5 Tips to Become a Better Public Speaker


It seems these days that just about everyone who does anything well becomes an expert at it and decides to take on public speaking to share with others their secret, and of course make money doing it. While there is nothing wrong with public speaking and certainly nothing wrong with getting paid doing it, there are certain elements that make speakers last, while others fall rather quickly. We have compiled a list of some of the main ingredients that make a speech worthy of sharing.

Speak from experience, not assumption.

Just because you may have accurate information does not mean you know what it’s like to have lived through it. While it is easy to speak as to what it takes to launch and be successful with a start-up, it is always more difficult to have actually done it and there are relevant obstacles and learnings that only experience can give you. Teaching others about the importance of social media in the start-up realm or even discussing being bootstrapped holds no value unless you can share real experience based situations in which you succeeded. Too many speakers these days are simply nothing more than speakers and the crowds are becoming better at spotting real success from overnight BS. Here’s a video on David Blaine at TED explaining how he held his breath for 17 min.

Speak from the heart.

Speaking is about engaging with your audience and no one likes to listen to someone who believes they are better than the world or someone who has never struggled in their life. Despite our desire to look powerful and confident, it is our ability to remain humane and humble that allows us to connect with our audience. Remember that showing vulnerability or talking about failure doesn’t make you weak but rather show how strong your character was when it overcame the challenges it was faced with. People tend to relate well to others who share similar struggles and challenges and feel empowered when they hear others move past their fears. If you have been following us, then you know how we always say that we are all born with fears, but it is those that overcome theirs the fastest that win the most in the game of life. Remember that when speaking, as everyone loves to hear how you overcame yours. Here’s a video on Ashton Kutcher on three things you need to succeed.

Be a story teller.

Nothing is more boring than someone who rambles on and on without getting anywhere. We all have a story and yours matter when you are up speaking in public. People love stories but more importantly stories that are speaking from experience rather than assumptions and textbook knowledge. Great stories are easier to remember and create much more impact on an audience. Since your story is about you, it is also much easier to talk about than if you are simply using a topic of discussion. Keep in mind that stories have beginnings and endings, and regardless that you have reached the end of your journey or not, your ending needs to let people know that the end of your journey or the end of a segment of it has come. By creating a powerful ending to your speech, you will leave people wanting more and therefore wanting to see where things will continue to head but it will give them closure to have enjoyed the speech and will have taken more of its important message rather than the focus on an unfinished story. Think about your speech as a movie. No one likes a great movie with an unfinished ending. Here’s a video on Steve Jobs when he gave his commencement speech at Stanford University.

Focus on one point, and one point only

Your story may share many experiences and many learnings but you must choose before your start speaking what you want your audience to take back from your speech. Ask yourself what your audience should say they learned in one line or less once they are done watching you. Whatever it is that you want them to learn, make sure that all the different lines, examples, experiences and components of that speech re-enforce that core message. Remember that everyone learns differently and everyone relates to different things but the idea is to share the same message in various ways until the majority if not all your audience connects with your message and you. Here’s a video on Eric Thomas on the secret to success.

Make people laugh, but don’t be a comedian

Humor is always an important piece of a great speech but it can also be a huge distraction if used in the wrong manner or in excess dosage. Remember that public speaking must be entertaining, which is why storytelling is so important but adding a few tones of humor can help break the ice with your audience and keep them engaged especially in longer speeches. The biggest mistakes bad speakers make is their continued attempt at making people laugh on stage. While it is usually their own way to find a connection before getting into their main speech it is also a perfect way to disconnect with an audience who came to watch and learn, rather than laugh. Here’s a video on Conan O Brien when he gave a commencement speech at Dartmouth University.

There you have it, a few tips to help you keep your speaking career on track or to rather help you start one. Remember that some of today’s worst speeches are often the ones who are monotone and rehearsed rather than the ones who come from the heart and full of emotions. Most of the people hearing you speak admire you for having the guts to go on stage and appreciate how difficult it is. They often would love to have the courage to do so themselves to share their story and therefore love to relate to yours. All you have left to do is tell them a story worth listening to.