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Friday, January 11, 2008

Six Ways to Achieve Your Resolutions Through Public Speaking

Most New Year's resolutions are about health, fitness, money management, time management and ending bad habits like smoking. And more than half of people who make resolutions have given up by summer.

However, "people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions."**

You may not explicitly make resolutions about public speaking, but here's how public speaking might enhance your 2008 resolutions.

1. Resolution: Get a better job/advance your career

Building public speaking skills can help build your career. You might wish to speak up more at work, or feel more confident when running staff meetings and delivering reports. You might want to get better at networking, develop leadership and communication skills, or provide in-house training to new employees.

Building public speaking skills, gaining confidence in your abilities and taking on new and more advanced roles at work can help you realize your goal of moving up in your field.

2. Resolution: Make more money/get out of debt

Get paid for speaking! You don't have to be a high-powered professional speaker traveling all over the world to make some cash doing it. Believe it or not, you have knowledge that people will pay for.

First, figure out what you know. What are your areas of expertise? What life experiences or stories can you share? How might you be able to help people with your knowledge? Be sure to focus on the benefits to your audience, not just the features (what you know).

Determine your target audience, and then figure out where you might find them. Where do they hang out? What do they read? What groups do they belong to? Start talking to your contacts and looking for events, trade shows, conferences, adult education programs and other venues that use paid speakers.

Finally, don't forget to re-package your materials into audio, video, e-books and other digital media that you can sell online or at the back of the room at speaking engagements. Before you know it, you'll have a nice side income from speaking.

3. Resolution: Volunteer for a local non profit

Community outreach is a critical part of a non profit's work, and because of tight budgets, the more volunteers who can provide outreach, the better!

Nonprofit organizations are always on the lookout for volunteers who make good advocates and educators and can speak clearly, concisely and passionately about the organization's mission, goals, and programs. Public speaking skills can add to your role as a volunteer, and make you a more valuable asset for just about any organization.

Most organizations provide volunteer training, so don't worry about already having expertise in the cause that you want to support. Your enthusiasm, ability to learn, and willingness to give your time are like gold to a nonprofit.

4. Resolution: Learn a new activity or hobby

What better time to take on your fear of public speaking than now? Some people want to jump out of an airplane or climb Mt. Everest, but strong public speaking skills are infinitely more practical and applicable to our lives - for most of us!

Look around your community for adult education classes in public speaking. You're also likely to find more than one Toastmaster club where you can learn basics and practice in a supportive and encouraging environment. And when you're ready to move to the next level, work on your individual issues and boost your skills big time, there's always coaching.

5. Resolution: Start your own business or grow the one you've started

An entrepreneur uses many tools to build her or his business. You want to spread the word about your company, you want to educate the community about the benefits of your product or service, you want to build a client base. One way to achieve all of these goals is through public speaking. Don't forget to include it as one of your marketing efforts.

Improving your skills will help you feel more confident when approaching buyers, negotiating with vendors, speaking to the media, dealing with your customers, talking to bankers, networking, and promoting your business in just about any setting.

6. Resolution: Lose weight and get in shape

Okay, I confess that I can't think of a way to make a connection between weight loss and public speaking. If you think of something, let me know!

When you start to notice how ingrained public speaking is in our daily lives, you realize how often you're doing it without even thinking. Why not make a *conscious* effort to improve your speaking skills and achieve some of your 2008 goals at the same time?

**Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers, by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, Matthew D. Blagys , University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4 (2002).

Lisa Braithwaite works with individuals to uncover their challenges and build their strengths in presenting themselves confidently as speakers. Find your voice with public speaking coaching! Sign up for the Presentation Pointers newsletter or a free consultation at www.coachlisab.com. Check out the 7-Week Shortcut to Public Speaking Confidence e-course and the Speak Schmeak blog.

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