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  • Bruce Rule

Watch Good Speakers to Improve Your Own Public Speaking



When I say don’t compare yourself to other speakers I am not saying that you shouldn’t learn from watching others. While practicing is the best way to get better, watching good public speakers can help you improve as well.

 

Take an analytical approach when listening to a good public speaker. What specifically do you think the speaker is doing well? Moving around the stage? Raising and lowering her voice to avoid a monotonous tone? Watch her hand gestures — are they emphasizing what she is saying? Does she end with a bang? And when she is done, does she walk confidently off stage?

 

If you see something specific that the person does well, try to copy it the next time you speak. Incorporate it into your presentations as soon as possible. See if it feels right for you to do. If it does, adopt it as your own. If it doesn’t, drop it. There’s no reason to mimic something that is uncomfortable or not helpful. However, as I mentioned before, try anything new at least a few times before you make a decision. Lots of things that are uncomfortable the first time you try them become helpful with time.

 

When I first started public speaking, I had no idea what to do with my hands. Sometimes I just sort of flailed them out, sometime one or both hung limply at my side. Occasionally, for reasons I cannot explain, every now and then I would pat the outside of my left thigh. It was crazy.

 

To change that, I watched several good speakers and I chose two or three that I thought were very good with their hand gestures. I began to copy their moves, which felt pretty weird at first. If they swept their arm wide when making a point, I swept my arm wide when doing the same. Over time I dropped a number of gestures that didn’t feel right for me, and incorporated the rest into my presentations.

 

Another habit I adopted from watching good speakers: I don’t start speaking right away. Did you ever notice that there are people who will take the stage and then stay silent for a few seconds before speaking? It is a power move. It shows confidence. Staying silent draws in the audience and they can’t wait for the speaker to start.

 

Also, waiting for a moment or two ensures you are in position, facing the audience properly, when you begin speaking.

 

Now, whenever I stand up to speak, I pause for two or three seconds.

 

Try doing the same when you get up to speak. You will feel the difference.    



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