Public Speaking – Practice every chance you get!
As you many know, my training center is in center city Philadelphia, close to my favorite, and somewhat famous science museum, The Franklin Institute. I saw that they were looking “for individuals with a science, technology, or education background to volunteer as Science Presenters in our many exhibits. Science Presenters answer questions, explain science concepts, and do demonstrations.”I thought to myself, “Wow–what a great opportunity for those in the sciences to practice talking about science in an interesting, clear, and concise manner”.
In fact, I strongly believe (and research supports this) that consistent, regular practice is the best way to become a captivating, concise, and compelling speaker.
Why? The more you practice, the more you speak, which gives you more opportunities for successful speaking experiences. With each repeated success in public speaking your skill and confidence will build. As your confidence builds, so does your ability to share your natural enthusiasm for your passions. It really is that simple. The more you present and the more regularly you present, the better and more confident you will become.
So how do you get more practice (in addition to volunteering at your local science museum)?
If you haven’t heard of it by now, there’s an non-profit organization, Toastmaster’s International, that is specifically dedicated to helping leaders build their communication skills. With clubs around the world, it’s a good place to get regular practice and good feedback.
Make short videos highlighting your current published work. It’s easy to do with the webcam and simple microphones found on your computer. Then submit to SciVee, Viddler, Revver, or even YouTube. The advantage of submitting to SciVee is that your work (and your communication skills) will get broad exposure into the scientific community. If you use viddler.com, you can forward the video to a few friends and they can insert text and audio/video comments directly into your presentation (I use this frequently with my clients! ) No matter how you decide to do it, this makes for great practice and will certainly help you to improve.
Finally, it is important to look for and enthusiastically say “yes” to any and every opportunity to speak. Practice in the lab, practice at journal club, practice in student organizations, practice at your church, practice at parties, practice in your community. When someone backs out at the last minute, be the first one to volunteer to fill-in. Don’t be like most people who try to avoid speaking situations because it makes them uncomfortable. It is very important to think of those opportunities as a chance to improve.
I’ll be looking for you the next time I visit my favorite science museum!