Monday, June 20, 2016

Does public speaking training always work?

Of course not! But, if you start from almost zero like the barefoot boy in a one-room schoolhouse shown above, almost anything will help.

When you already have some experience (whether at the apprentice, journeyman, or master level) before you begin training you need to ask both 1) Does the trainer know more than you do? and 2) Does he know how to communicate it? If not, then you will be wasting your time and money.

On April 15, 2016 Gavin Meikle blogged about Does public speaking training work? He discussed but did not link to an article at Forbes in 2012 by Kristi Hedges titled Confessions of a Former Public Speaking Trainer: Don’t Waste Your Money. I had blogged about it on April 23, 2012 in a post titled Does the cost for public speaking training outweigh the benefits? In that post I mentioned one can view training as going on a journey. Depending on where you begin and how far you need to go any one of four ways might make the most sense. Ranked by decreasing time and increasing cost they are:

1. Joining a Toastmasters club is being given a map and then like driving your own 4x4 vehicle on a dirt road.

2. Taking an introductory public speaking class at a college or university is like going on a bus tour.

3. Attending a commercial workshop is like hiring a guide with a luxury car.

4. Using a speaking coach is like waving down and hiring a taxi.

Gavin’s post suggested you ask the following very pertinent questions before taking a course:

A]  Will you have the chance to practice your speaking at least twice during the course?

B]  Will your speech be recorded and will you receive copies of the videos?

C]  What’s the group size?  Remember, the more participants there are, the less time there will be to practice. If the group size is larger than seven, do they have a second trainer?

D]  Will you receive individual feedback from the trainer

E]  Will they focus more time on your mistakes or your strengths? (Believe me, concentrating on strengths creates much faster behavioral change.)

F]  Will you receive feedback from your fellow trainees?

G]  Will you be asked to give feedback to your fellow trainees? (Having to give feedback makes you pay close attention and helps you notice the little differences that make a big difference.)

H]  Is the trainer an accomplished public speaker themselves and do they have relevant business experience?

I]  Do they teach a “one right way” approach or do they help you find your own unique speaking style?

Toastmasters works for lots of people, if you take the time to research and find the right club. It did for me because on my first visit I luckily found one (Capitol Club) with an eclectic variety of experienced speakers I could learn from by watching. They included my mentor Bill Kearley, a veterinarian with an MBA. Another was Jim Poston, an opera singer and former TV news anchorman who currently teaches both theater and communication. A third was Michael Kroth, a University of Idaho education professor with both an MBA and a PhD who had written four books. Others included Duncan Richardson, who owns and runs The Academy of World Taekwando and appeared on American Ninja Warrior.

The 1874 image of a young orator came from the Library of Congress.

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