Just like any skill, public speaking requires practice if you want to improve. These 10 activities for public speaking have helped me become a better public speaker and will help you also.
Most activities for public speaking focus around the technical ability to speak. Word games, tongue twisters and voice warm up activities all exist to help you train your voice to be more accurate. However, the main thing that holds people back from speaking in public is not the proper use of their voice, it is the fear of public speaking itself.
I have devised 10 real life activities that will help you deal with the fear of public speaking and help grow your confidence and minimise your anxiety.
The hardest speech you will ever give is usually your first speech
I have found that as my public speaking experience grows, so does my confidence.
If you still aren’t convinced that public speaking is for you then I suggest you read why is public speaking important.
10 Real Life Activities For Public Speaking
Here are the 10 activities. Don’t try to complete them all at once. Choose just one and work on that.
1. Record yourself on a video
I have found this to be THE most effective activity if you want to become a better public speaker.
Set up your laptop and stand in front of it, or set up your phone, and record yourself giving a speech. It might be the speech you are preparing for or it might be talking in general and then watch yourself back.
Look at the things you do and the things that you say and see what you are doing right and wrong so you can correct it. By watching yourself you control the odd things you do and it also builds confidence.
2. Practice the Kramer technique
In Seinfeld Kramer used to always run into Jerry’s apartment and make this big entrance that interrupted anything that was happening in the show.
By “the Kramer technique” I mean that you should practice for interruptions.
Create circumstances where you are interrupted when your speaking. Maybe you can throw your cue cards up in the air half way through your speech, or pretend that your power point presentation fails or pretend you have lost your train of thought.
3. The impromptu activity
Create an impromptu speech and you can even tie this in with activity #1 – filming yourself. Think about a random topic and try to create a speech around that topic.
Set a time limit around 5-10 and practice being impromptu and speaking off the cuff. I have created a blog post all about winging it if you want more information.
You can also use something like a word generator to get ideas if you cannot think of topics to talk about yourself or if you want a bit of a challenge.
4. Reverse the order of your speech
Often when creating a speech we learn the progression of our speech. Point #1 leads into point #2.
This is fine when everything goes to plan but creates issues if you lose your train of thought or miss a point. By missing a point or important story you can lose your place completely as your mind is relying on mental cues that may not occur to remember and deliver your speech.
By altering the order of your speech you will learn your content better so when mistakes are made or interruptions occur in real life you will be able to get back on track quickly.
So mix it up. Start with your conclusion and deliver your important points backwards. Or jumble the order of your key points so they are random.
5. Pretend you are speaking to 5 year olds
They say if you can’t explain your topic or key message to a 5 year old then you don’t know your topic well enough.
This comes downs to simplifying the essence of your presentation and getting the essence out.
Many people, when giving a public speech, are so focused on their structure that they forget about the core message of the speech and getting that out.
Getting your message across is the most important thing about your presentation and sometimes we can “lose the forest for the trees” and forget about our message. Simplifying it for a 5 year old can help you keep your key message as the core of your presentation.
6. Start a podcast about your topic (or at least record yourself)
For me I have multiple podcasts that I record on a weekly basis. Some audio podcasts and some video podcasts.
I am improving my public speaking skills by creating content for an audience.
Once of the reasons people don’t get better at public speaking is because they never do it. If we create a podcast and it is going out to an audience it forces your mind to think about public speaking more and get better at it.
It also gives you valuable feedback, either by listening to it yourself, or from your audience to see what podcast episodes are popular and what topics interest people.
7. Relate any subject to your one particular story
Maybe you have a few stories that articulate a certain or a single story for each individual point.
What you can do to become better at public speaking is to choose just one story from your speech and make every single point come out of that one story.
This forces your mind to think creatively as you need to be able to draw multiple lessons from a single story. By limiting what you have to work with you expand your mind and your public speaking abilities.
8. Take a news article from today and put it into your speech
Go to a news site like news.com or news.com.au and seek out a news article from today (not yesterday or last month) and find a way to put that into your speech.
This is a challenge because you need to take an example that may not be related to your field of expertise or your topic in general and bring it into your presentation.
9. Condense your speech to one point (and then only talk about that point for the entirety of your speech)
So let’s say you are giving a 30 minute speech and you have 5 points. Strip those 5 points and choose just 1 point.
Now, how can you create the same length speech for just that one point in your speech. This will help challenge you to communicate more effectively but will also help you to know your content better.
10. Watch a TED Talk
I find TED talks better to watch than Toastmasters presentations because at a TED talk the speaker is trying to get a message across. In toastmasters the speaker is trying to show their public speaking skills…two very different goals.
This is people talking about their fields of study and their expertise and their goal is to get their message across.
Watch the TED talk and ask yourself “what did they do well”, “what body language did they use”, “how did they use stories to get their message across” etc.
Analyse the speeches and try to learn from them.