• June 2014

Act 2 = Mastering Public Speaking

By Hilary Blair, Head ARTiculator and Lead Coach,
and Robin A. Miller, PhD, COO/Lead Coach
Articulate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, ARTiculateRC.com

Like many professional business leaders, odds are good that you are moving into Act 2 of your career and your life. You want to speak publicly because you know that you have something important to say—something that audiences will benefit from knowing.

Clearly, this is not an ending. It’s simply the next phase.

And your timing couldn’t be better because in Act 1, you set everything up to prepare you for this big, bold step. Perhaps it was almost formulaic: College, grad school, job, family, promotion. Now you are looking at what you have done—and re-thinking, re-working, re-committing—and the possibilities abound, including having your voice heard, whether or not it is connected to your current job.

Our advice: Do it!

We meet many presenters at this juncture. Wisely, they approach a company like ARTiculate because before they embark on the journey of speaking publicly, they want to find, unearth, and create the best keynotes they can to share with the world. Or they are polishing their speaking skills to take it up a notch.

Public speaking is a powerful platform, providing a place for individuals to share their experience and ideas and leave their footprint on the world. If one person can move another person to shift their perspective on business or life, they have created a ripple effect that moves others and moves the world.

So let’s get started.

Step 1. Begin by gathering your thoughts about what you want to speak about.

  • Write down all of the topics you’d like to speak about, no matter how incomplete they may seem. Just get it all down on paper.
  • Another option is to speak your ideas into a recorder if you feel limited by the writing process.
  • Remember, the goal is to be as free and creative as you can. Don’t edit yourself or over-think how your ideas will be received. Just get them all out.

Step 2. Take a public speaking class—in person or virtually.

  • There are plenty of courses in cities around the country, and these classes are a great way to help you overcome anything that holds you back in terms of public speaking—nerves, especially.
  • Toastmasters International is a great option, for they have 292,000 members in more than 14,350 clubs in 122 countries. Odds are good there is a chapter near you!
  • Hire a speaking coach. One-on-one sessions are invaluable, and a good coach will help you create your speech, and work with you on the delivery, too.

Step 3. Practice, practice, practice, wherever you can.

  • Speak whenever you can—at work, at the clubs you belong to, and eventually to nonprofit groups that want to hear what you have to say. From here, you’ll be able to leverage your experience as a speaker and—if it’s your goal—to eventually get paid to speak.
  • Also check out the National Speakers Association, a great source for community, education, and entrepreneurial business knowledge that can help you to be successful in the speaking profession.
  • Again, we have found Toastmasters to be a fantastic option, for the goal is to give speeches regularly in front of a group of your peers. The rule of thumb here is that practice makes perfect.

Here’s to your Act 2! The curtain is rising. Take the stage and let your voice be heard. Do it!


About Hilary Blair

CEO and lead coach for Articulate: Real & Clear, Hilary Blair, MFA, with physiological guidance from Jennifer Spielman, MM, MA, CCC-SLP, is an admitted breath snob.

A presentation and speaking voice expert, Blair is a highly regarded coach and facilitator working extensively across the United States with businesses that include American Express, Janus Funds, Staples, Liberty Global, and Hunter Douglas. She uses her skills and experience as a stage, film, and voice-over actor, teacher, and voice coach to help people in a variety of positions, including entrepreneurs, CEOs, writers, and project managers.

Her coaching is informed by what is unique and authentic in the individual or group. In addition, she facilitates workshops that use improvisation to improve leadership skills, team-building, and creativity. She is on the faculty of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and has been adjunct faculty for a number of universities. An active member of Toastmasters and a board member of VASTA—the Voice and Speech Trainers Association—she holds an MFA in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a BA from Yale University.

About Robin A. Miller

Robin Miller is an energetic, motivational keynote speaker who has also spent more than 20 years in teaching, training, and coaching. Her specialty is in guiding the well-thought individual to become confidently well-spoken in settings such as interviews, meetings, and keynotes. Her clients include Coors, University of Denver, and Sterisil.

She has performed vocally and conducted numerous musical groups throughout her career, as well as taught music at Baylor University, The University of North Texas, and Texas Christian University. Her expertise in navigating customer communication derives from her experience as a customer relationship manager in the financial industry, and as a development specialist in some of Denver’s leading Level 1 trauma centers, as well as her advanced training in mediation and crucial conversations. She earned an MM in Music, a PhD from the University of North Texas in Musicology, and a Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology.

Blair and Miller acknowledge the amazing voice teachers with whom they have had the privilege of working: Chuck Jones, Rocco Dal Vera, Gary Logan, Patsy Rodenburg, Catherine Fitzmaurice, and Kristen Linklater, to name a few.

For more information, visit Articulate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, at ArticulateRC.com