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How do you improve your communication and public speaking skills?

To all the professionals out there, there are so many professions that require pristine communications skills. For students that are shy and/or not good at public speaking and communication, what are some suggestions that helped you?

Thank you comment icon Hi Leah! I too struggle with communication and public speaking, but I've been slowly getting better at it by joining things I love to do, for example, acting. Also speaking up about something in the world that needs to be looked at. Hope this helps! Kayla

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Nancy’s Answer

Hey Leah, I can relate to being shy and finding public speaking and communication challenging too. A great starting point is to practice sharing your thoughts with a small group of friends, whether you know them well or not. This can involve simply explaining your perspective or convincing others to see things your way. As conversations flow, actively adapt your communication to keep the discussion going. Gradually, these small steps will build up your skills for speaking in front of larger groups and communicating effectively.

Incorporate this practice into your daily life to make it feel more natural, and you'll discover your unique communication style along the way. Remember, our fears and insecurities often exist only in our minds, and the situation may not be as daunting as we imagine. Keep going, and you'll see improvement in no time!
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Ann’s Answer

Join a Toastmasters group. This is what they do. This is a skill that requires a lot of practice, stepping out of your comfort zone little by little. And before you know it, you will be a PRO! In the meantime, there are many free courses or inexpensive ones like Udemy that will really help. And practice, practice, practice! Go in front of people to practice as much as you can - those who you're most comfortable with.

You've got this! Do well and best of luck!
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Wayne’s Answer

Enhance your public speaking skills with these essential techniques, making your presentations engaging and effective. Keep the following tips in mind as you work on refining your public speaking abilities:

1. Improve your delivery: The way you convey your message is crucial in public speaking. Ensure your audience can hear and comprehend the information you're sharing. To enhance your delivery, eliminate filler words, speak slowly and clearly, pause occasionally, and modulate your tone of voice.

2. Utilize body language: Nonverbal communication is a powerful tool when speaking in public. Move around the stage gracefully, maintain a relaxed posture, use gestures to emphasize points, and adjust your facial expressions to match the tone of your speech.

3. Connect with your audience: Engage your audience by making eye contact, asking questions, and using relatable vocabulary and examples. This will help them feel included and better understand the information you're presenting.

4. Make your presentation interesting: Capture your audience's attention by starting with an exciting opening line, sharing personal stories or jokes, using visual aids, creating a callback phrase, and outlining your presentation's structure.

5. Practice regularly: Familiarize yourself with the material by practicing your speech frequently. Start by practicing alone, then ask a friend or coworker for feedback. Recording yourself can also help identify areas for improvement in your body language and delivery.

By incorporating these tips into your public speaking routine, you'll be better prepared and more confident when delivering your presentations. Good luck!
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Elise’s Answer

Public speaking was an area I struggled with and needed to build that competency (… but I was terrified, paralyzed in fear, as many individuals are). I suggest facing your fears in a safe environment so that when you need to be confident, your experience will undoubtedly kick in and help you overcome uncertainties (that is how I did It).

Practice, Practice Practice! Some ideas I utilized:
• Get involved with community events such as volunteering which exposes you to more people
• Read out loud to family, friends, in class or volunteer at a library to read to children
• Join the drama/theater club or local playhouse in your area which puts you on a stage with a script
• Attend a Toastmasters meeting (changed my life for the better) Toastmasters.org
• Go to local Improv events, and consider joining (it is super fun, teaches you to think on your feet, and builds confidence)

Given your question-you’re already ahead of the game knowing the need and having the desire to improve. Well done!

There is no right or wrong way to prepare for public speaking, but preparing for it will turn that anxiousness into performance energy that you can harness and feel good about.

You got this, Leah. Best wishes for continued success-
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. I am glad you are interested in improve your communication and public speaking skills.
Below are my suggestions :
1. Yo u can attend some classes or find our some techniques online
2. Identify some topics (e.g. story telling) to practice the skills
3. Try to practice yourself in front of mirror and record it if possible. Review and practice it again
4. Try to present this with a small group of people you are familiar, e.g. your family
5. Identify any public speaking opportunities and repeat steps 2-4 above
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Gianni’s Answer

Practice leads to perfection! Embracing discomfort is essential for growth! Moreover, a valuable piece of advice for public speaking is to willingly take the lead. Be the first to present! Particularly in school, where everyone is focused on themselves, seize the opportunity and exude confidence.
Thank you comment icon I was going to answer this and then saw Gianni's response here, which was very close to what I wanted to say! I struggled with public speaking early in my career, not because I wasn't capable, but because I let my nerves get the best of me. Practice over time lessened the nerves and made my discomfort of public speaking more tolerable. Another thing that helps is preparation. Most people are a lot less nervous when they know their material and the points they want to make. Practice plus preparation goes a long way toward being a great presenter. Melanie Chesser-Garcia
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Tatiana’s Answer

Absolutely, I second that suggestion! Toastmasters is indeed a fantastic platform. As a non-native English speaker myself, I joined Toastmasters a few years back to enhance my English communication skills, and it was a game-changer for me. It's not just educational, it's also incredibly enjoyable and it equips you to become an excellent storyteller! Look for a Toastmaster group in your region. The best part? You can attend sessions without any charge. It's a wonderful opportunity, so don't miss out!
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Cinni’s Answer

Hey Leah, you have got some great advises from other professionals that are very useful.

This is something I have struggled myself as well as I came from very conservative environment so I have been very shy to speak in front of group of colleagues let alone public speaking. I would like to share some tips that I have used to overcome these challenges

- Keep trying; This is very simple yet very important tool . Even if you fail initially, learn from your experience and try again. you will definitely succeed.
- Preparation; it's a key to successful communication professionally or public speaking. As much details you prepare, you would feel more confident about it.
- Do no take things personally; For shy people, its very important to have validation about their speech so if you didn't get a good feedback just don't take it personally. Try to get constructive feedback and use that for the next time.
- Find a mentor; It could be great help if you find the right mentor. you can have open conversation and get the constructive feedback\ piece of advise that would help to build your foundation, specially in the initial years of your career. Mentor can be a person who you can respect and trust for taking advise.

I wish you all the best.
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Michelle’s Answer

It's important to take small steps in a comfortable environment when trying out new things. Public speaking, for instance, can be less intimidating when you're addressing strangers rather than people you know, especially when you're just beginning. You can explore this through a variety of ways, including volunteering at a charity organization or joining a social group related to your interests. If public speaking doesn't feel instinctive, don't worry! You can also venture into other unfamiliar territories like taking a theater or drama class or participating in an improv series. These activities not only offer a good time but also push you beyond your comfort zone. To top it off, why not record a selfie video of yourself? This way, you can replay it, see how you present yourself, and learn from it. Remember, every step you take is a step towards growth.
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Maria’s Answer

Hi Leah, first thing is to understand that this is completely normal and university can also make you quite shy as there are so many people around you. With that being said, you also have the capability of improving this.
First, be ready to say yes to challenging situations. With this I mean, say yes to being the presenter, speaker etc - put yourself into that situation in order to overcome it.
Second, practice, practice and practice! Use your mirror to talk to yourself, practice in your living room and imagine you are in the real situation. If you know what you're talking about and know what to say, it's more likely for the speech to come out smoother. It may seem scary at first but practice makes perfect and soon it will feel natural.
Third, focus on your breathing. Meditation is a way to calm down before public speaking. You can prepare yourself for it during the days before the event and on the day. This will help you calm down and clear your head from those mental barriers.
Fourth, when you are getting nervous or don't know what to say, instead of saying "uuuuhhmmm", try to stop, breath and carry on. Your speech will sound a lot more fluent and smooth, hiding your nervousness.

Best of luck and be patient, don't be harsh on yourself... we've all been in your place at some point!
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Sean’s Answer

Joined the Kawanis Club or the Elks Lodge and try making speeches with that audience,the feedback will help...
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Karin’s Answer

Discover chances to practice, which can be found in your everyday life. Is there an activity at school that involves talking in front of your classmates or the entire school? Perhaps you're at a family event and you can give a toast, or during a holiday, there's a special passage that your family reads together - be the one to read it! I know someone who even joined an acting class.

The most effective way to conquer this fear is to practice and expose yourself in comfortable environments.
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Beth A.’s Answer

Hey there! The top suggestions I have for you is to 1) look for a person whose communication skills you admire, 2) ask for their guidance or tips, and 3) keep practicing, practicing, and practicing! Moreover, I'd encourage you to join your school's debate team (if there is one). It's an awesome spot to sharpen your skills alongside other students.
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Mudita’s Answer

Hello Leah,

I've discovered that practice truly makes perfect. I must admit, it's been a bit of a hurdle for me at times because public speaking tends to make me feel a tad nervous. It requires a good deal of self-motivation to put myself in situations where I'm speaking in public and need to practice. I noticed a suggestion above about joining Toastmasters, and I wholeheartedly second that notion. It's a wonderfully supportive group whose primary mission is to help folks improve their communication and public speaking abilities. I've heard they're even meeting online now, which could be a great option if you're having trouble finding a local group. Best of luck! Remember, you've totally got this!
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Leah’s Answer

Hi Leah!
I'm also Leah - so I wanted to chime in as well. There are some amazing answers here already and I want to echo them.
If you keep practicing and try to put yourself in speaking roles as often as possible, that will help. Also, if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend the Toastmasters Club - it is so helpful and the people in most clubs are incredibly supportive.

The more you practice, the better you will become, but try to go easy on yourself and not worry too much - almost everyone feels the way you do! Try to keep that in mind. Also, remember to breathe and slow down.

Best of luck!!
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