Monday, July 27, 2009

The ABC's of Public Speaking - S is for Stage Time

S is for Stage Time

If you want to have better speaking skills you need to regularly be up in front of people giving speeches. There is nothing that will advance your abilities faster than delivering a high number of presentations. If you only present a few times a year it will take you much longer to see improvement compared to the person who speaks several times a month.

The higher the number of speeches you give, the more material you will have to review. Additionally you will find that with more experience you will become much more comfortable on the platform.

Professional stand-up comics call it "stage time". If you want to hone your skills and practice new techniques, there is no other way to do this that to be on stage. Comics spend a lot of time looking for comedy clubs that will give them even short amounts of time to test their material. They will drive for mile on any given night to get to venues where they can tell their jokes. (The leading magazine of stand-up comics is titled "Stage Time").

There are many organizations who are always looking for speakers who can deliver interesting information to their members. They do not usually have budgets to hire professional speakers, but need to provide informative programs. To do this they utilize people from the community to speak on a variety of topics. Business clubs such as Chambers of Commerce, Rotary, The Association of Corporate Growth and many others may be venues for professionals to speak. If you are not a business speaker, there are countless groups which are focused on other subjects who desire to find good speakers for their meetings..

In order to get invited to speak to these groups you need to develop a reputation for your presentation skills and position yourself as an expert on your topic. These organizations get many inquiries from people who want to speak, and they are wary of speakers who want to sell products or services from the stage. Many people belong to multiple groups, thus once they see you do a great job in one place, they will tell others about you.

Yes, it is a little bit of a "chicken and the egg" story. You need to be good to get speaking gigs, and you need speaking gigs to get good.

Tell people in your network that you are available to speak for local groups. Be certain to inform those people whom you know are active members in several organizations. Let them know your topic and that you are focused on providing useful information on your topic. Be sure they know that you are not just looking for a chance to deliver a commercial for your company from their stage.

Once you have talked to multiple organizations you will find it becomes easier to find other speaking opportunities.

The more you speak, the better speaker you will become. Seek out your own "stage time".

Have A Great Day


1 comment:

Beth Bridges said...

Hi Thom,

What a vital point. I will go almost anywhere and talk to almost any size group, just for the practice.

Here's an idea for someone who's looking for audiences:

Sales meetings.

I've spoken to the local New York Life, Principle Financial and several real estate offices.

They bring their sales staff in maybe once a week to hear the same ol' (in the sales reps minds) motivational or informational presentation from the branch manager. Just having a different face and voice to listen to will help wake them up. It might only be 10 or 20 people, but that's a big enough audience for getting started and getting the practice, but not so big that you terrify yourself.

Check with local real estate offices especially. They are all business people, so if you're business oriented, you'll fit in. If you are lifestyle-oriented, then present it as something to help support their lives with information to support their health, family, etc.

I've found it to be a great way to get better at speaking. And, the offices are plentiful. In a moderately sized city, you could probably speak once a week.

That's good practice!


(this came to mind because I'm speaking to the local London Properties office sales staff in the morning)