One of the issues with working from a home office, as I do a great deal of the time, is “education” or “training”. I need to keep up to date. I need to learn about new things. The problem is that very few opportunities come and knock on my door. Of course, the internet is a wonderful thing, but it is like a good public library. If you like reading, you can get lost or even lose yourself in there. That’s where personal recommendation comes in.
Quite recently I found a education site called Udemy. Maybe you knew about it already, I didn’t. I decided to take a couple of courses to find out if I liked the experience: I did, and I do.
One of the courses I took was called “Performance of Speaking” by a man called Tom j Dolan (he writes it like that, so I will as well). I confess, that one of the reasons I took the course was that I was curious about how effective a course in such a subject could be as distance learning. All I can say is “it worked for me”.
I consider myself a reasonable public speaker. I am comfortable addressing a room containing tens or maybe even a hundred people. I haven’t tried addressing a stadium full yet but maybe that will come. Never-the-less I felt there was room for improvement.
Tom’s credentials are excellent and his approach is quite simple: public speaking is a practical skill. It is something which can be learned. He makes an important point: many of us are too critical of ourselves. We demand “perfection” (whatever that is). That is really an unreasonable demand we are making. Instead we should aim for improvement “Kaizen” as the Japanese would have it. Continuous improvement is a better goal than perfection. We can usually improve. The best musicians practice constantly.
There are many skills like this. We can learn the facts, we can answer questions and give the “right” answers, but to become really good at them, we have to practice. We (or at the very least, I) are creatures of habit. When we first learn a new behaviour it takes a great deal of effort. As we practice we get better at the execution of the behaviour, but not only that, we also find that we have more capacity to think about how and why we are doing it. Experience is a valuable thing.
As part of something I am doing at the moment, I need to record and then edit my own voice. Tom’s course has helped me get used to the awkwardness I felt. It hasn’t changed the content at all but it has improved the delivery and also how I feel about the delivery.