Good Eye Contact Takes Practice

It’s hard enough maintaining good eye contact while you’re speaking to an audience. It’s 10 times harder after you’ve forgotten what you were going to say next.

Places to practice making good eye contact:

  • Cashiers at grocery stories, department stories, gas stations
  • Baristas
  • Wait-staff at restaurants
  • Bartenders
  • Table Topics section of a Toastmasters club meeting
  • Online video conference (look directly into your camera)

What Part Of Public Speaking Makes You Nervous?

The public part or the speaking part?

The following Facebook comments from fellow Toastmasters provide a deeper insight than I imagined:

  • Author W. Faye Portman: “Speaking [part]. Saying the wrong thing.”
  • Linda Thompson: “Pubic part. I like talking.”
  • Clark Pierce: “For me it’s the public part depending on the audience and topic. I gave a speech about failure in my club about 8 months ago. I felt good about it as I was going to the meeting. When I got there we had 5 guests. I considered changing the speech to a more palatable subject so as not to be off putting to these guests and because I was feeling vulnerable with do many more new people than we normally have visit. I gave the speech anyway and I think over the next few weeks 3 of them joined.”

Toastmasters Public Speaking Takeaways for Dec 2019

  • Each speech does not have to be perfect. You can mess up your next speech too. Your speaking path is an arc of fumbles that leads to self-confidence.
  • When it comes to practicing public speaking in front of your Toastmasters club, feeling the feeling of feeling awkward is your goal.
  • Flip the script on your fear of being judged by your audience. Let judgement happen.

Breathe, On Purpose

“Forgot to breathe” is a common observation from Toastmasters who are doing a post-mortem about going blank and/or panicking during their speech.

The answer is an on-going cycle of rehearsals and drills and “again, from the top” that put you in the moment when you go blank/panic. Then you can start to add “breathing, on purpose” as a technique to address the moment.

Eventually, you reduce the time-cycle between panic and breathe.

Fear of Public Speaking

Toastmasters observation: sometimes peeps overspend on “planning” and underspend on “doing.”

There’s no substitute for falling down and getting back up.

Tonight’s (Sept 9th) public speaking demo takeaway when addressing what to do when you “go blank” during a presentation – and you’re very scientifically minded:

  • Develop a methodology, a framework, and test different techniques to overcome “going blank.”
  • And use the Table Topics section to test your hypothesis. Table Topics is like a petri dish ready to test new strains of techniques.

Table Topics (and prepared speeches) is the only place to stress-test your hypothesis.

As a Psychology major at American River College in Sacramento, I learned we only have 2 options: fight or flight.

In Toastmasters public speaking, I learned we have a 3rd option: stand & deliver.

Find The Tool That Works For You

I turned on the air conditioner, so why isn’t my place cooling down? Then I discovered I had the unit dialed to low warm instead of low cool.

Reminds me of the awesome Toastmasters meeting we had this evening about addressing and acknowledging feeling overwhelmed at work (like me realizing my place was still warm) by adjusting our mindset in the moment – and finding a TOOL that works for you (like my physically adjusting my heating/air conditioning unit’s dial).

For Matt, it’s going for a quick run or doing pushups when he feels overwhelmed. For Othello, it’s saying to himself “this is going to be overtime” when he’s tired and really needs to be productive at the end of an already long work day.

Jenny had a bad day at work as what-could-go-wrong did-go-wrong turned into her telltale symptoms of doom: heart racing, flush face. Her next step: report back to us what tool(s) she tries in the moment when work feels overwhelming.

We’ve all been there; just need to find the running, mental adjustment, breathing technique – THE TOOL – that works for you in the moment.