Retired Police Officer | Employment Counselor
San Antonio, Texas
I was totally mortified when I found out that my current job would require me to teach classes. Thankfully (or not?) it was always the same presentation, so I got to play around with it, and figure out what worked and what did not. I had no control over what was on the slides, but I was free to say what I wanted, within reason. Because this is a class about how to search for jobs, that people were required to attend, even though they did not want to be there, I sensed a degree of hostility.
Over time, I learned the importance of speaking with, and not AT, my audience. I'd give very short quizzes at the beginning of class, to give them a tiny glimpse of what we would cover - asking questions I knew would get them interested. And, I am a very down-to-earth person. I point out the flaws in our job-search website, and then teach them how to get around them.
Each time I spoke, I challenged myself to do one or two things differently. Start by relaxing the death grip on the podium (joke!), and work up to walking up and down the aisles. Buy your own remote if you need one. Don't read off the power point slides. But above all, find your unique style, and engage the audience. Some people start with a joke. Mine usually fall flat, because my delivery is never right. That's why I went to the quiz. Or, you can tell one of those "a funny thing happened on the way here tonight" stories. . .
Remember, all those people in the audience, they are all human, just like you, and at least two of them are thinking, " gosh, I wish I had the guts to do that!"
I still don't have enough experience with it to say I'd be comfortable in other situations (although I did a press conference once - that was scary!), but I can say that I know I'd be able to do it if I had to!
I would definitely consider toastmasters. I've heard a lot of great things about it. Generally speaking, the best way to get better at something you are weak at is to meet it head on!
Keep at it!
Last updated Dec 03 '17 at 23:37