Safety Motivational Speakers Ask, Public Speaking, Is It A Skill Or A Gift?
Safety motivational speakers like me have had people tell me how gifted I am as a safety speaker. Have you ever had someone say you are gifted at something? It is a nice compliment, however it conveys the belief that speaking well in public is something you were born with and not something you learn or can develop. The challenge with that belief is if you weren’t blessed with the gift of public speaking you are stuck. I gave some thought to this belief and asked myself, “Is my talent learned or inherited?”
To answer this question I looked for when and where I might have learned the skill of being an effective safety speaker. I’m sure I learned some great story telling skills from my dad. You don’t remember much of the first 5 years of your life, however if you want to see how your parents interacted with you, watch how they interact with your children. I watched my mom and dad sit with my kids for hours telling them stories. My son and daughter loved hearing them and would ask them to tell the stories over and over again. I suspect in the early days of television in the 1950’s they did much the same for me. For my younger readers you might find it hard to believe but even in a major market like Los Angeles there were only three channels to watch.
I have taught many safety motivational speakers one of the secrets to being a good story teller. If you want to be a great story teller, watch and listen to as many great story tellers as you can. Many skills that are perceived as talents or gifts were learned unconsciously by watching a real expert. It’s like the skill of reading and vocabulary, the more books you read the faster your reading skills become and your vocabulary continues to grow.
Beyond my early years I attribute many of my speaking skills to the Boy Scouts. I remember sitting around a small troop campfire as the older scouts and leaders told stories and jokes. I loved the reactions they elicited from me and the other scouts. I realized this is how I learned these skills when I sat at a similar campfire as a Scoutmaster. I watched a young scout attempt to tell his first joke. He gave it his best but he must have forgotten a key part or the punchline, because no one understood the joke. The older scouts and I tried to fill in the missing piece but nothing worked. We all tried to help him and I’m sure it was a good experience for him because he became better and better over time.
I can imagine myself taking that first step and enjoying the response. I’m sure I kept working at it because before long I was leading our troop campfires.
From there, I graduated to leading District Camporee campfires with an audience of between 350 to 500 scouts, without a public address system. Believe me you learn two key lessons. First, project your voice and second, never lose the attention of your audience or it’s over.
About this time I began competitive speech and debate in high school. One more example of how you can learn these skills. Our teacher and coach, Mr. Ox, had come from another high school, which always took top honors at any speech meet. Within a year, at our school we competed with and beat his old team. He was clearly able to teach us these winning skills.
As an adult, I watched some top motivational speakers at the National Speakers Association and learned all they could teach. I attended every safety motivational speakers presentation at any safety conference. I watched and listened to their style and techniques. For about three years, I worked as a volunteer staff person for motivational speaker Tony Robbins. He personally mentored me on several of my skills. Watching and listening to him for hundreds of hours, taught me many skills.
I also learned the value of asking your mentors what they studied and read to build their skills. I would then read what they read.
Whenever I watch or listen to any speaker, be it a seasoned professional or a first time employee giving their first safety minute, I look and listen for anything I can learn.
For many years, I used to believe my powerful voice and ability to project were actual gifts until I met a physician who was a voice specialist. He and his staff analyzed my breathing and speaking and informed me I was doing most of it properly. Their staff taught me a few tips and improved my skills. They told me stories of people they worked with who started out with a weak voice and became very strong. I can assure you, between voice coaches and organizations such as Toastmasters International you too could learn the skills of projection.
For safety motivational speakers as well as everyone the secret is to know the balance between doing your best and always improving. One of the biggest challenges for safety speakers and writers is to put their work to use. Waiting until you or your material is perfect is a dangerous trap. The second biggest trap is to think you have achieved success and stop improving. I have always been committed to constant improvement. I ask myself how I could be better. The best way to become a better public speaker is to speak in public.
Create a safety talk and put it to work. Each time you present it, you and the content will improve. If you want to accelerate your progress use the video on your smart phone and record your speech. Watch the recording and take notes. Use what you have learned from your own observations and improve.
You will quickly realize public speaking is a skill you can develop and before you know it people will say you are gifted. Have fun becoming the effective safety speaker your audience needs you to be.
Solutions For Your Safety Challenges
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Until next week,
I’ll be, “Watching Out For Everyone’s Safety™”
© 2017 John Drebinger Presentations
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