Giving presentations can be one of the most feared aspects of work, but with training and practice, the nerves can be managed. Just before a speech competition, my good friend, Evelyn Kay, said ‘When you have butterflies in your stomach, make sure they are flying in formation!’ That helped me relax and enjoy myself, which is important because if you are having fun, so will the audience.
It gives me great pleasure to write that I won the International Speech Competition at Casterbridge Speakers Club this week and will go on to represent Dorchester at the Toastmasters International area competition in Southampton on April 13th.
Three other highly experienced speakers competed and the standard was high. For all of us, this was the culmination of years of developing presentation skills at the club and in our work. It helped me put into practice what I tutor on our High Impact Presentation course and have also learnt from an excellent mentor. The key learning for me was practice, practice, practice. Oh and remember to breathe! Doing this can help you channel those butterflies to where you need them.
The focus of my speech, entitled: ‘There’s Nothing Funny About Growing Old’, was based on the words of Abraham Lincoln: ‘It’s not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years’. Whilst there was plenty of humour, there was also a serious message that you need to take action now to make the best of your later years. This is a message that is endorsed by the work of the Phoenix Legacy; a voluntary community project, which enables people over 50 to be more active in mind, body and spirit. Training for Results has been a key sponsor of this project over the last three years and I had the honour of being an Olympic Torch Bearer as a result.
Getting constructive feedback and advice is invaluable to a speaker. This is something else you can develop at Toastmaster events. Paul Hutchings won Best Speech Evaluator and will be joining me in Southampton. For more detail visit Toastmasters International