It doesn’t really matter if you are a funeral director, a tow truck driver, a cosmetician or even an accountant, the same rules apply to becoming an engaging speaker.
The first two caveats are likely that you have to something worthwhile talking about and secondly you need an audience i.e. somebody who is interested or could benefit from your message.
The secret to becoming an engaging speaker is to be confident in your speaking. Darren Lacroix, the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, often says that the secret to becoming confident in your speaking is “stagetime, stagetime, stagetime” which can also be interpreted as “practice, practice, practice!”
Any local Toastmasters club will give you ample opportunities to hone your speaking skills and in turn increase your self-confidence. Fellow club members will provide constructive feedback that will help hone your skills. As a 22 year member of Toastmasters, so far, I have certainly benefitted from the opportunities that my club membership has provided. I have also accepted many speaking opportunities out in the public that also continue to help me hone my speaking skills.
Let’s focus on the how to become more engaging aspect of the question. Each and every one of us has unique skills and experiences. The stories that we tell at family gatherings, the stories that we share at work, the ones that we learned an important lesson from are all gems. People enjoy hearing a good story. I would suggest becoming a collector of your personal stories. Create a journal of your stories. These are great resources for when you want to deliver a long presentation. Your story should be tied into a specific learning point. Rule of thumb when using a story in your speech: tell a story, make a point, tell another story, make another point. The stories become the backbone for the points you want to make. Your audience may not actually remember the point that you made but they may very well remember how they felt about your story.
Another secret to being an engaging speaker is to use humour in your presentation. Self-deprecating humour is recommended as it draws attention to you, makes you feel more human to the audience and it doesn’t put shame or undue focus or criticism on someone else. You don’t want to alienate your audience.
Leverage what you know. As an accountant, it sets up a series of stereotypical thinking in your audience. Example: 1) Accountants are all shy introverts 2) Accountants are boring 3) Accountants have no sense of humour. I believe that when an individual is introduced as an accountant, many people will have these preconceived views of what an accountant is. This can be great material for your presentations, especially in your opening comments.
Last year I facilitated a power networking training session for about 50 or so accountants. I leveraged the stereotypical thinking mentioned above. Yes, most in the room were actually shy introverts, many extremely shy. Some could tell jokes … well marginally. However, when watching 50 accountants strutting around the room as “funky” chickens, it is truly a magical sight.
Everyone likes to have fun. As your self-confidence increases and your speaking skills increase, you will truly be in position to be engaging to your audience. If you have fun, your audience will have fun.
To coin a phrase from a fellow Toastmasters District Governor, “have some serious fun!”
Seriously, have some fun with becoming an engaging speaker and a writer and a story teller and a presenter …
For further discussion on public speaking, speech development, communication skills and Toastmasters, visit the Live For Excellence Book Store for the following publications:
Blow Your Own Horn!: Personal Branding for Business Professionals
Power Networking For Shy People: How to Network Like a Pro
The Power of Persuasion: Mastering the Art of Influence
The Power of Promotion: Online Marketing For Toastmasters Club Growth
The Savvy Emcee: How to be a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies
Working With Words: Adding Life to Your Oral Presentations
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.