Do you want to muscle up your public speaking skills? Or do you want to pick up your fear of public speaking and throw it out the window? Maybe you should consider a public speaking boot camp.
Today I’m going to show you five activities that you can do to bulk up your skills and boost your confidence in public speaking.
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These activities can be done from the comfort and privacy of your own home and should only take five to ten minutes. You could even do them with a group of friends to help you overcome any fears you have of speaking in front of others.
These activities are designed so that you can do one each and every day to grow your public speaking skills. You could do them when you first wake up in the morning or when you’ve come home from work at night.
Simply do these activities and practise these skills and you will see yourself progress as a public speaker.
#1: Five minutes of speaking Non-Stop
Activity number one will require a phone or any video recording device.
This activity should only take about ten minutes. Set up your phone or video camera, press record and start speaking. Then you’re going to speak non-stop for five minutes on any topic you like. You could also use a topic generator if you’d like to be given a random subject.
The idea is for you to become comfortable in front of the camera. Practise speaking comfortably without hesitations or embarrassment. Don’t stop speaking if you make a mistake or fumble your sentences.
This activity will help you get used to making mistakes. It will also teach you to roll with those mistakes. Much of public speaking confidence comes from being able to make and fix mistakes during your presentation.
When you’ve finished your video you’re going to watch it back. This will do two things.
Firstly, it will help you get used to the sound of your own voice. You will always sound different to your own ears then you will to other people or when coming through a video. This is why it’s so important to listen to yourself back. We need to get over the fear of sounding silly.
Secondly, it will get you used to seeing yourself on camera – to seeing yourself as your audience sees you. This will help you become comfortable and confident standing in front of people as a public speaker.
This is the most important activity that you could complete from this whole set. Make sure to practice it often.
#2: Four different openings
The second activity is to create four different openings for the same speech.
I have previously done a article on the different public speech openings so head there for more details.
The four basic introductions for a speech involve opening with a quote, a question, a factoid or a story. There are obviously other ways but these are the four most common and effective methods.
So for this day’s activity you first need to pick a topic. Again you can use our topic generator or make it up yourself. The idea is to create four separate openings for that one speech.
Speaking in public is all about getting a message across. It doesn’t matter how you do it. So practising these different public speaking introductions will train your mind to communicate your message in different ways.
Practising this activity will eventually show you if you are more effective at one way of opening than the others. Similarly it could teach you if a certain introduction works better for certain topics.
But ultimately it will improve your speaking skills and provide you with valuable experience in audience engagement.
#3: Speaking without “umming”
On day three you’re going to speak without using filler words.
Words like “umm” or “err” or “you know” can become distracting in a speech. You may not even realise you are saying them.
So – like we did on day one – you’re going to film yourself speaking non-stop for five minutes. Doing this will help you understand what words you’re saying consistently that you shouldn’t be. Then you can work to delete those from your vocabulary.
If you find yourself umming and erring halfway through those five minutes you should start again.
The whole idea of this activity is to train yourself to recognise the filler words that you use and to replace them with pauses. This is a more natural way to speak in front of a crowd and will help you to exude confidence.
#4: Five minutes of eccentricity
Day number four requires you to be eccentric for five minutes.
This activity is all about stepping outside of your shell. Not everyone has the natural capacity to be super excited all of the time. So it is important to practise being pumped up and enthusiastic in your speech. Practice being eccentric.
We need to be eccentric in our voice. We need to talk louder and more excited. Try jumping up and down or running. Use big hand gestures. Do anything that gives your presentation energy.
These are obviously not things that you would do for a real speech. But if you practise being eccentric it is easy to scale the energy back. It is far more difficult to start conservatively and then “up” our energy levels.
Get used to being happy and hyperactive. A presentation is not just about delivering information. It also requires emotion.
Being eccentric for five minutes – and again film yourself – will get you used to watching yourself being crazy and you will become a more confident public speaker. You will know how you look and you won’t be embarrassed. Even if you’re being stupid.
#5: The Noun Game
On the last day of boot camp is the Noun Game.
This can be done in either of two ways. You can play the Noun Game for one minute each and do it five times over. Or you can just play it once for five minutes.
For this activity you’re going to want to pick two random nouns – two “naming words” or things. You can use a noun generator if you like.
Then you are going to create a story or a speech about those two nouns. See how you can connect them together.
Let’s look at an example. Say your nouns are “mechanic” and “cat”. You can either speak for five minutes straight or tell five different one-minute stories. The idea is to speak confidently and non-stop about these nouns. Talk about a mechanic who was forever being interrupted by his cat. Or about a cat who thwarted the efforts of an evil mechanic. Or about Larry the Cat who defied all the odds to become the best mechanic in the Southern Hemisphere.
The content of your speeches doesn’t matter. This activity will help you gain confidence in thinking off the top of your head for impromptu story-telling.
Creating a link between two things that seem unrelated is a powerful gift when you’re a public speaker. Taking two concepts and somehow connecting them together creates a better understanding for the audience and helps to get your message across.
The Noun Game is one of my favourite games. It can help you to become a confident and effective public speaker.
And remember – one of the major confidence boosters for public speakers is being able to make mistakes and to roll with them. Many of us fear that we’re going to stumble and forget our words. We dread the thought of standing in front of a crowd with nothing to say.
But the Noun Game – and all of these other activites –will help you learn to think on your feet. You’ll learn how to make mistakes and how to overcome those mistakes and keep moving forward.
And when that happens you will no longer have to be afraid.
So there you have five daily activities that you can do for a public speaking boot camp. If you get to day five and you want to go again, then go again.
Keep practising and keep trying to improve every single day.