Stretch your Speaking – Introduction

This post is the first in a series about finding ways to stretch yourself when it comes to public speaking. The goal is to encourage people to explore different ways of developing their speaking skills and thus to become better speakers.

For the next posts in the series, please click here and here.

Happy New Year! We are one week into 2018 as I write this post. Are you off to a good start? How about those resolutions? Get more exercise; eat better; learn a new language; find a new job. Have you made any progress?

What about your public speaking? What would you like to accomplish in the remaining 358 days?

Whatever your public speaking goals, I’d like to give you another one:


Improving your public speaking skills is commendable. It is something that I constantly try to do. But if you only speak in one type of situation or to one type of audience or at one venue, there is a risk that you will become comfortable and complacent. And when that happens, personal growth tends to stagnate.

If you only present to your department colleagues, if you only give speeches at your Toastmasters club, you may well become adept at those types of speaking engagements. But if you never leave your comfort zone, how do you expect to reach your potential?

Why not stretch your speaking skills this year by actively seeking out situations or audiences that are new? That make you uncomfortable? That scare you? As I have said before, public speaking is like cross-training; the more different kinds of speaking you do, the better speaker you will become. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

In the coming days, I’ll share different ways in which you can stretch your speaking in the coming year. These are all things that I have done and will continue to do. And if you have any thoughts or experiences of your own, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or on any of the upcoming posts.

Start warming up. It’s going to be a fun year!


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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12 Responses to Stretch your Speaking – Introduction

  1. Pingback: Neale Donald Walsch on life beginning at the end of your comfort zoneManner of Speaking

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  5. Beth L Olson says:

    I have really enjoyed being interviewed because it assures that I’m answering the questions that the person listening actually wants answered. How do I make sure I hit the mark on what and how much to say when I’m speaking on my own for an hour class. The last thing I want to do is bore an audience.

  6. Great Post John.

    I have been following your blog for a while know but this prompted me to comment.

    I had this resolution for 2017 and greatly benefited by it. Even simply giving a speech in another neighboring club made me realize, how far I had to go still, as new audience and new environment put new stress on my speaking. As I continued to do it all the year, I learned a lot (especially trying stand up was a whole new challenge) and I continue to stretch further in 2018.


    • John Zimmer says:

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience, Zain. Stand-up is a great way to stretch yourself and, in fact, I did the same thing myself last year. It will be the subject of the next post in the series.

  7. Yunus H Fornah says:

    Thank you for this recommendation. It’s really necessary to explore new avenues. I experienced few challenges when I decided to play an active role in our (Sierra Leone) political campaign process for our 2018 March 7 elections. Looking forward to receiving your guide on this.

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thank you for the comment, Yunus. Good for you for getting involved politically. Years ago, I worked in the Reparations Programme at the International Organization for Migration. Several of my colleagues were involved in a project in Sierra Leone and they all had wonderful things to say about your country. Good luck with the work ahead.

  8. Looking forward to it! I certainly plan to diversify my speaking situations this year.

    Happy New Year!


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