Surprising Advice From Some Of The Best Public Speakers Out There
Although ranked ahead of death in the list of most common fears (the top three are public speaking, death, and spiders in that order) public speaking is a required skill for every ambitious professional. I have worked with many professionals who could use a boost when it comes to delivering presentations. Some are uncomfortable but manage to grin and bear it. Others are completely paralyzed. In some cases, the requirement of public speaking stops great employees from ever advancing in their career. I had a brilliant client who didn’t pursue a senior role for which she was the perfect candidate because it required delivering presentations occasionally.
When done right, delivering a speech increases your visibility with people who count. Since it’s a one-to-many activity, public speaking is unparalleled in its ability to help you stand out and impress leaders – lots of them. Regardless of your job function, as you progress in your career, being articulate becomes more and more important, and becoming a competent and confident public speaker is critical for leadership roles.
To give you an edge over your peers, I reached out to some of the most impressive pubic speakers I know. Some of this advice comes from household names, and other tips come from lesser known but successful professional speakers I have seen deliver brilliant keynotes. All of their advice goes beyond the expected basics. Here are often-overlooked pointers from people who are paid to stand out and engage their audiences on the speaking circuit.
Dan Pink, New York Times bestselling author: “Saying something important is better than saying important things. Your goal isn’t to show how much you know or how many thoughts you’ve had, but to leave the audience with one idea to ponder or one action to take.”
Marcus Buckingham, motivational speaker and business consultant: “The best speaking advice I’d give is the best speaking advice I’ve heard – from Martin Luther King, Jr: When you’re speaking, the most important thing is your takeoff and landing. You’ve got to know how you are going to launch the audience into your dream, and then land it by bringing the dream back down to them. But in between takeoff and landing, you can fly like crazy.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur: “My biggest secret is to talk about what you know you’re good at – talk about stuff you know. I don’t talk about things I don’t know. I feel like my opinion in business matters because of the execution I did to get there. I stick to what I know and that helps me scream. I’m a good communicator by my DNA, and by staying in my comfort zone, in my lanes of expertise and the places where I spend my time honing my craft, it comes off very clean. It comes off very natural, because it is natural.”
Simon Sinek, optimist and bestselling author: “Show up to give. Show up wanting nothing. No approval. No business. Just the desire to share.”
Marilyn Sherman, motivational keynote speaker: “The best tip I received was early in my career when my audiences got bigger and I got more nervous. I called my mentor, and he asked me two questions. So whenever anyone has asked me for speaking advice over the last 22 years, I have challenged them with the same two questions: 1. Do you believe in what you will be delivering? 2. Does your message have value to this audience? If you can answer yes to those two, then the nerves that remain are ego (how will I sound, how will I look, will they like me?). Focus on the value you are giving your audience, and you’ll be golden. This has served me well!
Sally Hogshead, New York Times Bestselling Author: “One of the primary tenets of the Fascinate Advantage is that to communicate effectively you need to understand how the world sees you. This is crucial when you are delivering a speech. For instance, you might think you’re funny. So you frame your next speech with humor. But what if nobody else thinks you’re funny? You’re left delivering jokes for 45 minutes to an audience that’s distracted, fidgety, and bored. If you take the time to identify your unique differences – the communication traits that you naturally use to command attention – your audience will be enthralled and you will be more confident and memorable.”
And one practical tip from me. I use this before every presentation I deliver. I learned it from a Broadway actor. Don’t eat or drink anything white (milk, yogurt, etc.) for 24 hours before you speak. And drink a cup of warm water with lemon before you go on stage. This ensures the best voice clarity and projection, helping you exude confidence.
Being an engaging public speaker is a powerful career advancer. Use these tips from the best to refine your presentation skills and build your confidence.