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Vince Stevenson

The College of Public Speaking

Education Director

Read more about Vince Stevenson

Blog: How to make your verbal communications sticky

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How do we make new communication sticky?

The answer is well known but not particularly well implemented.  The answer is consistent practice.
 
I work in the field of communication – verbal communication. Public speaking and presentation skills courses are highly effective but most attendees find it hard to follow up regularly.
 
This means that most speeches or presentations at work are high pressure – and it’s often all or nothing. That’s tough on the individual, especially when you’re a nervous or novice speaker.
 
Yes, there are speakers’ clubs like Toastmasters and debating clubs like the English-Speaking Union and the Central London Debating Society and these are highly valued.
 
Speakers’ clubs
 
But what happens when your client-facing consultants work 12-14 hours per day either on or off site? What happens when your senior executives have heavy schedules weeks in advance?
 
A popular alternative is to have a speakers’ club (organised in-house by the L&D department and facilitated by a professional speaker). Making speeches and short presentations at lunch time or evening sessions when the pressure is off allows individuals to develop at their own pace. 
 
Feedback is always objective, constructive and supportive. As this is a workshop experience, all attendees sign up to the contract that all activities and outcomes (whether effective or not) remain the sole property of the group. People develop quickly in the cocoon of support and positive behaviours.
 
Having good resources like a structured training program, well equiped meeting rooms and experienced professional guidance adds value to the whole experience.
 
So the secret is practice. Talent is not enough. Talent plus persistence equals achievement. If you want to be an excellent pianist – practice. If you want to be an excellent footballer – practice. If you want to become an excellent communicator – practice.
 
The speakers’ club concept maps on well to Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation and within a few sessions evidence of improvement becomes apparent. Level 4, the results of the experience are guaranteed under the guidance of a specialist communicator.
 

Vince Stevenson is education director at the College of Public Speaking.
 

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Vince Stevenson

Education Director

Read more from Vince Stevenson
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