I don’t think I’m a religious person.
However, I remember attending a Christian crusade by evangelist Leighton Ford.
Leighton Ford was a Presbyterian Minister famous for his stadium tours spreading the Christian gospel with long and powerful sermons.
The crusade I went to was in Perth at Perry Lakes Stadium in 1968. I was eleven years old.
My parents were Christians and had taken my brother and me to this event, attended by thousands. I don’t recall being impressed by the speakers, but how the audience responded affected me. Almost all of them listened to the sermon in silence and agreement.
Near the end of the evening, audience members were beckoned to move to the front of the stage, to hold their arms in the air, to surrender to something or someone. Eyes closed, smiles on their faces, all beaming. As though in a trance.
My mother was one of the crowd that surrendered.
My father was too stoically stern to display that sort of emotion, but I sense he, too, was moved by whatever was in the air.
And that’s when my fascination with speaking, with presenting to inform and persuade, with motivating others through powerful words, all began.
I’ve been listening and analysing speakers in many different circumstances. From an early age, I entered speaking competitions, seeking to copy the ways of a super speaker.
Later in life, I constantly put myself in positions to speak to audiences at conferences and gatherings. It is no wonder I became a teacher and then later a trainer, and later again a manager of teams that needed to be motivated and inspired.
I joined Toastmasters to further my skills.
There are many tips to share to become a super speaker. But the biggest is to practice speaking to an audience at every possible opportunity. No matter that you hesitate, stumble, or forget your lines. No one is concerned with that. Every person in the audience is thankful that it’s not them in front of the audience.
There is nothing like getting those runs on the board, miles in the legs, performances under the belt – whatever metaphor you want to use – as you get closer each day to becoming a Super Speaker.
It will happen sooner than you think.