“This girl is unbelievable.”
That’s what I first thought when I discovered Ann Makosinski and her work. Plus, she can rock a stage.
As an introverted girl (and naturally on the shy side), these are skills I wish I had when starting out, before the dealing with music students’ parents and design pitches.
Today, I’m THRILLED to share this chat with Ann Makosinski. She is awesome, as in full of awe. Not only did she invent the body-heat powered flashlight at 15 years old, but she easily commands a theatre-full of people. For musicians, this skill is especially useful for teaching music classes and workshops.
In this video, we’re chatting about public speaking tips, and other big ideas, like how to be “yourself” when you don’t fit with everyone else.
The ideas for public speaking transfer to other types of performance as well, especially piano playing and teaching.
Let’s jump right in! Here are the public speaking tips that Ann goes by:
How to improve your public speaking (and performance) skills
1. Watch good speakers
Everyone has a unique style, but find people you enjoy and notice how they speak. Perhaps they speak slower. Perhaps they let their sentences breathe longer. Perhaps they enunciate more.
Ann recommends listening to classic radio shows like Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes. I have a few episodes waiting on my computer!
People sound confident when their words are distinct.
Try to say New York ten times quickly, but clearly.
If you want a quick fix for enunciation, try (what I call) the Pencil-in-the-Mouth. Grab a pencil– surprise!– and a book. Pick a passage in the book and read it out loud. Clamp the pencil between your lips, horizontally, and read the paragraph again. Then read the paragraph again, without the pencil.
Your words will be clearer and your pencil will be wetter.
3. Loosen up
Researchers from Imperial College London and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama conducted a study where a trio (flute/harp/viola) played five different Classical pieces, two times each. The first time, they played as if they were in competition, striving for perfection with zero risk. The second, they played spontaneously, in a flexible, improvised manner.
It turns out, most listeners preferred the improvised performance. Their EEG brain signals showed more engagement and attention during the latter as well.
People prefer natural flow rather than robotic perfection, so let yourself shine through.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes– because they will happen. Perhaps in a different moment in time, under different circumstances, you could’ve done better. But in that moment, you did everything that you could have, and you should be happy about that.
What was your last experience with public speaking or performing? Are you happy with the results– why or why not? We’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!