Learning how to become a better public speaker is a goal that many entrepreneurs and ambitious business owners share. In fact, public speaking is a priceless skill. Great communication skills are crucial in the tough and competitive world of business.
I’m often asked to share my experience - to share my journey of how I became a great public speaker - and we’ll get to that. I’m going to share this with you. But first, let’s go over some of the reasons why great speeches are so powerful.
Can you remember a time when a speech touched you so deeply, and resonated with you so much, that you felt compelled to take action afterwards? Can you remember a time when a speech ended and the roar of applause afterwards was earth-shattering? That’s the kind of response every speaker wants, and some speeches really are that powerful.
Not only is that kind of response great for business, but it’s also great for your personal brand, your credibility, and your reputation.
The reason why so many people want to learn how to become a better public speaker is partially because they know this skill will help them promote and grow their business.
Many people, however, have a fear of public speaking, or are insecure about their ability to grab an audience’s attention.
Still , others believe that only extroverts can learn how to become a better public speaker, while introverts stand no chance. This just simply isn’t true. Anyone can learn how to become a better public speaker, and you must believe in your ability to improve and master this skill.
Yes, you’ll have to learn how to write a great speech, and more importantly , learn how to deliver it. It most certainly is a challenge, but it’s within your potential. Let’s discuss some of the common challenges of public speaking and how to become a better public speaker.
In the beginning, even I didn’t want to be a public speaker. I was afraid of public speaking. Terrified, really. If you think I was born with a talent for public speaking, you’re wrong. It might seem that way when you see me speak now, but I used to be terrible at it. I spoke English poorly, I had a heavy accent, I was sweaty and nervous, I didn’t pronounce words properly.
Public speaking terrified me, and I was bad at it. But soon, I’d be on sstagetages giving public speeches at TEDx, StartCon Australia, and many other famous stages with large audiences. This is what I do now, and I’ve come a long way.
Not only that, but I also am often on stage giving speeches to a large audience of hundreds of my students.
Dale Carnegie said, “Great speakers are not born, they’re trained.” In other words, great speakers are made, not born.
I learned how to be a great public speaker. It is not a natural-born skill. For the rare person it is, but for most people, public speaking is a learnable skill.
If I could overcome my fear of public speaking and become a great public speaker, so can you. And it’s important to realize that most people are afraid of public speaking. So, if you fear public speaking, you’re not alone.
Let me take you back to when I was in high school. I had come to Canada from Hong Kong, not knowing how to speak a word of English. Chinese is my first language, not English. In school, I had no friends because I was afraid to talk to people.
I was that invisible kid, sitting in the very back of the classroom. I kept quiet, and kept to myself.
I was that kid you go through a few semesters with, and you still don't even know his name. I didn’t want to be noticed. I would never put up my hand in class. I would never ask any questions, because I was so afraid of saying something stupid. The truth was, I didn't know how to communicate or express myself. It was as if I had no voice.
One day, in English class, I had to deliver a speech in class. I was so terrified to do this, that I skipped the presentation, and hid in the bathroom in terror. My English teacher approached me afterwards and said, "Hey Dan, you have to deliver the speech because if you don't, I can't let you pass the class. Just deliver it. I don't care how bad it is, you simply must do it to pass this class.”
So, I stayed after class and my teacher helped me craft the speech. And when the time came to present it, I went to the front of the classroom with my hands shaking and my knees locking together. I was nervous, sweating, and I’m sure my face looked pale. Regardless, I just delivered the whole speech because I knew I had to do it.
At the time, I could only talk about basic things, like my thoughts about my hero Bruce Lee. I didn’t even really deliver the speech, I just read it. When I was done, I put the paper down and a couple of students clapped.
Afterwards, I thought to myself, Okay, that wasn’t so bad, I didn't die. I had just done something I was terrified to do, but I was fine. I survived. I had taken the first step to overcoming my fears of public speaking.
My teacher pushed me out of my comfort zone, and helped me start developing the confidence to speak in public. After I presented that speech, I realized I wanted to overcome this extreme shyness of mine. I could sense the fear did not help me in any way, and was holding me back in life.
Overcoming your fear of public speaking starts with just doing it as I did. You’ll realize afterwards that you survived, you did not die, and you’re okay. You will say to yourself, That wasn’t so bad. Suddenly, you’ll be less afraid.
You’ve heard the expression that greatness lies outside of your comfort zone, and it’s true.
Another thing about public speaking, is that you get better the more often you do it. So, if you want to know how to become a better public speaker, know that you must do it often. This includes rehearsing in front of the mirror often, and giving speeches often.
Public speaking, however, isn’t just being on stage in front of a large audience. Delivering a sales pitch to a couple of investors is public speaking, too. And presenting something to a small group of colleagues during a business meeting is public speaking as well. My belief is that all speaking is public speaking, because if someone is listening to you speak, you’re delivering a speech.
There are many support groups that can help you work on your public speaking skills. I joined Toastmasters, a non-profit organization with clubs all over the world. The Toastmasters club I joined was called Metro Speakers. On my first day, I just showed up and was met with very friendly, great people.
I immediately felt supported and comfortable. At the Toastmasters club, I practiced giving presentations in front of the group, and my presentation skills improved phenomenally.
Toastmasters has a program that you follow in order to learn how to become a better public speaker. You do an ice-breaker, you practice storytelling, and you try out a humorous speech.I did all of that.
I was so hungry for success that I was delivering a speech in front of the group every single week. It didn’t matter if it was table topics, where you're doing an impromptu speech. I didn’t care if I was chairing the meeting. I would show up and participate every single time. I was witnessing myself improve, and that was motivating me to keep going.
By delivering a speech every week, I completed the Toastmasters program very quickly. I noticed my own progress, and I was very happy.
After each speech, the people in the group would give me a comment form with feedback on my delivery. People used to write encouraging things like, “Good job, awesome, excellent.” After I had been attending for six months, people started writing things like, “You are a natural at this. You've got talent.”
This type of encouragement built my confidence up, which made all the difference.
Building up my self-confidence was one of the key ways I mastered how to become a better public speaker. The compliments, validation and positive feedback from my Toastmasters group built up my confidence, and that only made me an even better public speaker. You see, confidence is key when it comes to public speaking.
Your confidence shines through when you’re speaking, and captivates your audience. In general, confidence is very attractive and very captivating.
So, if you have low self-confidence, that’s something you’ll have to work on if you want to learn how to become a better public speaker. In fact, your confidence level is one of the first things you should work on if improving your public speaking is a serious goal of yours.
These days, people come up to me after a speech or presentation and say, "Great speech Dan. What you shared really touched me." I’m telling you, it feels amazing.
It also felt amazing to realize that my words had power.
I realized the effect that a good communicator has on an audience. And I started becoming more confident in myself, in being able to communicate with people. As my confidence grew, I began to give back to those around me.
It became my goal to help others, because I remember what it was like in high school. I remember avoiding eye contact when walking home after school, keeping my eyes on the floor in the hallways, and on the ground when I got outside. I wouldn't talk to anyone.
Toastmasters was the first step to developing my confidence so I could look beyond myself and start helping others. Later on, because I was so active in the club, I was voted the club president.
I was the youngest president for Toastmasters in my district, as I was in my early 20s.
We became one of the most successful clubs in our district. Under my management, we had more members than other clubs, we charged more, and we had a waiting list. Our club produced some of the best speakers. We also won many more awards than other clubs.
Although I was the president, I worked with people who were older than me. I even managed a group of volunteers. Later, to skip ahead in this story, I started my own digital marketing business. When people saw my success, they started asking me to teach them. So I decided to put my presentation skills to use.
I decided to run a workshop for a small group. Sadly, nobody showed up. Then the audience was just my mom and two or three others. But eventually , it grew. It grew to 10 people, then 20, and then they brought their friends. Soon I had 100 people, then 200 people. And the audience of people wanting to hear me speak just got bigger and bigger.
I could tell you that I was born with the natural talent to be a great speaker. But that's not the case at all. I never, ever thought of becoming a public speaker. However, with confidence, commitment and practice, I became one.
When I decided public speaking was a skill that should improve, enhance and master, I became very dedicated in my pursuit of mastering how to become a better public speaker.
But how does one rise from good to excellent?
I found the answer in martial arts. Many years ago, when I was training with one of Bruce Lee's original students, someone asked, “How do I become like Bruce Lee?” My sifu, my teacher, said, "It’s very simple. You put in Bruce Lee hours." You see, Bruce Lee is notorious for the thousands of hours he spent practicing each move.
During my pursuit to become a great public speaker, I spent plenty of hours practicing, writing and rewriting speeches, and rehearsing out loud. For every five minutes on stage, I spent roughly an hour off stage, preparing.
I also spent a lot of time seeking help from master public speakers, and watching the work of great speakers such as Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar.
I watched videos of their speeches, I studied their style and their way of speaking. I even went to their live events, and paid attention to how they delivered and presented their speeches live. Studying the masters definitely helped me, but in the end, I found my own style that worked for me and resonated with my audience. I found my signature speaking style, and you need to find yours.
Even with my current level of skill and amount of experience, I still practice before I go on stage. That's what a professional does. Most people don't practice enough. You only get nervous when you are delivering a speech without enough preparation. It’s preparation that kills those nervous jitters and helps you perform better.
If you're well prepared, you’ll be okay when you present your speech. You might even be great.
A great public speaker can evoke emotion in their audience, resonate with their audience, and connect with their audience. The best public speakers can influence and persuade their audience, too.
Great public speaking isn’t as much about perfection as it is about connection. You have to speak from your heart. Try to involve some humor, captivating stories, and ‘aha!’ moments in your speech.
A great speaker connects with his or her audience in a way that resonates with them deeply. But you don’t have to be a perfect speaker. You simply have to find a way to resonate with your audience. In fact, sometimes it’s the imperfect speakers who resonate with their audience the most.
Truly great public speakers impact people, motivate people, and help people transform their lives. And, they enjoy public speaking. They enjoy sharing their knowledge, motivating others, giving advice, and teaching people things. Most public speakers will tell you that it’s very fulfilling.
Now, if I’ve inspired you to become a great public speaker, then I’d like to share my final thoughts on becoming a skilled public speaker.
It doesn’t matter how terrible you are at public speaking right now, or how much you fear it. Some of the best public speakers today, were once just as afraid to do it as you are, and were once very bad at it.
I delivered my first speech because if I didn't, I would fail English class. I was sort of forced to overcome my fear. I later joined Toastmasters, where I learned valuable speaking skills that gave me the confidence to speak as I do now, engaging an audience of thousands. But to get to that point, you must be committed to hours of practice, and train yourself.
My journey to becoming a great public speaker was lengthy. It took me a long time, a lot of practice, and I had to take the time to learn public speaking secrets from the masters.
Your journey to becoming a great public speaker doesn’t have to be as long as mine was. Why? Because I’m giving you access to my public speaking secrets.
I’ve decided to share some of my closely-guarded secrets about how to skyrocket your confidence, speak in a way that resonates with others, overcome your fear of public speaking, and influence and persuade your audience. Gain access to my Public Speaking Secrets Video Training here.
Remember that a skilled public speaker is made, not born. With the right training, coaching, and access to the masters’ secrets, you can quickly learn how to become a better public speaker - even a great public speaker. Mastering this skill will skyrocket your success.