Improving your public speaking and presentation skills is a lot like learning to ride a bike or learning to drive a car. You can’t improve your confidence or ability to speak in public by reading books alone.I have no issue with any of the public speaking books that I’ve read, or the education CD’s I’ve listened to. I still actively grab any book or educational resource on public speaking and presentation skills training to read or listen to. What I always do though is take something I’ve read or heard and I apply it to my next speech or presentation.
Without taking the lesson from the page and trying it in front of a living and breathing audience you don’t know how well the lesson will work with your style. On paper I’ve read many “great” ideas, however when I’ve tried them they didn’t work as well with my delivery style, while others have been better than I would have expected. But without the practical application I’d never know which ones work and which ones won’t.
When you start to learn to ride a bike things can get a bit wobbly and you may fall a couple of times , but eventually things settle and you start to rde smoothly. When the stakes are raised, such as learning to drive a car, you have someone sit beside you to guide you with their experience as you tentatively venture onto the road so you avoid a painful accident. Improving your presentation skills is much the same, if the stakes are low enough you can read the books or listen to the CD’s until you, and endure a few wobbles along the way. But, if the stakes are higher you will want to have someone sitting next to you with the benefit of experience so you don’t have any painful crashes.