Publishing Company, Home of RealTown (San Diego, CA)
Relax and Let the Stress Pass
"Based on 20 years of teaching at a major research university, coaching a couple of thousand students in oral presentations, and what I remember from faculty charm school a long, long time ago, here are my thoughts on stress and brain death. Everyone (who cares about his audience) experiences some stress response when taking the platform. I understand that the heart rate of one Johnny Carson went up to 120 when he took the stage for his monologue. What many folks do not realize is that this stress response is short lived. Within 90 to 120 seconds, you should be back to whatever level of stress you were at before taking the platform."
"My first piece of advice is to do what you need to do to get through the first two minutes. I am convinced from my observation of students and personal experience that the major cause of brain death on the platform is over-preparation. I have seen many nervous presenters try to memorize their presentation. Inevitably they forget a paragraph, sentence, or even a word, and the wheels come off the cart."
"Early in my teaching career, after patting myself on the back for delivering a world-class lecture, I would try to reproduce the lecture for another class. It never worked. I had one lecture where I wanted to make several points, and all of the points were quite interrelated. I would always digress from one point to another and never gave the darn lecture the same way twice. This bothered me, so I decided to make a great effort to stick to my outline for the lecture. The next time I gave this lecture I did not use my outline; I wrote my objectives on the chalkboard and checked off the objectives as I covered them."
"My advice on planning to avoid brain death is to think about what your audience needs to know and develop a straightforward outline or list of objectives. Rehearse your presentation but never try to duplicate your rehearsal on the platform. -- Fred Ward, Ann Arbor, MI
"Often I am asked how I broke into speaking. My answer is, ‘By doing it for free.’ As Saul says, ‘Practice, practice, practice!’ “I would get up at 4 am and drive three hours to present to the ‘Benevolent Society of One-Eyed German Shepherds’ for cold scrambled eggs, greasy potatoes, and not even expenses practice, practice. Then after two years and more than 60 presentations, I got a call, and I was in a pissy mood. So off the wall, I said, ‘I would have to have $300 to do that,’ and they said, ‘OK.’ And my brain went; ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!
Now for Pointers on How to Become Proficient
1) “Know your topic."
2) “Know your audience. I missed this one once with 340 CPA's - My topic was ‘Creativity.’ Well, that was painful!"
3) “Have an open. Comedy is the toughest open to doing and telling someone else's joke is NOT a good idea."
4) “Timing - not only how long but when - nothing like teaching marketing to an Assn. Of Independent Carpet Cleaners - after dinner and open bar. OUCH! I've spent 30 years learning about timing. I teach timing to other instructors, I've written on timing, I coach other speakers on timing, I practice it each time I go out, and yet, there are volumes to learn. Some of the best: Johnny Carson, Ellen DeGeneres, Charlie Rose, and Jack Benny."
5) “Use your third eye -- now that's a long email in itself, but bottom line, monitor yourself and others from outside of yourself."
10) “NEVER turn your back to the audience and read the visual!" In Hawaii this October, the room was set for 700 people, and it was packed. It was set up on my computer at the back of the room, stage left. I could barely see it, let alone pick up clues as to what it said. I elected to leave it as changing it would delay the already time-filled program. I, therefore, had to turn my back to the audience to see which slide was up. BAD FORM (but good critiques).
"So in New Orleans at NAR when I had the same unacceptable setup, I said, ‘STOP IT!’ and made AV change the setup." Well, they did, but, the two screens were fuzzy and glitchy! (Critiques were good and it was the number one selling CD. However, there were lots of comments on the poor visuals even though the audience was aware of the situation.)
"Lesson, when you have the choice of turning your back to the audience or glitchy screen, choose to turn your back.
11) “Repeat the question! This accomplishes three things: One; it gives the person asking the question the ability to correct it if you heard it wrong or they said it wrong. Two, it gives you time to formulate an answer. Three, and most important, it lets the audience hear what was asked!"
12) “Have FUN! If you don't, they won't.”
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