Want to know a terrible goal? "Becoming a better speaker"
Horrible I tell ya. It was my very first goal when I decided to jump into public speaking. It was a sad excuse for a goal.
When you want to progress in speaking, you need momentum.
And you can’t get momentum by having broad goals. You can definitely decide that you want to be a “better speaker” as an overall goal, but if you break it down into small razor sharp goals, you’ll sharpen the blade much faster.
For instance, since it’s crucial to have a practice ground for speaking in front of real people, you’ll want to set mini-goals for each speaking opportunity that comes your way.
One other thing about these goals: don’t just mentally verbalize them. Write them down and bring the paper with you to your practice ground—this is a crucial step.
Today I’ll give you examples of mini-goals you can set once you become part of a “speaking” group, and also ones you can set in your everyday life. With these mini-goals, you'll build confidence and improve your ability to communicate with other stinky humans like yourself.
Speaking Group Goals:
I set mini-goals at an improv workshop I used to attend. The goal of “not sucking” was hard to achieve on a consistent basis, so I had to improvise.
We began most nights with a game called Freeze. It’s actually really cool...just not as cool as Arnold Schwarzenegger when he played Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin. You remember? Me neither.
Anyway, the instructor would call on 2 individuals to start a scene. He would then throw out an opening line and let the 2 people act it out.
As the scene moved along, any member in the audience could yell “FREEZE!” If that happened the 2 actors would freeze in the position they were last in. The person who yelled freeze would walk up to the stage and tap 1 of the actors to go sit down.
The new actor would take the physical position of the person that left the scene, and then get to start a new scene (usually determined by their inherited position).
Because this exercise was voluntary, it was easy to become a spectator and get a free funny show. This is exactly what I did for a couple of classes until something happened.
This one night a ton of people showed up, and I opted to skip out on Freeze like I'd been doing. What happened is I ended up only getting a SINGLE scene for the ENTIRE night (we did exercises or "scenes" after Freeze which everyone participated in). The norm was at least 3 or 4. Because there was an army of people that night, it took longer to get through scenes and ultimately we ran out of time.
That was tough to swallow; the reason I started going was to get extra stage time and to improve my ability to think on my feet.
So, I had to set some nightly mini-goals or risk wasting my time.
My first goal attempt went like this: Get up and do Freeze 2 times.
By keeping this in front of me while I sat in the audience, I knew exactly what I needed to do. There was no jerking around or forgetting my objectives because they were staring back at me from my notebook.
I jumped in quickly for my first scene and something really cool happened. I ended up participating for 3 more Freeze scenes before finally being tagged out! Now that was a nice payoff!
This turned into a problem for my night’s goal, though.
My lizard brain tried to convince me that my goal for the night was accomplished. Technically, getting up there 2 times would be just 2 scenes. I had 4. All done then, right?
Not quite. I was serious when I set that goal. I needed to get up there twice. Meaning, off my ass and to the stage—times 2.
I didn’t want to break my original goal (or the original intent of the goal) and leave any room for the internal judge to criticize me. You can’t cheat yourself without your judge condemning you to hell. Don’t even try it, not worth the guilt.
I got up there a second time and got 2 additional scenes before being tapped out. A total of 7 scenes in just the warm-up exercise. Not bad.
Speaking Group Goals #2:
Ever thought about joining a Toastmasters club?
Whether you’re brand new or an experienced speaker, you should join one. It’s a communications orgy, and the end result is you becoming a better speaker. Besides, it’s a good practice ground because public speaking is a muscle that can wither away and die if you don't use it.
Within each club, there are multiple speaking opportunities available to you, which makes it a PERFECT place to set these goals.
Here are some examples of speaking roles in a Toastmasters club:
- Toastmaster (host of the meeting)
- Prepared Speaker (at each meeting 2-4 speakers get a chance to deliver a speech that typically ranges from 5 to 7 minutes)
- Table Topics Master (calls on various victims to deliver impromptu speeches)
- Table Topics Speaker (victim)
- General Evaluator (evaluates the meeting as a whole)
- Evaluator (evaluates a prepared speaker while trying to stay friends)
- Timer (times the various speaking roles)
- Ah Counter / Grammarian (grammar and filler word Nazi)
So many to choose from. No excuse not to.
Set a goal to run through all the various roles, and sign up for one each time you show up to a meeting. I remember feeling as guilty as a convicted felon when I’d attend a meeting without getting an opportunity to speak.
To increase your goal-setting mentality, you can set even narrower goals. That would be like mini-mini-goals.
Some examples include being a speech evaluator, but without using your precious written notes. Or, during a prepared speech, why not set a mini-goal of straying away from what you’ve prepared in order to do some impromptu instead? How about volunteering last minute to do an impromptu speech?
You can do a role and then volunteer to do a Table Topics, too! There are so many different variations of setting mini-goals.
The end result is the same for them all: You grow
Everyday Life Goals:
You can set daily mini-goals in the form of random communication and confidence-building goals.
Think work. Going out to lunch. Running errands. During your Shake Weight workout. ANYWHERE, just as long as there are people to interact with.
How many people can you look in the eye and give a full-tooth smile? Set a mini-goal and meet it. How many people can you ask a question? “Hi, my name is…” Practice introducing yourself. Or better yet, go up to a group of people and ask a question instead! Feel free to interrupt their conversation—it's for a great cause.
Not only will you be improving your confidence and communication skills, you might even make someone else happy, too. How often does someone go out of their way to say “hi” or give you a sincere smile? It’s rarer than Pokemon Go players with jobs.
In case the thought of doing this makes you cringe, remember, this doesn't mean you'll be a creeper. Not at all. It's for a good cause, remember? A good state of mind to have when performing these goals is this: Life's just a game
In other words, have fun with it and get out of your comfort zone.
Wrapping it up...
You can drift across the empty sea with a broad and distant goal. Better than no goal I suppose. Maybe you'll get somewhere, but, by setting focused mini-goals, you can't help but reach your destination.
Don't think "Well, I'm not part of those groups and Pokemon Go prevents me from having an everyday life, so these don't apply to me." Use them to pull ideas from and adapt them to your situation!
Set those mini-goals. Commit to doing them and keep them in front of your face. Get the growth and you'll truly become a "better speaker."
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About this guy...
Howdy! My name is Matt Kramer and I used to suffer excruciating death when speaking in front of a group, now I LOVE it. Overcoming this fear has changed my life and it can change yours, too. My focus is to help you overcome the fear of public speaking so you can build the confidence to go after what you want in life.
Great tips once again! Perhaps you should start a blog or something.
I often tell myself, “Deadlines are lifelines” — and they always involve min-goals, though I’ve never seen them that way before now. And you’re continuing to entice me into joining a ToastMasters group (I went to one years ago, long before I ever got into presentation coaching — then never went back cuz I was too chicken) . . . .
Lastly, one of my favorite memories from college was watching a group of colleagues play Freeze. Hilarious!
Thanks Bill. A BLOG??? Now that’s an idea! 🙂
T.M. is a good place to be. You might even run into people that need a coach.
Freeze can escalate real fast as I’m sure you know lol.