When someone says they are a singer what do they mean?
Do they sing in the shower? Perform on stage six nights a week? Or, do they just get lots of applause on Karaoke night at their favorite hangout?
What if they said they were a trapeze artist? Are we talking Cirque du Soleil or an alternative to circuit training at the local gym?
What sets professional performers apart from everyone else?
It’s not passion, but practice. And not just any practice will do.
Becoming a master of your craft may take months or even years. Achieving and maintaining excellence requires daily attention.
Sure, practicing your speaking skills before an interview, presentation or toast at your best friend’s wedding is a good idea. But if you want to own the stage and win your audience every time you step up to speak, occasional (or occasion-driven) practice is not enough.
Like a fitness routine, consistency is the key to seeing results. Which is why, in order to be a professional public speaker, you need a lifestyle designed to nurture your skills – daily.
And, like a good fitness routine, with continued work you’ll reap continued benefits. Even though I’m a professional public speaking coach, I still try to perform several tasks each day that will improve my existing skills – and add new ones.
So, exactly what kind of practices can you add to your daily routine to live like a pro?
Here are some simple steps you can take right away to change your lifestyle and begin incorporating communications practice into your daily routine.
Situational analysis and self-reflection
Researchers, including Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, authors of Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise, have studied the behaviors and habits of top performers and found that regular and goal-focused practice is a necessary element of success. So before you start incorporating daily practice into your routine, set aside some time to assess your current skill set and create a set of specific goals for improvement. Once you’ve identified your goals, use a journal to record your progress and reflect upon your next steps.
Employ an arsenal of apps
If you don’t enjoy writing in a physical journal, then you can use an app to list your goals and track your progress. But that’s not all apps can do to help you with your daily communications training. I recommend an app called Orai which provides AI-driven coaching to help you improve your speaking skills. To work on your tone and inflection, try a singing app! Commit to using the app of your choice several times a week.
You can also use a simple video app to record your practice presentations for later review. Use the recording to help you choose between several different deliveries of the same presentation, evaluate your facial expressions, or try out new gestures.
Spend some time studying
No matter how much you know about a subject, there’s always more you can learn. Set aside several hours each week to read books or articles, watch videos, or listen to podcasts related to the art of communication. One of my favorite podcast is called Steal the Show with Michael Port. TEDx presentations will also help you step up your game. I’m also inspired by the writings of Carmine Gallo and Nancy Duarte – see reviews of Slide:ology and Resonate. Also, check out the vast amounts of quality content on Presentation Guru!
Don’t forget to study interpersonal communications, storytelling, and the art of presentation, too.
Be present and experience the moment
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be present in the moment. Yes, I know I just told you to listen to podcasts and watch videos. But now I’m telling you to put down your phone and take out those earbuds and interact with the people around you, too.
As a public speaker, you are a storyteller and a performer. Both of these characteristics can only get better if you become a student of your surroundings. Some of my best ideas come from the conversations I have with the people I meet throughout the day.
Commit to unplugging from technology and plugging into your environment at least three times a day. Have deep conversations. Actively listen to your colleagues and peers. Pay attention to conscious and unconscious feedback you get from others.
Now, are you ready to take your public speaking career to the next level? Then set some goals and start living like a pro.
Here are a few example of goals that you can strive for
- 30 minutes of communication study per day (Read, listen, watch.)
- Use an app (10-30 min per day)
- Remind yourself to stay present at least 3 times per day (Use sticky notes, put it in your calendar, pinch yourself.)
Level 1: Able to feel at ease during presentations, public speaking opportunities and networking events
The most confident person in the room is the person who can control his or her breath. Also, instead of shutting down during these opportunities to speak, be the first one to grab these opportunities whenever you can.
Level 2: Become a purposeful storyteller
You find the right story for a particular audience and for the right purpose. You incorporate storytelling in all aspects of your daily communication (1 on 1, group, conference calls, public speaking)
Level 3: Create your own speaker cookbook
Let’s face it, if you have ever made chocolate chip cookies, you’ve probably found a recipe somewhere. However, when you started making it, maybe you tweaked a few things. You started to transform the original recipe and it became yours. Do the same thing with your communication skills. Start writing down your own communication recipes for success.
Remember, professionals speakers maintain a public speaking lifestyle to happen. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but follow the tips above and it will certainly be a whole lot easier. Like everything, it’s a question of getting into the habit, doing these things as routine, and before long you realise you too have the lifestyle that you wanted.