September 1, 2010 fm

5 Steps To Becoming A Professional Speaker – Step 1

© 2010 Seedeo Marianne Koch, Münster

Step 1: Train Your Skills

Before you can harvest the fruits you have to plant the seed. This must be a universal law for any professional accomplishment.

As far as public speaking is concerned, I planted my seed without even knowing it…

Five years ago two friends of mine, Birgitte and Karin, told me about some “weird” club where people meet — voluntarily (!!!) — and practice their public speaking skills. Since I’m a great fan of Karaoke — for me the greatest form of self-abandonment — I gave it a try the following week.

What I experienced at Prestigious Speakers Barcelona, a local chapter of Toastmasters International, I will never forget it. Yes — it needed getting used to it — everything nailed down to a rigid, standardized agenda-driven structure, everyone applauding all the time, laughter where I might not have laughed necessarily.

But then — I met incredible people determined to self-improvement and I could foresee the seemingly endless potential for improvement in each and every member. That very night I joined the Toastmasters family.

Toastmasters emphasizes learning by doing, and you do it with people you like. You’ll learn…

  • how to speak;
  • how to move your body;
  • how to vary your voice, so the people in the last row won’t fall asleep;
  • how to use supporting visual aids — what we call props;
  • how to include catchy anecdotes, quotations, and humor;
  • how to maintain eye contact with the entire audience;
  • how to structure a speech;
  • how to keep your allotted time by speaking less while still making your point;
  • and how to engage your audiences enthusiastically.

You’ll turn into a passionate speaker, and you’ll always have your greatest asset on display: your smile! [from The Seven Minute Star]

Two hours, two times a month, four speeches each time, four evaluations, 2-minute impromptu speeches — in five years I incrementally practiced my public speaking skills without even noticing it.

For me this rhetorical school without a teacher has turned out to be a Fort Knox of public speaking skills. Five years with Toastmasters made me plant the seed to becoming a professional speaker and trainer.

Whatever your seed is — you’ll have to train your skills first before you continue with Step 2, Go Out There.


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