Article Category: Speaker Habits

5 Habits to Achieve your Public Speaking New Year’s Resolution


Champagne GlassesWouldn’t it be wonderful if simply making a New Year’s resolution guaranteed success?

Lose weight. Pay off debt. Quit smoking.

Easy, right? No, not really.

Most resolutions fail because they are wishes, not goals. Often, the best way to achieve a long-term goal is to focus on the supporting habits. For example:

ResolutionSupporting Habits
Lose weightimprove nutrition, drink water, exercise regularly, get consistent sleep
Pay off debtuse cash instead of credit, supplement your income, “pay yourself first”
Quit smokinguse “the patch”, chew gum, reduce stress, find a buddy

By focusing on the supporting habits (and keeping the end goal in mind, of course), we put ourselves in an excellent position to succeed. The same strategy applies to all other New Year’s resolutions, including another popular one: becoming a better public speaker.

Becoming a better speaker is not going to happen quickly and it is not going to happen without dedication and hard work. Nobody can master the 25 skills every public speaker should have after just one speech. To put yourself in the best position to succeed, develop the public speaking habits which give you the best chance of success.

For general advice, check out 14 Tips For Resolutions That Stick in the New Year. For your public speaking resolutions, these five habits will bring you to your goal:

Habit #1: Join Toastmasters.

The cost is minimal, and is one of the best ways to invest in yourself. If you are not already a member of the world’s leading communication and leadership organization, then look up a club in your area and join today. Toastmasters provides a supportive environment in which you will conquer your public speaking fears, develop your presentation skills, and become an effective communicator.

As a bonus, sticking to this habit will help you stick to the other four habits on this New Year’s Resolutions list for public speaking.

Habit #2: Practice. Practice. Practice.

Integrate public speaking into your daily and weekly routines. Toastmasters is once a week, but speaking more often is better. Actively seek opportunities to speak. Chair a meeting. Conduct a seminar. Teach a course. Emcee an event. Speak up at your next volunteer organization meeting. Introduce another speaker. Whether you speak for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, consistent practice will grow your skills over time.

Habit #3: Study great speakers.

Seriously. Study them. Learn from the video critiques on this blog. Watch the many excellent TED presenters. Search YouTube. Take notes the next time you are listening to a speaker. Emulate their strengths. Avoid their mistakes.

Habit #4: Study yourself too.

Many people shy away from recording themselves while speaking, but there is no better form of feedback. You can use a digital voice recorder or a video camera (or a camera phone, or …). Watch and listen with an objective view.

Seek out feedback from others to help recognize your strengths and weaknesses, which leads me to the fifth supporting habit…

Habit #5: Find/Hire a public speaking coach/mentor/buddy.

Build a relationship with a public speaker who you admire. Ask them for advice. Find someone else who shares your goal, and work together with them to improve your speaking skills. The buddy system works for exercising, it works for quitting smoking, and it works for public speaking too. Make it a regular ritual.

To accelerate your growth, hire a coach! Hire me. Hire Lisa Braithwaite. Hire Joan Curtis. Hire Rich Hopkins. Hire one of thousands of speech coaches to help you achieve your goal of becoming a great presenter. Hiring a coach won’t eliminate the need for hard work, but one-on-one coaching is an excellent way to elevate your skills and discover your unique voice.

Let 2008 be the year that you become a great public speaker, a skill which helps you achieve your other resolutions too.

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Comments icon6 Comments

  1. Hey Andrew – thanks for the recommendation, and great tips overall! The point about developing supporting habits is an especially good one. It’s not enough to say, “I’m going to lose ten pounds.” Without understanding the necessary supporting lifestyle changes – all of them – nothing happens.

  2. Bronwyn says:

    Hi Andrew,

    What a good idea. I wonder how many thousands of people around the world made a resolution to improve their public speaking skills…And this post will be a start. When yu wrote “Join Toastmasters”, did you think about writing “Join a public speaking organisation” and reject it?

    1. Andrew Dlugan says:

      Bronwyn:

      I originally wrote “Take a public speaking course,” but then dropped that for two reasons:

      • Cost: Toastmasters is typically less expensive, and thus offers a low barrier to entry. (Toastmasters dues are generally much less for six months than most 10-week public speaking classes.)
      • Habit-forming: Becoming a better speaker is a long process, and long-term membership in Toastmasters helps members make public speaking improvement a habit.

      Certainly, if other public speaking organizations offer these benefits, then joining them would be a great start to achieve new year’s public speaking resolutions.

      Are you aware of any specific organizations that I can list?

  3. TJ Walker says:

    Great points! Most business colleagues won’t really care if you lose 10 pounds, but they will definitely be impressed and feel a benefit of you learn how to imporve your speaking skills in the New Year.

    1. Andrew Dlugan says:

      Very true, TJ. A couple years ago, I lost about 40 pounds, and only my work “friends” noticed. But when I started demonstrating public speaking skills doing lunch-time seminars, I got much more attention.

  4. Patricia Cotton says:

    Excellent! Thank you!!

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