A toast to speaking well

16:00, Nov 25 2012
Rob Julian
Distinguished Toastmaster Rob Julian encourages everyone to develop public speaking skills.

What  helps toastmaster Rob Julian with public speaking? Nerves.

Not the hands shaking, knees knocking kind, but just enough to keep him focused.

"There's a saying in Toastmasters, we don't get rid of the butterflies in your tummy - we just teach them to fly in formation," he says.

"The only times I've really screwed up is when I've gone on saying, 'Oh, this is going to be a breeze'."

The former chemistry teacher is a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest accreditation awarded to a member of the association.

He joined the Ohariu club to meet new people, rather than to get better at his job.

"There's nothing more boring than a group of teachers getting together.

"I thought, 'I'm already good at speaking because I'm a teacher'. But boy, I certainly learned a lot about that. It gave my career a huge boost."

Mr Julian recommends everyone spends time developing their public-speaking skills.

"It's a huge confidence booster, being able to get up under any conditions and speak to any number of people in public, virtually on any subject.

"It's very difficult to be a confident leader these days without public-speaking skills.

"You've only got to look at what's been happening in the Labour Party for that - [David] Shearer gave his first decent speech [last] weekend and a lot of the heat went off him."

Mr Julian is now a visiting lecturer at Victoria University's College of Education, where he assesses trainee teachers for their presentation skills.

"University gives very little training in public speaking, which quite annoys me.

"You're supposed to give presentations to others without any training, and it can be quite terrifying."

Mr Julian suggests people know their material inside-out, practise in front of a mirror, and then friends and relatives, and time themselves speaking. And embrace the jitters beforehand.

To join Toastmasters email Carol Mitchell at division_e@toastmasters.org.nz or Neville Isherwood at division_j@toastmasters.org.nz.

Contact Elle Hunt
Capital Day reporter
Email: elle.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @mlle_elle

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