What do you usually keep in your pockets? If you are like most people, you will have a smartphone in one and a wallet in another. They are both needed: a smartphone to stay connected and a wallet to keep some cash and personal identification to enter secure places.
The smartphone and wallet are a necessity, but will not necessarily lead to your success in life and at work. I submit that to succeed at anything, you also need these two things in your pockets: mints and pocket full of speeches. The reason you need these two is that you are often the only one who does not know that you stink. By that I mean you have a bad breath, and you are bad at speaking. When was the last time someone told you that your breath stinks or you are a sucky speaker.
To fix your bad breath, you can get mints from the nearest store or a vending machine. To fix your bad speaking, you need a proven method that works. A method that you can learn quickly and use it 24/7/365; a method that does not make you feel you are inadequate since you are not speaking in front of hundreds or thousands of people; a method that you can see an improvement on a daily basis, so you want to keep doing it. An effective method of doing this is what I refer to as pocket full of speeches (PFOS). You can use the PFOS method with anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Most public speaking courses are very good in providing you knowledge of what a good speaking looks like, but it is not helpful in turning you into a good speaker. They bring in excellent examples like the great speakers of past and present, but you are rarely going to be giving a great speech, at least not for a while at least.
To learn public speaking, you must first realize that there is no such thing as public speaking. There is only good speaking and bad speaking. Though you will modify your speech in how you give it if you are speaking in front of thousands versus speaking to an individual. But why you are saying it, how you are saying it ans what you are saying should be very similar. There is only one speech.
The main idea of this method is simple: write (blog), record a long speech and then record a short speech. You will enjoy doing this since you will be selecting a topic that you are interested in and will not feel like you are wasting time. At the least, you can always use the short speech. You do not need a stage for that. From this speech, it could lead to networking, friendship, relationship, business or even an opportunity to give a long speech at an event. But it can only happen if you have a pocket full o speeches.
The PFOS method is effective because you see progress in developing your speech, deploying your speech and getting immediate feedback from others. You don't need an audience to be a good speaker.; you need as few as one person to be a good speaker. You can use this method at every opportunity you have when you are speaking.
If the situation is right and the other person is willing to listen to you for a minute to two minutes, then deploy your speech. If you make people feel they are smart, they will think you are smart and want to know you better. You own this so never miss an opportunity to connect. There are plenty of opportunities in a day to connect. The question is, are you willing to take advantage of it. If you can't do good speaking when you are speaking to an individual, then you are not going to have the confidence to speak in front of a lot of people.
I borrow the ideas from the book "The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work" by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. Though the book focuses on how managers can use the progress principle to motivate their employees and increase performance. I think the ideas in the book is applicable applied to anything, including improving your public speaking skills. The idea of this principle is to start with clear goals of becoming a confident speaker and then through seeing progress daily, you keep getting closer to your speaking goals. It sounds simple, but this is what Teresa Amabile, Professor at Harvard Business School, found through her research with companies. You will gain confidence by seeing incremental improvement in your public speaking skills. By seeing improvement, you will be happy and will continue working on making improvements. I believe the progress principle is the key to being a good manager as well as being a good speaker.
The concept of progress principle adopts the concept of small wins in the classic article written by Karl Weick titled, “Small Wins: Redefining the Scale of Social Problems." Small wins is a proven concept that shows up in many articles, blogs, articles and popular books such as Robert Sutton's book "Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to be the Best...and Learn from the Worst," Peter Sims book "Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries," and Shawn Achor's book "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuels Success and Performance at Work." I am using this concept to help improve one's public speaking skills.
The reason people struggle with public speaking is the way it's taught. The courses tend to focus on speeches that you will hardly ever give outside; hence, people soon get rusty and fail to get better and become confident. Often, people get frustrated since they never get to give speeches and develop fear or do not overcome their fear of public speaking. They end up thinking that public speaking is hard that very few can be natural at delivering a good speech.
Obviously, I do not agree with this thinking. If you could see the progress you are making then you are more likely to work on more speeches, especially if you can use them. What I see is that students become good at knowing, but don't get good since they are not doing. They think it is too difficult and give up.
To overcome working on speeches, I tell people that there is no such thing as public speaking; it is bad speaking and good speaking. The speech you give to one should not be that much different than the speech you give to hundreds. Granted they will not be identical, but one should easily be able to tell that 80% of the speech is identical.
How does PFOS method work?
The PFOS method is an incremental and iterative method to develop a speech through writing, doing, speaking and tweaking. Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect speech since there are so many variables that are outside your control. All you control is being ready to connect without having any other agenda. Later if a connection leads to something, then that's just a byproduct of your ability to connect that made it happen. But it all starts with a solid process so you can put yourself in a position to connect.
In this phase, you have to come up with an idea of your speech. I came across an Ask Altucher podcast episode 255, titled "The Perfect Resume to Get Any Job Today." In this short podcast, James Altucher and his wife Claudia are discussing how this young woman named Nina Mufleh got a job at Airbnb.
This is where I go and see what I have written and what others have to say. Since I have been giving a lot of thought to this topic, I knew where to get more information and decided to turn it into a blog. Immediately I was interested in this topic so I started doing some research on, her and I found a blog in Business Insider that provide more details. I decided that this was something I had to write about.
I started writing a draft and after few revisions published a blog titled, "Pitch Ideas To Get A Good Job At Good Companies."
Next I wanted to turn the blog into a speech around 15 minutes. This requires some work, since you can't just read a blog. It does not work. I used the audio recorder and use some of the stylistic techniques that I learned in the Coursera's "Introduction to Public Speaking" course developed by Dr. Matt McGarrity of University of Washington.
Once I had the speech written, I tweaked it to ensure that I was using my vocal effectively. By doing this, the speech also had to be tweaked.
Body Language Phase
Once I had the vocals part done, I had to ensure that my body language was appropriate.
Once I had written the speech, integrated the vocals and the body language, I had to rehearse it few times so that it all worked well together. I had to record it few times and also do it without any notes. It usually takes me between three to five takes to get it right. I try not to make it perfect since I am pleased with good enough. I will wait to get some concrete feedback before making any more changes. I am happy to make it public on YouTube.
Final Long Speech, Version 1.0
After few rehearsals, I recorded a version that I was satisfied with, which I call Version 1.0.
After I got a review from peers and live review on Speech Talk Live, I re-purposed it into a short speech, less than three minutes.
After few rehearsals to make sure that it was less than three minutes, I was ready to record my short speech.
Final Short Speech, Version 1.0
I recorded my short speech that was initially over 4 minutes. Through tweaking it, I reduced it to less than three minutes. This short version 1.0 I call my "any" speech since I can use it with anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Thus far I have only tried this on immediate family members, but I feel confident to try this with others.
After you try it with few people, you need to reflect and see how you can make it better. You have to view your speech as if it is your product. You want to improve it based on any constructive feedback that you receive. But if you got this far, then you probably are in good shape and don't need to make any major changes. You have to keep using it.
How to use the short version?
You can use this with anyone, anytime, anywhere. This is your informal speech that you can deliver one-on-one basis or in a small group. You must keep it less than three minutes. After you delver this, you have to get into a listen mode. You did your saying; it is time to let the other person talk. If a person wants to know more about your short speech, refer them to your blog or the long speech. This way you are not wasting your time and can later follow-up with the person.
I think this is also a great way to network since very few people ever follow-up when they are networking. When I use this approach it is very effective. In fact, I used this with my physical therapist (who owns the place also) and sent him a link to the blog I wrote titled, "Who can you turn to for your medical needs?". He was so impressed that he told everyone at his therapy center about it. Now his staff and other patients think I am some kind of a big shot writer. I am not but I don't think I need to volunteer that info since I worked hard on that blog.
Another reason you don't want to go more than two to three minutes since you will come across as mansplaining and that will not result in connection. Mansplaining can easily happen if you are not careful since you know a lot about the topic. You need to remember that the other person or people you are talking to don't know and may not even care. Most people are usually interested in themselves. You want to use your speech to get them talking. You already know how you feel about the topic since you have already given a lot of thought to this topic.
You don't need a blog, but I think it is a very good way to organize your thoughts and later you can spread the message on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and other sites that have a lot of readers. Also there are some people who prefer reading it and makes you come across as an thought leader since you wrote about a topic. They will take you more seriously if you have a well written piece that has links to sources that you used to write the piece. I usually start with a blog since it makes it easier for me to turn it into a speech. You will still be writing and tweaking your speech, so you might as well start with a blog. For those who don't like to write, you don't have to. Some people don't like to write and prefer recording their speech and then transcribe it into text that they can later edit.
Why do you need a long version of a speech?
The long version is very important even if you never give this speech. This is what you use to send to the person you connected with. For some video is a preferred way of getting their information. Also, it looks more formal since you spent time recording it. Furthermore, you can easily show how you feel better since this is the next best thing to seeing you give it live to an audience. I think it is a very effective way to get the other person to take time and get more information. You are forcing him to respond and he or she will be appreciative of your doing this.
You need three things to connect: short video that you can use, a long video that you can point to and a blog for someone who likes to read.
Why use the PFOS method?
You can use any method that works for you, but you do need short speeches that can help you achieve your goal. The main goal when you are talking to an individual or people is to connect. This should be your only goal. You can't control whether you will connect. And if you do, whether it will lead to a friendship, relationship or business. That is a byproduct of good connection.
But one thing you do have control over is whether you are going to create a good experience having a conversation with you. People crave mindful conversation instead of mindless conversation. The right environment for a mindful conversation has to have three components: sufficient time, lack of distraction, interest in people, fewer people and ability to keep attention a for couple of minutes.
If these conditions do not exist then, you want to be in a listen mode and see if an opportunity exist for you to have a mindful conversation. But note, people are always looking for someone to excite their brain with something that will make them smart.
Public speaking is work in progress since there is always a room for improvement. Doing it on your own by taking a free course offered by Coursera called "Introduction to Public Speaking" is a great way to learn. The content and the instructor (Dr. Matt McGarrity of University of Washington) are excellent. The problem that I have seen with this course being a mentor is that very few people finish this course. It is not that the content is difficult, but that crafting and recording speech is time consuming, especially if you are not new to this. I have estimated that to doa good job with this course will require one spending close to 100 hours.
But even if you finish this course, you still have to keep doing it. I took this course four times and I have recorded number of speeches, but it was hard to tell how much improvement I was making. Until I started experimenting with the PFOS method, other approaches were ineffective and not long lasting.
Joining Toastmasters is another good way to improve your public speaking, but it all depends on how good the club is. I belonged to one that was excellent and I learned a lot and another one which was not well attended and I did not learn that much. Also, the speeches you give for Toastmasters are very general and not that helpful outside the Toastmasters setting. The cost is dependent on the club but it usually includes dues and course material.
For those who taken an instructor-led courses, these can be quite expensive. It can range from $1800 for a two-day course and can go up to $8000 for a three-day course with one-on-one coaching and recording a professional quality video by experts. I have taken few of these courses and I did not find them very helpful since public speaking is hard to learn in a cram course. The only way to learn public speaking is by doing it often. Unless you are willing to invest money on your own or work for a company that is willing to send you to one of these classes, it is not very practical for many of us who are on a budget.
You need something that is free and effective. I believe the PFOS method can be learned by anyone if you are willing to spend a little time and willing to experiment. I use it and I know it works. I have provided an example so you can see how you too can also use this method and start doing it and start connecting..
You want to connect because you know how important is to connect with people both socially and professionally. If you have any other motivations, then it is not going to work. You will come across as inauthentic, and others will also see right through you. Why waste time trying to fake it? Be genuine and you don't have to waste time being a fake.
PFOS is a good method since it will make you have meaningful conversations with one or many. People want to have meaningful conversations but it is getting harder to have these type of conversations. By meaningful conversation, your objective is to share something that makes the other person smarter by having a conversation with you. If you do this, you will connect. This method will help you speak better since you will know quickly whether you are connecting or not. You can use the feedback to make changes and keep making improvements. This is quite easy and anyone can do it. Now you know have how to be successful in social situations and at work. But don't forget the mints. You still need them because you don't want to dazzle them with your speech and lose them because of bad breath. Give it a try.