How to Be A Better Public Speaker
Unless you are new to my blog you will know that I am a public speaker. In fact, I am now an Amazon best-selling author and award-winning public speaker and speaking coach. And I go all over the country and internationally speaking, and training others to speak.
But it wasn’t always that way.
I had done a bit of amateur dramatics at school and university and I had been a choir leader and led my choir in some prestigious venues. But that’s a bit different to public speaking, isn’t it? Because when you are in a play you are being someone else, and when you are leading a choir you are one voice among many.
The first time I had to speak in public was in my General Studies A Level at school where public speaking was one of the options. I was so scared. But they trained you. You wrote out your speech, and then you practised it. And then you got it down to little cue cards, and you practised it. And then you got it down to one word per paragraph, which triggered the rest of the paragraph.
On the day I got through it, heart beating super fast, voice a little croaky and hands shaking, but I got through it. My confidence grew – a little.
The next time I had to speak in front of an audience I wasn’t expecting much. It was summer 1984, I was President of the Lawns Residents Association – which was an unpaid role on a committee that looked after the Lawns – a site where about ¼ of the students at Hull University lived. We were holding our annual general meeting. It was my 2nd year as President and last year at Uni.
The previous year, we had 4 people turn up to the AGM, so this year we decided to hold it in the bar. We set up some chairs optimistically, on the dance floor and we sat at the far end away from the door and the main bar.
As I was making notes and thinking up some interesting opening statements, the bar was getting noisier and I was in my own thoughts until my deputy nudged me and said ‘Look how many people’. When I looked up there were about 200 students sitting and standing on the dance floor waiting for the AGM to start. As I looked up and stood up the room went quiet.
I should have been flattered by the show-up rate compared to the year before – we were making an impact. Students knew we existed and they cared enough to turn up.
But all I could think of was “S***. They are expecting me to say something profound / funny / entertaining”. I had nothing. So I just started talking. I told them the story of how this committee came to be, and what difference we had made in the time we were there – a second washing machine for each hall and security lighting. A 3 phase power supply for the Lawns Centre so we could play big bands just as well as the Union could.
I introduced them to each committee member and the work they had personally done (for free) organising events, running film screenings weekly, holding surgeries and meetings with the staff at the centre, negotiating cheap drinks nights and many other things.
The room was captivated and my team got a standing O, after.
After it was over I had no idea what I had said. Everyone said it was good but I couldn’t remember the actual words – and as a control freak that bothered me.
So when I left Uni and joined the world of work, and eventually become a manager – a role that involved speaking to my team, and eventually to all the teams, training and hosting big events – I went back to what I had been trained to do at school.
I wrote the speech. Then I learned the speech. Then I got it down to cue card with a word or two on each and I practised the speech.
I still got nervous. I still had a beating chest and shaking hands and a dry mouth. But one thing I have never lacked is courage. So, I got up and I did them anyway.
And that continued until I had been running my own business for some time. I had wanted to write a book – it was about my methodology from finding the culture match in the recruitment process. It was something I developed with a colleague and rolled out at Yellow Pages, and then took to Computer Futures where I was regional manager. And since starting my own business in 2001 I had run this training many times – internally and for networking groups and Chamber of Commerce events.
And then in 2012 I a free ticket for a ‘write your own book’ event. And so I went. And that worked. Have 4 books now. But at that event there was a guest speaker. He was on before lunch on the first day and I NEARLY didn’t stay to listen to him. You see he was talking about public speaking and I thought (by then) that I was quite good at that. I had travelled from Manchester that morning and was starving so I contemplated having an early and long lunch and coming back at two o’clock for more book writing stuff.
Something made me stay.
“Welcome to the stage ….Andy Harrington”. And from the minute he opened his mouth I thought ‘My God. He is incredible’. I sat there captivated as he did his 90-minute presentation – with O notes and NO cue cards. He sounded like he was just talking to me. And it made me think of something I hadn’t thought of for a long time. I thought of that night at University. The night of the AGM.
The difference between him and me was that I had done whatever I’d done that night by accident, without thought or planning. This guy was obviously doing this for a living and he was AMAZING. I needed to learn how to do that.
And so I joined up for his Public Speakers University and then I joined the Academy. Because what I learned at the University were 2 critical things.
Firstly, I realised that not only did you need fantastic presentation and storytelling skills – which Andy could teach you – but you also needed something to talk ABOUT. Now I had a successful recruitment business at this time. I was approaching a ½ million turnover. But I had little that differentiated me from the crowd. In fact – that wasn’t true – I had my methodology – but I wasn’t telling anyone about it. I learned how to rebuild my business around my own unique system.
Secondly, I realised I didn’t have a peer group to pull, push and cheer me on to better things.
But now I do.
One of the people I met at the Academy who is ow a close friend – and a client of my social media business – is Cheryl Chapman. And Cheryl – with Andy’s support – is now heading up free one day events for females who are or want to be public speakers.
It’s called Grace the Stage and the next event is at the Hilton MANCHESTER – this Sunday – the 14th April. And I will also be speaking at this event as I did at the very first one in January in London. I believe there are still tickets left so click this link to book on. It’s a 10am start as it’s Sunday! If you can’t make it there are other dates – but not in Manchester so far.
So Why Should You Come? Who Is This For?
Well, this is for you if you have never heard me speak before and might be interested to see if I am any good at it lol 😊
It is definitely for you if you have a fear of public speaking and want to get over that.
It is also for you if you want to be inspired and see what 2 northern birds, who never ever thought they would be ‘international speakers’, can do. And believe me, if WE can do it – YOU can do it too.
And it is for you if you don’t want to be international speakers speaking to thousands, but just want the confidence to speak up – in any situation – to find YOUR voice.
Maybe you need to ‘sell’ as a business owner or employee. Possibly you want to get in front of a camera on a Facebook live but hate how you look on camera. It could be that you have to speak to journalists or be interviewed on podcasts or the radio. Maybe you need to speak at PTA meetings or voluntary organisations. Perhaps you need to pitch to your board of directors. Whatever the reason you may need to be a better speaker – this event is for you.
There will be an opportunity to join us after the event but this is NOT a pitch fest. You WILL get an enormous amount of value. You will be entertained and looked after. You will be inspired. I promise you all of that and more.
Please come along – book now for you or for someone special in your life who would benefit from more confidence and skill in public speaking. It’s free – so what have you got to lose, except the fear of speaking in public?
And if you are reading this after the event and you want more info about other events or confidence coaching, then email me at email@example.com