In this article, I will answer the question: “what does an online public speaking class look like?”
Online virtual meetings are becoming the backbone of organizational communications. With so many companies like Zoom, Cisco, or Citrix developing the technology, professionals like you are looking for resources to learn how to be effective in such virtual spaces.
Three types of virtual public speaking classes
1: Online public speaking course
Online courses are a great way to learn public speaking. It’s a way to get tips and information down without practice time. Most likely, you have taken an online course before at Udemy or Coursera or even on a private platform.
To get the best of an online speaking course, you have to find a place to practice what you have learned. Public speaking is like swimming and to actually learn it, you have to jump in the pool and practice!
2: Public speaking webinar/webcast
If you prefer to have an instructor available to answer questions but don’t want to participate yourself, then a webinar is your best option. A webinar is like an online course: it’s good for the transfer of information but does not provide a space to practice. Unlike the online course, a webinar usually has a live instructor to answer questions and engage with the participants.
We at Magnetic Speaking offer courses and webinars; however, our top recommendation is online classes. Online public speaking classes give you the best of 3 worlds and you’ll get great content, an interactive instructor, live practice opportunity, and feedback. This way, you not only learn intellectually, but you get to practice in front of a live audience and get professional feedback from a trained instructor.
How Do Online Public Speaking Classes Work?
After registering for an online speaking class, you’ll receive a link for the platform it’ll be held on. It could be Zoom, Google Hangouts or other virtual meeting programs. Then, when the time comes for the class, you’ll follow that link and be taken into the software.
After you’ve logged into class, there will be an instructor there and other participants joining. Throughout the first couple minutes people will be virtually hopping into the class. The instructor may be greeting and welcoming everyone as they join.
Then you’ll be taken through introductions and warm-up speaking drills such as improv exercises or ice breakers.
The next stage is to learn a part of the speaking framework being taught in class. You’ll learn a simple speaking drill and then be given the chance to practice in front of the class, virtually. It’s low pressure, usually focused on a more casual subject that’s easy to talk about.
You’ll then be going into the final application session where everything that’s been taught is brought together in one final speaking exercise. The exercise usually involves the full framework being taught. You’ll have a chance to practice it and then can take it with you to use at work immediately!
After going through the final application session, the class will wrap up to a close where people can stick around to ask the trainer questions or they can exit the software.
What Makes An Effective Speaking Class?
Okay, so that all sounds great. Now you want to make sure you’re using your time well!
There are 4 elements to making the class effective: the instructor, curriculum, time for practice/feedback and YOU.
The right instructor is crucial for your learning. They have the power to accelerate your progress and even make learning public speaking an enjoyable process (yes, it’s possible!). But if you’ve ever felt judged while learning something new, you know how debilitating it can be.
So most importantly, the instructor needs to create a safe learning environment. That means you should feel free to make mistakes, try new things and not get things right the first time.
Great speaking comes when you’ve built your comfort level. You need safety to build that comfort.
Along with safety, you want an instructor that’s humble and approachable. Have you ever felt like an instructor was talking down at you or acted like they knew everything? It’s happened to all of us. When it does, it creates a distance between you and your learning goal!
Instead, a trainer that’s humble knows that they’re growing too and that they don’t have all the answers for you. They’ll teach in a way that’s relatable and personable.
If the instructor has these qualities, that’s amazing. To make it even better, they should be knowledgeable about how public speaking changes in different contexts. Do they understand how presenting to leadership is different than speaking up in a meeting? The best instructors will help you “calibrate” everything that you do, so you stay authentic and conversational.
The last aspect is whether they’re attentive and engaging. It should be clear that they’re present in the room and paying attention to each student. The best instructors are tracking your progress and noticing if you need extra help. They also take it upon themselves to engage the group with their speaking style, with questions and overall energy. They know that if the class seems boring, it’s not the students’ responsibility, it’s theirs.
Public speaking is a large skill-set that can feel like a big mountain to climb. That’s why along with the right instructor, you need the right curriculum.
The curriculum in an effective class should loosen you up first. In our classes, we use “speaking drills” and warm-ups to get each participant out of their heads, present and feeling free to make mistakes. It’s an essential part of the learning process.
You want the curriculum to be easy to follow. The last thing you want is to be sitting in class, confused about the material and feeling overwhelmed. Are there frameworks that help break down the ideas into bite-sized pieces? Is there priority in information so you know what to focus on? That will help you implement the tools immediately.
Which brings us to the last element of the curriculum – how actionable it is! So often, people walk out of trainings and then realize they have no idea how to use what they learned in a real situation. Public speaking has to go beyond theory. The research behind a technique is helpful to remember why it’s important, but you also have to be able to use it. So make sure it’s applicable to your real-world situations.
Time For Practice & Feedback
This one can’t be stressed enough. You will only get better at public speaking by practicing and getting feedback. An effective class gives you time to immediately practice in front of other students and the instructor. This way, you can make the consistent changes needed to become a great speaker.
With practice, you want feedback as well. In any sport, a coach will give the players drills to do and guide them. That way, when game-time comes, they know how to adjust accordingly. So when you’re at work giving your next presentation, you’ve already been adjusting your speaking and become more aware of your blindspots.
The instructor, curriculum and practice time matters – a ton. But at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your learning.
We talked about this in a previous article on how to be effective in a virtual meeting, but the first step is turning your camera on. Get comfortable with being visible and in the spotlight. Over time, it’ll feel weird to keep it off!
Another way to get the most out of your time is to take risks and do things you normally wouldn’t try. That’s the whole point of a training! You don’t want to leave thinking, “I spoke and did everything the same way I would at work.” You’ll make mistakes and lose track of your thoughts and it’ll be totally okay. In fact, it’s encouraged. It’s the fastest way you’ll build your comfort and confidence.
And last, have fun! The more you can loosen up, laugh at yourself and just be there to learn and not be perfect – the more you’ll want to keep coming to classes. It’s something we’ve heard often from the clients that keep coming back and getting better – they’re surprised at how much fun they have.
What Do You Learn In A Public Speaking Class?
A great public speaking class teaches you the topic in small, easy to digest pieces. For example, when you look at public speaking, you can break into four major categories: Delivery Skills, Structure, Storytelling, and Impromptu speaking. A useful class will focus on one of these categories and gives you actionable and behavioral takeaways you can learn and implement.
Notice the Agenda focuses on a delivery concept for this day. Other days the class might be on a different topic from a different category.
You can get so much out of a live, online speaking class. We believe it’s the best way to learn public speaking other than coming to an in-person class. Just make sure the material is actionable and that you have an opportunity to practice what you learn.
Now, of course, we wouldn’t believe these things and not offer a class ourselves!
We offer 1-hour live, online public speaking classes each week for professionals of any skill level. We dive into a specific framework or technique and you get a chance to practice right there. It’s a safe and fun way to keep building your confidence and sharpening your skills.
We want you to be a great, comfortable speaker. Come join us..your first one is free!