Make The Call: Sharpen Your Public Speaking From Home
Like any other skill, developing the ability to speak in public requires practise. The more opportunities you get to stand up and communicate with a room of people, the better you become at public speaking.
It’s for this reason that teachers often make excellent speakers; they spend hours every day addressing classes of students (a difficult audience to keep engaged) and develop strong communication skills along the way through the sheer amount of daily practise.
But with social restrictions in place and gatherings reduced, the opportunities to speak to a live audience are becoming harder to find. The longer we go without doing so, the more our communication skills dullen, and our comfort-zones shrink.
While there’s no comparison for “real life” practise when it comes to public speaking, one simple and often overlooked way of practising our communication skills is to make a habit of picking up the phone and speaking.
How Phone Calls Improve Public Speaking.
Having a meaningful conversation over the phone is a great way to keep our communication skills sharp and our confidence high. It allows us to practise vocal variety, story-telling, active listening and many of the fundamentals of clear, concise speaking.
But despite the benefits, instant messaging is now our default mode of contact. Most people – especially younger generations – prefer to text or email rather than actually speak to someone on the phone. Many people even find themselves feeling anxious at the thought of making a call to anyone outside of their closest family and friends.
This mental resistance is caused by a subconscious fear that it won’t be a pleasant experience: “Will they want to speak to me? Will they even remember who I am?”
Which quickly turns into: “They’re probably too busy and won’t want to be disturbed” as we find a reasonable sounding excuse for not facing our fear. The reality of course, is that most people would be perfectly happy to receive a phone-call out of the blue.
Challenge Your Comfort-Zone.
If you needed a push, this is it. We’re going to kick-start your new confident calling habit with an easy to follow challenge which will gradually push your comfort zone.
Step 1. Write down 5-10 people you’d like to connect with. These should include friends, family and colleagues, as well as one or two people you don’t yet know but would like to reach out to, such as a possible mentor or business partner.
Step 2. Now re-order the names, beginning with the person you would be most comfortable getting in touch with, and ending with the person you would find most challenging to call.
Step 3. With your list in place, your challenge is to call one person each day and have a conversation with them.
Overcome Nerves and have Meaningful Conversations.
If it’s friends or family, you do not need a specific reason to call. It’s normal to ring “just for a catch up”, so don’t overthink it, make the call and ask them how they’re doing. Often the most deep and meaningful conversations come about this way, from starting with no particular objective or reason for calling.
If you’re calling someone you’re less familiar with or haven’t yet met, think about why it is that you want to communicate with that person, and then be honest with them about your intentions; “I really enjoy following your story and would love to hear how you got into that line of work”
Most people love talking about themselves and giving out advice. So ask questions, show genuine interest, and you’ll find most people will be happy to give you their time.
If you do feel nervous when making the call, don’t worry about it. It’s perfectly normal and people won’t hold it against you. With each phone-call, you will begin feeling less nervous and more self-assured in your ability to hold a conversation. Pushing your comfort zone then becomes an exciting challenge rather than a dreaded fear.
Confident Speaker, Better Friend.
It’s easy to underestimate something as simple as making phone-calls, but over time this habit will transform not only your telephone manner, but your overall self-confidence and ability to communicate with anyone, anytime.
You will notice yourself having more interesting conversations, connecting with people on a deeper level and building a strong network of positive relationships in both your personal and professional life.
The skills and confidence you develop through speaking over the phone will also begin showing up in face to face situations; at meetings, networking events and even when speaking on stage, you will begin to notice yourself speaking more articulately and feeling more confident.
Start with those 3 steps now – make your list of people, start with those you’re most comfortable with, and begin picking up the phone every day. You will find yourself becoming a stronger networker, a more confident speaker, and a better friend.
Start now, make the call.
To improve your public speaking confidence, to create a Ted style speech and to master stage presence book onto one of our public speaking courses In Manchester.