Butterflies flying in formation
Watching and listening to a great speaker can be an inspiring experience. But the skill of standing up before an audience and delivering an impressive presentation is a skill that can be learned
I’d always believed that public speaking was a talent that was in your genes, something you were born with. Contrary to popular belief it’s a skill that can be learned.
One of the most popular and oversubscribed workshops is always the Presentation Skills Workshop. They normally last a day cost up to £750, and after a day of workshops and a little practise, someone shy and stuttering can be transformed into a confident presenter. It just doesn’t work like that. Even if you know the theory and everything you should do in front of an audience, in practise it just doesn’t work. It takes a lot of practise, practise, practise.
I was introduced to public speaking through Toastmasters International – a not for profit organisation established in America in the 1930s. The premise is simple – a supportive and risk-taking environment where people can learn how to speak and gain confidence in front of an audience.
Many Toastmasters’ members originally join because they’re on the corporate ladder and at some rung on that ladder they’re expected to give presentations. The horror, panic and fear of failure leads them to a Toastmasters Club where they can usually get those butterflies flying in formation.
I’m very evangelistic about Toastmasters because I know it works. It works because of the support, structure and the skills that are learned and practised on a regular basis. There is also valuable feedback for every speaker at every meeting which is invaluable in a world where positive feedback is rare.
I was honoured to be the President of London Cardinals Toastmasters in London, which has the reputation of being one of the world’s leading speaking clubs – the home of many champion speakers.
I have the privilege of mentoring many of its leading speakers, who have gone on to become professional speakers and even stand-up comics!
I also work effectively on coaching speakers in the corporate world how to deliver and construct presentations and inspiring speeches.