This week I will be traveling to Houston for the Texas Society of Architects’s 75th annual convention and design expo. I will be presenting on Friday morning and speaking on how to succeed in architecture. Will I see you there?
Persuing my mission to spread the message of Entrepreneur Architect and for our community of small firm architects becoming an influential force in the profession, I have been speaking at events throughout the nation.
It has not been easy. I am inherently an introvert and have been afraid to speak in front of an audience other than my immediate family since I was a child. Filled with fear of the unexpected and blessed with an overactive imagination, speaking in public was never a possibility in my mind.
Much changed when in 1989 I moved to Rhode Island and entered the School of Architecture at Roger Williams University (which was still Roger Williams College at that early date.) I was on my own and my future success depended on my own actions. The decisions I made during that period of time would determine the path I would travel from that point forward.
During that first year I quickly learned that much of success in architecture was the result of proper communication. Our design skills were important, but if our decisions were not clearly communicated to the design jury during review our crit would not be a success. We needed to quickly learn how to present our projects, influence our judges and defend our decisions. I had to overcome my fears and learn how to speak with confidence.
Every time I step on a stage the fear is still with me, but I have learned to overcome the obstacles and present with professionalism.
When, on the podcast, I spoke about architecture students finding their first job in architecture with my friends at Edward Rowse Architects, one of the to recommendations for students was learn to speak in public. A well mannered, well spoken candidate is much more attractive to employers than one who is reserved and full of fear. It’s critical for students and professionals alike to learn how to present their case with confidence.
So how do we get better and learn to overcome the fear? Practice. Practice. Practice.
As I proceed with my speaking opportunities, I too will be seeking for ways to improve. I have much to learn in order to reach the level of events I seek and enjoy the opportunities required to make Entrepreneur Architect the influential force it is destined to be.
The art of public speaking is not only useful for event speakers. Every architect will benefit from the skills required to stand before others and clearly communicate their ideas. There are many organizations that provide training for speakers such as Dynamic Communications (creators of the SCORRE and Launch Conferences) and Toastmasters International. If you are interested in taking your speaking to the next level, you may want to enroll with one of these training programs. There are more than 14,000 Toastmasters clubs throughout the world. To find one near you, click here.
From Toastmasters.org, here are ten tips for speaking in public.
1. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
3. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
5. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
6. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
7. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.
8. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
9. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
10. Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need in a safe and friendly environment.
What are your thoughts on public speaking? What are some ways we can use these skills to help promote our work, our firms or our profession?
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