Do you model your public speaking on someone else or develop your own style of speaking?

By | 17/11/2011

“Do you model your public speaking on someone else or develop your own style of speaking?”

One of the newer members at our club asked me this question and it got me thinking.

When I first joined Toastmasters circa 2006, one of the speakers I watched was Phil Heath who was delivering an advanced impromptu speech. He passed five slips to an audience member and asked the audience member to pick out a slip. He was going to be speaking on a subject impromptu. The subject that the audience member picked was on ‘caravans – load shedding.’

It was amazing the way he constructed a speech with a beginning, middle and an end. He did it all impromptu. I was inspired as were other members in the audience. I wanted to develop my speaking skills and be as good as Phil Heath. In fact, I wanted to be a Phil Heath.

The next speech I recall very clearly was Michael Clarke with his ironing board. Michael delivered this humorous speech at Leeds City Toastmasters about ironing. He came in with an ironing board and an iron. His body language, delivery and speech content were superb. It was fantastic speech. I wanted to be a Michael J Clarke.

I also recall Rick Ferguson and his first speech which was set in France. It was about how he was pick pocketed  and how he did not allow the incident to impact him negatively. The speech was very humorous and entertaining in true Rick Ferguson style. I recall watching Rick’s progress as he competed at the district level in humorous speaking competition. I wanted to be a Rick Ferguson.

As you can imagine, I could not be all three of them. I realised later and through feedback from fellow members that I had my own style. My own method of story telling. I had a voice. It was through the constant positive feedback from fellow members that I have realised that each one of us has our own strengths. Our own unique voice.

So my answer to the query ­– “Do you model your public speaking on someone else or develop your own style of speaking?” is – Learn from better speakers and develop your own style of public speaking. Believe in yourself.