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    2009 All Rights Reserved. Take The Stage Now! www.TakingTheStageNow.com

    By Eric Feng

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    About The Author

    ERIC FENG, ACC, ATM-SAssociate Certified Coach, ICF

    Business Week Top 25 Young Entrepreneurs of Asia

    Division Champion for International Speech Contest 2006 & 2007

    Eric's trademark style of speaking has won him raving reviews across all audiences

    a generous dose of humor and a deeply ingrained message that never fails to inspire.

    As a celebrated Toastmaster in Singapore, Eric has won numerous national level

    speech competitions. In 2005, he won the championship title for the Division Level

    Humorous Contest in Philadelphia, United States. Two years later, he clinched the

    First Place Trophy for the International Speech Contest at Division Level. As

    acknowledgement for his speaking achievements, The Straits Times featured him as

    one of the top 25 alternate achievers of 2006. His success and achievements are also

    regularly featured in regional media like Channel News Asia, Business Week,

    Business Times, Lianhe Zaobao, News Radio 93.8 and many more.

    On top of his speaking and training engagements, Eric loves to write (and be written

    about). He has currently four books under his belt, including the most recent one The

    FAQ Book on Public Speaking which is a collaborative work between local celebrityIrene Ang and Asias Master Coach Kelvin Lim.

    Erics dream is to become the Speaker For The Living to travel around the world

    and impact peoples lives through his words and experiences. He believes that if

    everyday he can touch one persons life, be it through his words or action, he knows

    that he has done his part for humanity.

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    SPEAKING SECRET #1

    One of the fastest (and fun!) way you can grow as a speaker is to be an

    active audience. Evaluate ALL speakers that come your way, SimonCowell style! This is how you can have a clearer understanding of what

    separates a mediocre speaker from a good speaker, and a great speaker

    from a phenomenal speaker. Remember this: No matter how good or bad

    the speaker is, there is always something valuable to learn. This is soimportant that I am going to repeat it.

    No matter how good or bad the speaker is, there is always something

    valuable to learn.

    Remember all the positive things that the speaker does and try it for size.See if it works for you.

    Remember all the negative things that the speaker does and avoid it at allcosts. Sometimes, you may want to ask yourself how you can modify and

    make it effective.

    All of us - at some degree - evaluate speakers. We hear them all the time:

    "This guy is awesome!" or "Look at how he charmed the audience..." or

    "Gosh, he should not have crack this joke." etc. However these

    evaluations are not thorough enough to offer much teaching value. They

    are merely observations. In order for us to learn to be better speakers, we

    have to probe deeper.

    Question your reactions to the speakers. What the speaker do/not do to

    make us think he is awesome? How did the speaker charm you? Why do

    you think the joke was inappropriate? By asking these questions, you will

    then have a deeper understanding of the speaker's motives and alsoobjectively evaluate (as the audience) if their techniques are effective.

    I have an extremely simple way to evaluate any speaker - Use the 5W and

    H. Pay full attention to the speaker and his delivery.

    Evaluate All Speakers,Simon Cowell Style!

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    And then ask yourself the following questions:

    [WHAT]

    What did the speaker do that you like/dislike? What are the speakers'

    strengths and weaknesses? What are the speaker's strategies? What causesthe speaker to be successful (or not)?

    [HOW]

    How did these strengths/weaknesses manifest itself in the delivery? How

    effective are the speakers' strategies? How can the speaker improve? How

    can the speaker better himself?

    [WHY]

    Why did this aspect of the speech puts you off/appeals to you? Why do

    you think the speaker select this approach/style/topic?

    [WHO]

    Who is his target audience? Who will benefit from the speaker's

    speech/style?

    [WHEN]

    When was the last time you have heard a similar speech?

    [WHERE]Where in the speech did the speaker create the most impact? Where in the

    speech were you lost/mesmerized?

    Notice all the 5W and 1H can help you generate a whole list of questions?

    However there is no way you can have answers for all these questions by

    listening to the speech once (unless you have a photographic memory).

    What you can do though is to record the speech so that we can re-listen toit and uncover more learning points. Having said that I would recommend

    that you start with three questions:

    1. What did the speaker did well or badly?

    2. How can I apply the good points into my speech?

    3. How can I avoid making the same mistakes that speaker made?

    Simpler?

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    As you proceed on, you will find yourself automatically looking for our

    strengths and weaknesses in the speaker. When you become more

    comfortable, you can delve deeper and begin dissecting the speech.

    You will find yourself welcoming ALL speakers even the extremelyboring ones coz there will always be something to learn! You will find

    your growth as a speaker accelerating. You avoid mistakes committed by

    others. You get to experiment stuff that works. You have more chance to

    make new mistakes which means more room for growth! Too good to be

    true right?

    Believe it!

    And more importantly, start doing it. Speakers are everywhere. They can

    be your daily reporter, lecturer, classmate, supervisor, door salesman,telemarketer etc. The world is your classroom!

    Oh and one more thing, remember to jot down your evaluations on a

    piece of paper. You may want to start a journal or even a blog. Whatever

    it is, write them down so that you can refer to them in future when youprepare your next speech. Come to think of it, we should have some kind

    of Speakers' Idol! :)

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    SPEAKING SECRET #2

    Nothing new really. Quite frankly, this is a universal advice that you hear

    everyone giving yet I do not see many people embracing it. But if you arelooking at becoming a phenomenal speaker in the shortest amount of

    time, then mentors are indispensable. Let me first answer a couple of

    questions that you may have about these group of miracle workers called

    Mentors.

    What Is A Mentor?

    I see a mentor as an individual whom I am inspired by and has a lot to

    teach because of his or her wealth of experience. And there are a lot out

    there with thepotential to be your mentor BUT not all of them will bewilling which makes them unsuitable.

    So the challenge is to find someone whom you are comfortable with (andeven inspired by), with a whole lot of experience and is willing to teach

    you. Now that's tough but not impossible.

    Why Are Mentors Important?

    A mentor helps you avoid the mistakes that he or she has made in the

    past.

    A mentor shares with you his knowledge and wisdom so that you can be

    successful.A mentor acts as your mirror, showing you things that you are blind to or

    refuse to see.

    A mentor becomes your lighthouse when you are at your lowest.

    A mentor brings out the best in you by giving you space to grow.

    A mentor believes in you and constantly pushes you past your limits.A mentor never does the work for you but he runs alongside you.

    A mentor knows when to get out of your way so that you can soar.

    Attract Mentors ToAssist You

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    When you have a mentor that does all of the above, there is absolutely no

    way you can fail!

    Over the past two years, I have found several mentors who have helped

    me a great deal. Some stayed with me for a while and then left as theybelieved I have learnt all that I can from them. Some continued staying

    with me, guiding me and pushing me past my limits. All of them have not

    only taught me how to become a competent speaker but also how to live a

    fulfilled life. They inspired me to find my calling and help others with my

    strengths. I would not have been where I am if not for them. And for that,

    I am deeply grateful.

    So How Do You "Find" A Mentor?

    "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" - Anonymous

    If you have realized by now, you do not have to go out and seek mentors.

    They will find you when you are ready. Let me explain.

    I once asked my mentors why they were willing to mentor me but theycould not really give me a definite answer. Come to think of it, it just

    happens naturally. Say Terence for example. I met him at one of his

    public speaking seminars. He was extremely passionate about public

    speaking (and still is). He inspired me so much that I just kept getting intouch with him. I would come up with a whole list of questions and he

    will patiently answer them. I will go out and try them for size and givehim feedback. We then repeat the process. And then we start meeting up

    more often. He started sharing with me more stuff. And without me

    realizing it, Terence became my mentor! The same goes with the rest of

    my mentors. I showed up. I asked. They answered. I gave them feedback.

    And we start all over again.

    So if you ask me, it all starts with first being passionate and determined inimproving your speaking skills. Because when you are focused in getting

    better at what you do, you automatically attract people to help you. And

    the best part, they WANT to make you successful because of your desire.

    And remember, when these people come your way, do everything that

    you can to keep them by your side. Don't take them for granted!

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    I will like to leave you with a line in Paulo Coelho's bestseller - The

    Alchemist. You will find it very apt in the context of finding mentors.

    "If you want something badly enough, the entire universe will conspire

    to give you what you want!"

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    SPEAKING SECRET #3

    To start off, I will like to quote 1999 World Champion Speaker, CraigValentine:

    "Many people are looking for validation, not education."

    How true isn't it? There was once this guy came up to me to ask forcomments on his speech. In response, I complimented him and also

    pointed out a part of his speech that he could improve on. And boy was I

    in for a shock. All of a sudden, he became defensive and started justifying

    his actions for the next 15 minutes. Apparently I heard him wrong. He

    wanted me to compliment him and tell him what he wants to hear. He

    doesn't want any tips on how he can improve. If I would have realized it,I could have avoided the embarrassment.

    So how open are you to other people's comments and advice? How

    coachable are you?

    You may get the best mentor in the world who has the most incisive

    insights but if you are not willing to listen and try it for size, there is no

    way you will ever improve. The most dangerous thing that can happen to

    a speaker is when he or she becomes complacent. You will find them

    sitting on their laurels, building false sense of security from their past

    successes. They stop asking for help. They stop trying new things. Theystop becoming hungry and thirsty for new opportunities to grow. And

    soon, they stop becoming as good as they used to be... and they wonder

    why...

    When you are not coachable, you essentially shortchanged yourself. Youshut doors of opportunities to become a phenomenal speaker. And worse,

    you run the risk of becoming a mediocre speaker. Is that what you want?

    Instead, I encourage every one of you to be a sponge! Soak up everything

    that you can from everyone around you. Remember the first speaking

    secret I shared with you? Start evaluating any speaker that comes your

    way.

    Be Coachable

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    See how you can incorporate the good stuff into your speech and avoid

    all the bad stuff.

    Be willing to question the old way of doing things. Each time someone

    comes up to you to offer his or her suggestions, listen really hard becausehe or she has just given you a golden opportunity to be better at your

    craft. If you find yourself resisting, drop it and listen. Take notes if you

    want. And spend time thinking through their suggestions. See how you

    can apply them. If it works, keep it. If it doesn't, chuck it aside. And no

    matter what you do, keep moving forward!

    The next time you think you have hit your peak; stretch yourself and you

    will find yourself reaching out for a higher peak!

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    SPEAKING SECRET #4

    Over the two years, I have seen and heard my fair share of speeches that

    fell between the spectrum of "Spectacular" and "Horrendous".

    Interestingly, it is not the most spectacular or most horrendous speeches

    that leave me the deepest impression. It is the speech that is given from

    the heart that made the most impact. In my opinion, when you give a

    speech that comes from your heart - a message that you care deeply about

    - you have already won the audience over!

    In the past two days I have witnessed two speeches that were of "heart"

    quality. One of them was a speech given by Jennifer in PanoramaToastmasters. Her speech was titled "Inspiring by Example". It was a

    very simple message yet at the end of the meeting, her speech was the

    most talked about. I believe it was because she spoke from the heart.

    Right from the start of the speech, we were drawn into the life of

    grandma Florence, a lady whom she loved and respected a great deal. Her

    speech was spiced up with interesting anecdotes of her encounters withGrandma Florence. For that seven minutes, we felt as if Grandma

    Florence was right here with us...

    Then there was Dr Chris Pak. He was one of the panelists for last night'sentrepreneurial event - The Making of an Entrepreneur 2. He wasn't the

    most articulate or charismatic speaker in the panel. But I will never forget

    his message. Never ever give up! It was with conviction and fervor that

    he delivered the message. He meant every word he said, with every fiber

    in his body and every chord of tenderness in his heart...

    Jennifer and Chris are two ordinary speakers who have spoke with

    extraordinary passion and sincerity. These are the kind of speakers that

    will always leave an impression. The next time you give a speech, talk

    about something that you are passionate about or share with your

    audience some personal stories that have inspired you. You don't have tohave the coolest passion or be the greatest storyteller. As long as you

    speak from your heart, your audience will be with you all the way!

    Speak From The Heart

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    SPEAKING SECRET #5

    Ok let's be honest. There is no way you can improve your public speaking

    skills unless you get out there to speak! Just like swimming, you willnever be able to master it just by reading a book. Granted that the book

    may offer you a comprehensive guide to 101 swimming techniques or

    over 200 dos and don'ts of swimming, but you will never master

    swimming until your feet touches water. Ask any experts and coaches,they will tell you the same thing. You got to get your hands dirty beforeyou learn anything. This applies to any skills you want to pick up too.

    Stage time does not necessarily refer to hour-long speeches. It could be as

    short as a three min speech. In this case, frequency is much more

    important that the quantity of time you have to speak. I will encourageyou to be creative when it comes to securing stage time for yourself.

    Joining the Toastmasters is one way since you will have a chance to

    speak at least twice a month. You can also look for other speakingopportunities - however short - in your school, workplace or even in your

    private organization. It can come in form of hosting for a dinner/meeting

    or conduct business presentations to your clients.

    In this entry, I will share with you two ways you can maximize your stage

    time.

    1. Change Your Mindset

    A lot of us complain about giving speeches for many reasons. I used to be

    one of them. In the past, giving a speech means grueling hours of work

    because of my perfectionist attitude. I want to come up with a perfect

    speech, one that will wow my audience's pants away. And since I am not

    at the peak of my craft, it was excruciatingly frustrating to come up witha "perfect" speech.

    However during a conversation with my mentor, I came to realize that my

    perfectionist attitude could jeopardize my growth.

    Lots And Lots OfStage Time

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    I decided to take a step back and reevaluate my mindset towards

    preparing and giving speeches. Instead of coming up with a perfect

    speech, I aim to improve at every speech that I give i.e. to be better than

    my previous speech. This change in mindset reduced the undue pressure I

    have on myself and gave me space to grow. The change in me wasdramatic. I found myself grabbing at any opportunity to speak and the

    process of preparing a speech become much more fun. I was more

    interested in the process of coming up with a speech, rather than the

    speech itself. And naturally, I got better.

    So before you proceed on, I want you to first step back and reexamine

    your mindset towards giving a speech. If it is preventing you from

    moving forward, I urge you to change your mindset, one that will

    motivate you to get better at your craft. Because without a positive and

    constructive mindset, no amount of stage time (and self help) is going tohelp you!

    2. Set Goals

    Great! So you have change your mindset and you are all motivated tospeak. Now what?

    You got to set goals. Let's recap. Your intention is to be a better speaker

    correct? In other words, you want to get from X to Y. You have foundmotivation to get to Y. But if you have not figure out where Y is, no

    amount of motivation will get you there! Make sense? That's why youhave to set goals, particularly S.M.A.R.T goals! Specific, Measurable,

    Attainable, Realistic and Timely. In the case of giving a speech, you want

    to narrow down two or three areas that you want to improve on.

    Sometimes it could just be one area based on the feedback that you have

    gathered previously.

    Specific:Say you gave a speech last month and you have gotten some feedback.

    One particular area was in the organization of your speech. In your next

    speech, you may want to focus on giving a speech that is more organized.

    Or someone commented that you moved too much (thus causing

    distractions). Hence you may want to work on body gestures in your next

    speech. The point is you will decide what goals to set!

    However, you need to ensure that you are not overwhelmed with your

    goals. There is no way you can improve on everything within a short

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    period of time. Hence the best strategy is to see which area is the most

    important to you and then work on that particular area.

    Measurable:

    Make sure that your goals are measurable else it is impossible toobjectively evaluate if you have improved or not. And that can be very

    demoralizing. The best way to measure the change is to ask your

    audience! They are your best judges. For example you are working on

    improving the organizational structure of your speech. Go back to the

    person who has commented about your speech organization. Ask if he or

    she has seen any improvement. And if so, how did it manifest? If it

    works, good for you. Move on to the next goal. If not, try another

    approach and then ask for feedback again.

    You can also measure your performance using other variables such astiming, preparation time, confidence level or even trophies that you won.

    But here is the bottom-line: set goals that can be measured. If they aren't,

    I suspect your goals are specific enough. If that's the case, redefine your

    goal. Make sure it is specific.

    Attainable and Realistic

    I will put these two requirements today. One of the main reasons why

    goals don't work is because we set extremely unrealistic goals. Some may

    argue that we should remain optimistic but you got to be honest withyourself too. If your goal is to win the International Speech Contest and

    you have yet to make a single speech, I would encourage you to pick amore attainable goal, like giving five speeches in the next three months.

    Creating attainable goals are critical if you want to be successful. Give

    yourself the opportunity to create small wins because they fuel your

    confidence and generate momentum for you to create bigger wins!Imagine what it does to your ego and morale when you set goals that are

    hardly reachable. You will give up almost immediately when your air ofoptimism dissipates into the thin air. And trust me, it will!

    So start small. Take a look at your present state and then plan the goals

    with respect to that. Every small step counts if it takes you to your

    destination!

    Timely

    When will you accomplish your goal? Within the next week, next month,

    next year, eternity???!!! You know what I mean. We are creatures of

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    procrastination. Having specific, measurable, attainable and realistic

    goals doesn't amount to anything unless you create a time frame to

    achieve your goal. In my opinion, if you want to see significant

    improvement in your speaking skills, you got to speak at the very least

    twice a month. In fact I will suggest that you speak at least once a week ifyou are really determined to improve!

    So... have you set S.M.A.R.T goals for your upcoming speech? If no, get

    moving!

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    was my quick success that led me to avoid public speaking for a good

    five years. As the champion speaker, I was invited to speak in front of the

    entire school, which was approximately 1600 students!!! That was a

    HUUUUUGGGGEEEEEE crowd compared to 40 people - who

    happened to my friends too - during the contest itself.

    As you have guessed it, I flopped big time. I forgot almost my entire

    speech, together with my name. I stuttered through whatever lines that I

    could remember, which ended up incohesive most of the time. The

    audience was left in amazement at how I actually won the contest. For the

    next few years, I never quite succeed in public speaking, no matter how

    much work I put in.

    I later realized that I have been speaking in the shadows of my failure.

    Each time I speak, I was speaking in the shoes of the high school "me"who screwed up big time. As you can imagine, I never quite got over it.

    My realization later became a moment of liberation for me as I

    consciously recreated a new being to take on. Instead of being the high

    school "me", I took on being Wayaki, a charismatic leader in myliterature text The River Between. Every speech I gave became a

    manifestation of Wayaki. It was then I started to see improvements in my

    speeches.

    The main point of this entry is this: WHO YOU ARE SPEAKS

    LOUDER THAN WHAT YOU SAY!!!

    The next time you give a speech, I want you to try this for size. You got

    to have vivid imagination for this exercise to work. And it comes with

    practice so keep trying!

    First, pick a speaker. He or she could be someone whom you respect or

    admire a lot. Visualize everything about the speaker in your head. Thelooks. The expressions. The body gestures. The voice. The words. The

    energy. Everything. And then picture yourself becoming that speaker as

    you give your speech. You can also play around by combining traits of

    various speakers. As you gain more experience speaking, you will find

    yourself creating your own speaking style. And when that happens,

    EMBRACE IT!

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    SPEAKING SECRET #7

    Fearing public speaking is normal. Most people do. And there isabsolutely no doubt that this fear of ours is huuuuggggggeeeee, even

    astronomical and very real. But how do we handle it? We work really

    hard to fight it. We read tons of books, e-books and blogs on how to

    FIGHT our fear. We pay eye-popping, jaw-dropping and gut-wrenching

    sum of hard-earned money (pun intended!), attempting to ELIMINATEour fear. And sadly for most of us, it all amounts to nothing in the end.

    Today I will like to propose that you take The Alternate Path. This path

    doesnt even require you to fight the fear because it is too much of a

    hassle and hard work. Instead, take time to find the right angle to tackle

    the problem. With regards to public speaking, the right angle in myopinion refers to ways you can be successful right from the beginning.

    Here are some ways that worked extremely well for me.

    1. Find A Group Of Audience That Loves You From The Start.

    You can never go wrong by starting to speak in front of a group that

    wants you to succeed. And this group could be as small as just your little

    puppy or your beloved wife or even your buddies from the army! I would

    also strongly recommend you to join the Toastmasters! It is an

    organization that was set up with the sole goal of making you and me

    successful in public speaking. And from my experience, they have one ofthe best communities of people you can ever be with.

    2. Start By Taking Small Steps

    Yes. Stop trying to speak like Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill.There is a reason why they are legendary. Instead pick someone your own

    caliber first. Say your school lecturer or your CEO! If you can be half as

    boring as him or her at your first speech, consider that a big success. Go

    out and celebrate! Always give yourself a chance to win, no matter how

    small the win is. It is much easier to move forward that way. And in notime, you will find yourself joining the ranks of highly competent

    speakers!

    Set Yourself Up To Succeed

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    3. Start By Focusing On Your Strengths.

    I have mentioned this one before in my earlier post. Every speaker is

    unique. Take time to discover your strengths. Focus on them. Say you are

    extremely energetic on

    stage. Explore how you can leverage that energy on stage. If your friends

    think you are funny and not lame (thats a world of difference!), start

    studying how you can be funnier. It is painless if you focus on your

    strengths. You will also start noticing yourself improve much faster. And

    the praises you received from your friends will

    only accelerate your growth as a speaker.

    As Fred Gratzon indicated in this book:

    The right angle is always in the direction of greater ease and

    effortlessness. Note: you are NOT avoiding the job of becoming a

    successful speaker. You are merely avoiding the hard work of becoming

    one. So if you are sick and tired of working so hard with little results,take on The Alternate Path. Set yourself up for success!!!

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    SPEAKING SECRET #8

    Have you ever consider public speaking to be fun? An activity to indulgein for de-stressing purposes? Something that you can play around with

    and reap boundless of joy and happiness?

    For most people... hardly! If you recall, public speaking has been ranked

    as the number one fear, surpassing the fear of death! Who would evenassociate public speaking with fun??!! However for those who do, they

    cannot help but be a master at their craft, all thanks to their "play"

    attitude.

    Think about it. If you like a particular activity so much, doing it

    excessively will not be considered hard work at all right? In fact, you willfind every single opportunity to get back to the activity; without any

    coercion, persuasion or effort! You will be so involved in what you are

    doing that nothing else around you matters at all. It is as if time went on a

    standstill...

    Unless you enjoy what you are doing, you will never be able to fully

    maximize your potential. At best, you will just be a good speaker because

    of all the hard work that you have put in. Imagine if you add the element

    of fun in it, there is no limit to how good you can be!

    So what has fun got to do with being successful in public speaking (or in

    anything for that matter)?

    1. Fun Is The Best Cure Against Your Arch Nemesis: Fear

    It is like a shiny amour that deflects any worries, doubts andapprehension that you may have. It blesses you with courage to step out

    of your comfort zone and try new things. It grants you freedom to be

    creative. It bestows you with immunity against failure.

    It gives you permission to laugh at yourself. When fun is in the picture,

    nothing will be too daunting for you.

    Have Loads Of Fun!

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    2. Fun Sustains You

    When you are having fun, you have essentially open up boundless of pure

    energy that pushes you towards success. There is no work involved when

    it comes to honing your public speaking skills. It is part of the fun! Anychallenges you faced become part of the game. Instead of mulling over

    how tough it is, you find yourself inventing new ways to defeat these

    challenges. In fact, the harder the better. Some people call that optimism.

    To you, it is all part of the game!

    3. Fun Brings Out The Best In You

    Having fun also allows you to walk the path of least resistance. As such

    your energies are spent exploring new ground and discovering new things

    about yourself. You do not care if you succeed or fail. It releases youfrom the pressure of having to win. What you are more concerned about

    is that you are enjoying every part of it. As long as you are moving

    forward with each step that you take, nothing else matters.

    Ironically, such attitude creates the most results. Take a look at DrRichard Feynman. He won a Nobel prize out of calculating the

    relationship between the wobble and the rotation of the plate for fun. His

    "play" attitude led him to stumble onto quantum electrodynamics! And

    then there was Einstein, Newton and all other famous scientists.

    The same happens when you are on stage too! When you are having funon stage, it creates instant connection with your audience. Fun is

    infectious and your audience cannot help but have fun too.

    Here's one way you can start having fun with public speaking - Treat It

    Like A Game!

    Here's what I want you to do for your next speech. Set up some winningcriteria i.e. what do you need to do to "win the game". It could come in

    the form of "My audience will give me a smiley face sticker at the end of

    my speech" or "I will try something new each time I speak". Pull in a few

    friends to play the game with you. They could either compete with you or

    even play judges. And what's a game without rewards?

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    Make sure you plan some enticing rewards for yourself. Invite your

    friends to pool in some of the prizes too! Increase the stake. And then

    focus on winning the game! What's there to lose?

    Notice the adrenalin rush?Notice the excitement building up?

    Notice that you aren't even concerned about your fears?

    That's what I am talking about. Treat public speaking as a game. Be

    spontaneous. Be adventurous. Most importantly, have fun with it!

    The next time you have to give a speech, let your hair out and have fun!

    Be wild and experiment new things. Even if it flops, you had fun trying

    it! I shall go against the usual advices that you hear from speech experts.

    Do NOT take your speech (or yourself) too seriously. Treat it as a gameand play your heart out!

    "Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child

    at play." Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher (535 - 475 BCE)

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    FINAL WORD

    Recently, a lot of my friends have taken an interest in improving theirpublic speaking skills. Two of them have even decided to sign up for a

    Toastmasters club in the coming week. Way to go! Like any skill, public

    speaking takes time to hone. The best advice I can give to anyone is to

    start small. You can begin by reading one public speaking related article aday or make a conscious effort to write and give a five minutes speech,

    once a month. Joining a Toastmasters club is also an excellent way to

    pace yourself in becoming a competent speaker. Bottom-line - do

    SOMETHING, no matter how small it is. Remember the race between the

    tortoise and the hare: Slow and steady wins the race! And in no time,you will see yourself growing phenomenally.

    Looking back, public speaking has changed my life dramatically

    Two years ago after watching Jim Key, 2003 International Speech

    Contest champion, inspire the audience including myself with his

    message: It is never too late to dream, I embarked on a personal questto become an accomplished speaker. That was my dream and it still is.

    Over the two years, I read almost everything I can get my hands about

    public speaking. I gave over 96 speeches and presentations (minimumtwo per week) in the last one year. And yet my journey has only begun! It

    was tough yet every step of the way was exhilarating. There was alwayssomething to learn. Needless to say, my passion in public speaking grew,

    fueling my desire to get even better.

    I hope you make use of the eight things I shared with you that fueled my

    growth as a speaker. They is no rocket science yet each of them plays an

    important role in my growth. I hope that by sharing with you what worksfor me, you will be inspired to embark on your own quest in becoming an

    accomplished speaker!