I want to try to shift a certain assumption: the assumption that you can learn a skill like public speaking in a one to two-day training course.

This assumption is false and is not based in reality because public speaking, like any other skill to master – whether it’s learning how to speak a language or play the piano – takes total immersion to learn.

For many years, I offered half-day and day-long training sessions in public speaking for leaders in companies, organizations, and academic institutions around the world. I provided a “quick-fix” solution for a pervasive problem. Although those sessions were very well received, I now know that they were not transformative, they didn’t go deep enough and change the participants from the inside out. Instead, they worked from the outside in, acting like a band-aid solution and only activating participants into wanting to learn more. While this isn’t a bad result, it defeats the main purpose of why these leaders took this training in the first place. They signed up to become better speakers and believed that this course would help them to do that.

Sorry Summertime – that didn’t happen. It couldn’t because learning a complex skill like this in a very short time frame is a total fallacy. It is not how humans learn. We need time-space and mind-space and body-space in order to learn. We need full immersion in order to transform on a cellular level. 

Now, 10 years into training leaders in the art of effective public speaking, I have finally found a way to move the needle of learning from “activation” to “transformation”. Leadership Speaking Core, The Leadership Speaking School’s signature week-long program, disrupts the status quo for training in public speaking. It breaks the familiar one to two-day training mold that is standard among public speaking trainers and provokes a more profound level of learning. Instead of merely motivating leaders, this intensive program actually transforms them into better versions of themselves as speakers.

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I have come to this conclusion by closely watching Leadership Speaking Core participants go through the week-long training over the past few months. As an observer, I have begun to understand how exhausting and intense Day 1 is. I have realized that there is no way that they can leave transformed after that first day (which is the same as the day-long master class I used to offer). If anything, they leave Day 1 tired and overwhelmed and spend the night in restless sleep processing the new material. Even on Day 2, I have seen that they are still marinating in the content, needing more time before they can actually start applying what they have learned.

I have observed that the needle of transformation doesn’t start to move until Day 3 of the training. This is a magical day were the windows and doors of their internal worlds begin to open. Little by little, more color and light stream out of those openings. As participants begin to access their “heart-space”, they move out of thinking about the content and instead, move into living it. They begin to trust the process and they surrender to the experience. This is the plane where actual transformation happens as defined by the online Cambridge Dictionary:

The Big Takeaway

Superficially, one to two-day training sessions work for trainers who want to deliver their services in a time-efficient way; for companies who want to tick-the-box and say that they have offered training for their staff; and for employees who want to say that they have had public speaking training but, they don’t lead to personal transformation.

These short sessions, I now know, are a fart in the sea. They feel good to do, but they float away.

If you as a trainer, company or individual want to move the needle of learning the skill of public speaking from activation to transformation, I want to suggest, and it is a very important suggestion, that you look for programs which last longer than three days and which immerse the learners from head to toe in a wide ocean of diving, frolicking and swimming opportunities 😉

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Dr. Laura Penn trains global leaders from the world’s most recognized companies, academic institutions, and not-for-profit organizations how to speak in public. As the Founder of The Leadership Speaking School, world-class speaker coach and three-time TEDx speaker, featured on TED.com, she supports leaders who are hungry for the skills that they need to vastly improve themselves as speakers. Based in Switzerland, she is disrupting the status quo for how we speak in front of audiences both in-person and online.

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