No one is born with the innate ability to be a great public speaker. You will never find a baby giving a presentation. We’re not actually born with the ability to speak in front of a crowd and to be great public speakers.
So how exactly can we learn to be a better speaker?
It’s something that we learn over time.
Maybe 1% of people are born to speak and may have a natural knack to learn how to speak publicly. We can all be very jealous of those people.
But what I’m working on at the moment is learning to become a better public speaker and then teaching you guys how to do it as well. So how do we learn to do that?
Tip#1: Watch great speeches
It is easier than ever to get access to great speeches.
All you have to do is search YouTube for something like “Toastmasters” or “great speeches” or “public speaking world championships” and you can see loads of great speeches.
I am watching great speeches at the moment and – yes – sometimes it actually makes me feel a bit crappy. These speeches are effective and polished and done so well. It can sometimes make me feel like I will never be that good.
But they can also be inspirational. Watch them and learn from them. This will help you become a better public speaker over time.
You will start to pull out things and see techniques that are used by these great speakers. Simply being exposed to their speeches will help you to improve naturally.
Start with my list of the 10 best ted talks of all time.
Tip#2: Study technique
I recently bought a book on Kindle called Public Speaking Mastery by Akash Karia. He takes four really great speeches – winners of the public speaking world championships – and he talks about things that they did well and how we can apply those to our own speeches.
This is taking it a step further than simply watching the great speeches. What we’re doing here is pulling them apart and looking at the techniques used to make the speeches great.
Akash’s book has several great techniques that you can use.
Open with a “you-focus” question to capture attention. Involve your audience in your speech. Ask for answers from your audience. Repeat your audience’s answers when they give them to you. Involve all sides of the room so you don’t leave people out. Use humour to engage your audience. Uncover humour from dialogue. Arouse your audience’s attention by promising they will learn something new.
Look at the things that great speakers do well and study the different public speaking techniques so that you can learn and become a better public speaker.
However, be careful not to get caught up on technique. It isn’t everything. Check out my post on how we focus too much on technique when teaching public speaking.
Tip#3: Practice, practice, practice
We’re never going to become better speakers if we don’t speak.
Writer’s block is extremely common in the industry – in blogging and book writing and novel writing and so forth. They put so much emphasis on the power of writing because the written word stays there.
But how often do we have speaker’s block in everyday life? Never. Because we’re so used to talking to people. It’s what we do every single day.
But when it comes to public speaking we do get speaker’s block. We put some much emphasis on the importance of public speaking. We get scared and anxious.
Practising is one of the best things that you can do to overcome your trepidations.
Practising in front of a crowd is obviously going to be one of the best ways to do it because you get the crowd feedback. But you can also practise at home and in private to build up your skills.
Here are 15 fun public speaking activities you can do if you want to improve your public speaking skills.
Tip#4: Build confidence in yourself
Confidence comes over time. There are different activities that you can do to build confidence but it will mostly come with practise.
You also need to accept compliments and to be able to recognise when you have done a good job.
Don’t just look at what you could have done better. Identify your gem moments. Look for things that you did really well and allow that to build your confidence.
Because the fact is most people don’t even get up in front of crowd and speak. The fact that you just got up on stage and said anything should be a confidence booster for you.
Be proud of yourself and be confident.
Tip#5: Build an archive
Build an archive in your mind of stories and points and ideas that you can use during public speeches.
Introductions are a great thing to build an archive of. How are you going to open a speech? How are you going to make it engaging?
What stories can you think of that you can use to clarify your message? What morals can you pull from those stories?
Building this archive will allow you to draw on introductions and stories in any situation.
A lot of people don’t do this. They don’t archive their ideas and they don’t remember their stories in a way that they can share them with other people.
A lot of things happen in your day-to-day life that you could use in your speeches. So remember them and file them away in your mental archive for future use.
Tip#6: Watch bad speeches
Tip number one was to watch great speeches. But now we want to watch bad speeches as well.
They will make you feel better about yourself and build up your own confidence. It will also allow you to identify what it was that prevented the speech from working.
A good idea would be to go to something like a Toastmasters event. There would be a mixture of great speeches from public speaking veterans and amateur speeches from newbies who are speaking for the first time. You could also go to an open mic night at a comedy club.
So watch bad speeches. Feel better about yourself and look at what they didn’t do well and how could they have turned that around and made it a better speech.
Tip#7: Get a mentor
Find a mentor and learn from them. Glean from them and get as much advice as you can. I feel that this is very important.
But what if you can’t get a mentor? Pick someone who you think is a great speaker and choose them as your mentor.
Watch their YouTube videos. Follow their blog. Read their books. Email them and try to make contact. Consume all of their advice – even if it’s not aimed directly at you. They can effectively become a long distance mentor from whom you can learn.
So there are my seven tips on how to learn to be a better speaker. It’s something that I’m very passionate about. I want to become effective. I want to become great. So let’s keep working at it.