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Keep on Rolling

Learning to swim or play tennis well takes practice. So does learning to be a better presenter. It is especially important to speak often, get helpful feedback, and grow. You'll get rusty if you don't speak for six months. Here are some ways to get that exposure and keep tuned up.

  • Join Toastmasters. I often ask seminar attendees how many are past or current Toastmasters, and typically only a few hands go up. Yet Toastmasters is an effective and convenient way for novices and experienced people alike to advance speaking skills through frequent safe practice and feedback sessions

  • Take on a leadership role in your professional association, management club, or personal interest group. In this role, you'll usually run meetings, introduce people, and give reports, all opportunities to try out your speaking skills.

  • Look for extra speaking opportunities. Offer to give a five-minute status report at a group meeting. Submit a proposal to deliver a paper at a professional conference. Talk to your training department or local college about teaching a class in your specialty. Volunteer for a speakers' bureau for a favorite cause.

  • Keep a scorecard about your own performances. Keep track of the hits and misses (rephrased as opportunities to improve). Ask colleagues to give you feedback. Above all, apply winning presentation concepts to all your normal work situations. And keep growing.


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