Back in the 1980s, I trained legal secretaries to use that newfangled machine, the Personal Computer. (Before that, if you wanted to type something, you used a typewriter, or a “dedicated” Wang word processor; a machine that didn’t do anything else.)
I helped design, and taught, a 3-day course that hundreds of women (they were all women) took in groups of 6. It was fun (at least for me!), effective, and highly standardized, with each group doing the same things in the same order. At the end of Day 3, they were either pros on Word Perfect, or they weren’t.
That was the opposite of speaker coaching. And I mention this because, lately, lots of people have been calling to ask me, “How long does public speaking training take?”
If You’ve Got the Time, I’ve Got the Coaching
The answer is, of course, “It depends.” It depends on a host of factors, like:
- Who you are,
- What you’re trying to accomplish,
- How much you practice,
- How often you speak,
- What level you’re aiming for,
- What it’s worth to you,
…and myriad other things, including your learning style, your self-image, and whether or not you have relevant experience (as an athlete, say, or in theater or music).
Public Speaking is All About You
If you think about it, this makes sense. Using a new machine, or even a sophisticated new program, requires that you know its rules, its protocols, its operations.
Becoming a skillful public speaker requires that you know your own; and that’s a much more complex job, because you’re more complex than any machine.
That’s why public speaking challenges you in a way that most other tasks do not. Even if you hide behind the podium (or try to “hide” behind your PowerPoint!), you are, as a public speaker, literally on your own; totally reliant on your own resources to create the positive outcome you want.
This fact quickly sends you back to basics. In fact, short of sex, it’s hard to think of another activity that so quickly strips you down to the essence of who, what, why you are. But unlike with sex, you get to experience that in public.
How long does it take to prepare for this? I don’t have a clue! Let’s talk about it.
Photo by Creative Commons Member Kit