Dale Carnegie is best known for his mega-selling book How to win friends and influence people, but that was not the only book he has written worthy of note. Over the past few weeks I have been perusing through his How to develop self-confidence and influence people by public speaking, and I have decided that it was worth blogging about. In the first chapter, he enumerates four things in helping one speak in public:
First, Start with a strong and persistent desire to get better.
Second, Know thoroughly what you are going to talk about.
Third, Act confident.
Fourth, Practice! Practice! Practice!
All of these are good tips. I would place special emphasis on preparation myself. I remember my Grandad telling me that if you want to speak well, learn the subject of your talk better than anyone else in the room. This will also will be a tremendous confidence enhancer; regardless of how well you can speak extemporaneously, if you don't know the first thing about the subject your are speaking about then your speech is going to look like Obama's sans his teleprompter.
How should one prepare? Carnegie has this to say:
Does the preparation of a speech mean the getting together of some faultless phrases written down or memorized? No. Does it mean the assembling of a few casual thoughts that really convey very little to you personally? Not at all. It means the assembling of your thoughts, your ideas, your convictions, your urges....Do not sit down and try to manufacture a speech in thirty minutes. A speech can't be cooked to order like a steak. A speech must grow. Select you topic early in the week, think over it during odd moments, brood over it, sleep over it, dream over it, discuss it with your friends. Make it a topic of conversation. Ask yourself all possible questions concerning it.
This is precisely the opposite of what novel speakers do; they sit down, write up a speech, rehearse it, and either memorize the speech or read out loud from a script when delivering it. NEVER do that. Don't even have notes. It is an absolute nightmare to sit and listen to a speech that is read out loud, or even memorized and recited word for word.
I suggest you prepare your speech by writing the main points on a piece of paper, then pontificate your speech in your head or out loud throughout the day while you are doing whatever it is you are doing. You'll be surprise how effective this is.