Sunday, February 27, 2011

To improve your public speaking skills, don't be an "actor," be a "sport" instead.

Here is some really good advice to pass along to students (or attorneys or even professors for that matter) who may be struggling to find their mojo when it comes to public speaking.  If workshops or advice with a thespian angle don't float your boat, try this approach instead courtesy of the Harvard Business Review:

[T]hink of practicing speaking skills as practicing a sport. 

With a sport, you're not pretending to be someone else. You are training your body and your mind to achieve feats of skill — building your muscle memory with drills and repetition.

Even leaders who prefer a couch to a tennis court tend to rise to the challenge of approaching things like Venus Williams or Roger Federer — step by step, practiced move by practiced move. So get it out of your head that you have to "perform," to be someone else, be fascinating, to hold their attention like a Johnny Depp or a Natalie Portman. To be a better public speaker, you just need to get out of your own way, so we can see you for who you really are. Glimpsing that authentic core can be riveting, and that's where the sport comes in.

To approach speaking as a sport, leaders need to be aware of their own potent skills. They need to know their bodies: their instruments, and how versatile, flexible and capable they are. They need to know how things work. Where does your voice come from? What can you accomplish with gesture and movement? And how do you organize the flow of information through your body so that it has maximum impact? What's the game plan of a particular meeting or presentation, and what tools can you use to make sure it plays out the way you want it to?

You can read more here.


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