Free public-speaking class (in Sydney, via @AuthenticBen)

presenter with megaphone

The best 2 hours I’ve ever spent…

Are you serious about wanting to improve your public speaking? If so, do yourself a favour and listen to what Benjamin J Harvey has to say about it. I did that last Wednesday night, and it was probably the best 2 hours I’ve ever spent on improving my presentation skills!

What a great move that was!

Ben’s a Sydney-based entrepreneur who offers occasional free public-speaking workshops. (Wherever you live, you might also like these 5 free public-speaking courses.) As I’m in Sydney too, and his workshop happens just every few months, I took the chance to go along. What a great move that was!

Why so great? There are 3 factors:

  • Superb content

    The most important word in public speaking

    To give you just a taste of Ben’s content, he started by sharing the most important word in public speaking. You might have heard that tip before, like me, but it was still a great reminder – especially when it came in such a highly-focused session.

    He also showed us how to use the word to hook people’s attention, as well as giving us a separate technique to craft an opening story, ways to structure your whole talk, and several other content tips.

    (If you’re wondering: “You” is that vital word in public speaking. That’s according not only to Ben Harvey, but also to former world champion speaker Craig Valentine, and various authors on the subject. Saying “you” helps to keep your talk audience-focused, which keeps people more engaged because you’re talking about them – and that’s one of their favourite topics!)

  • Succinct format

    Quicker than almost any class

    As Ben’s workshop lasts just 2 hours, that’s quicker of course than almost any public-speaking class – like Toastmasters or a commercial session – or reading a book on the subject, come to think of it.

    I really liked that compact format

    Naturally, you can learn and practise only so much in 2 hours, but I really liked that compact format compared to slowly improving over months and months at Toastmasters.

  • Lots of practice (with feedback)
    The 3rd reason Ben’s workshop is a great move is that he uses a format where you get loads of practice. (He splits people into groups of 4 and you all take turns addressing the other 3 people in your group – several times throughout the evening.)

    Not only that, but for one practice you’re all given brief feedback forms, so everyone gets several anonymous written evaluations too.

I came away with a real buzz

I came away from the session with a real buzz. I think the 3 reasons above combined to make it extremely effective and positive. Plus, the session ended with a fast-paced game to improve our impromptu speaking skills.

So I highly recommend going, and I’ll encourage members at my next Toastmasters meeting to attend too.

I’m already looking forward to the next session, for another burst of intense practice! For details of the next workshop when they become available, head to Ben’s workshop page.

This week (in October 2013), I went to another free public-speaking session by Ben Harvey’s organisation, but didn’t find it nearly as helpful as my previous visit. It consisted almost entirely of practising, with very few tips being shared. I still found it worthwhile, although rather disappointing compared to my 1st visit.

So if you go in future, bear in mind that it might differ considerably from the description in this post.

Over to you

  • What breakthroughs in your public speaking have you ever had?
  • Please share your tips for workshops, books, or techniques that really helped you.

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2 thoughts on “Free public-speaking class (in Sydney, via @AuthenticBen)

  1. Ha! Ha! No tips, but did remind of a parent- teacher night where the objective was to share in 8 minutes your course outline. I thought I was on freakin’ fire until I glanced towards the back of the room where a dad was fast asleep!


    • Oops! Still, chances are there’s always going to be at least one person in any audience who’s unreachable. Hopefully the other people had all eyes on you.

      You were teaching in Japan weren’t you? Might it have been a language-barrier issue?

      Anyway, thanks for your comment Shelley.


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