August 10, 2009

Public speaking practice for the self-employed

You might have seen this post on seven ways to practice public speaking at work.

But what if you're self-employed and your office is ten feet from your bed? We don't all have regular office meetings and reports to give when we work for ourselves, so how can we take those baby steps to get started in public speaking?

Here are some of the opportunities my entrepreneurial clients have shared for practicing their public speaking. Add yours in the comments!

1. Church -- Offer to do readings, speak up more at Bible study, help teach a class.

2. Networking organizations -- Practice your professional introduction (aka "elevator speech") and introducing yourself to people. Some organizations even go around the room giving each person a chance to talk for up to 30 seconds or a minute.

3. Events -- Offer to introduce another speaker who's giving a presentation.

4. Toastmasters -- Even if you don't want to become a permanent member or get involved in competitions, try out the first ten speeches. You have a built-in supportive audience, short speeches and guidelines for what to talk about.

5. Volunteer and service organizations -- Join volunteer organizations (PTA, Rotary Club, Soroptimist, Newcomers; the list goes on!) where you can practice either a leadership role or just raising your hand in public!

You can also offer your speaking services without joining. Contact the organization and ask if they can use your expertise.

6. Your child's school -- Join a committee. There are fundraisers to put on, athletic events to organize, field trips to coordinate... Lead meetings or give reports; there are lots of ways to contribute.

7. Take a class -- Get used to asking and answering questions in a group setting. Everyone's there to learn, so raising your hand is less intimidating.

The more the merrier: Add your suggestions in the comments!

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