5 Tips On How To Be A Better Speaker

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by Steve Holt on September 3, 2013

Over the past year I have helped some friends of mine get started in the speaking business. Speaking in front of others can be a terrifying experience for most people, but for others it can be a thrilling experience. In fact, for me, it’s one of the things that I love doing the most. So I wanted to share some of my own tips for those who want to learn how to get people to actually pay you for your speaking services.

I had some help along the way from others, like my friend Michael Angelo Caruso, who convinced me that I could indeed be a paid speaker and gave me some resources to get started. It was just a matter of hard work, relationships, and some breaks. So here are my top 5 tips, in no particular order.

1. Speak every chance you get – Every time you have the chance to speak in front of others, even if it is just a few people, do it. Raise your hand. Volunteer to give the report. Say the invocation.  Before you can approach even being comfortable speaking in front of others, you have to just do it.  You also can’t get any better unless you do it. Even Tiger Woods has to practice.

2.  Learn from others – One of my favorite things to do is listen to other speakers.  I have heard some pretty awful ones, and I have seen some amazing speakers.  And I have learned something from every single one. So go to YouTube and search for ‘motivational speaker’.  Search for ‘TED Talks’ on Google and watch every one.  And sit on the front row for every speaker you get the chance to hear. Take notes on how they speak, what tricks did they use, how did they open it… and how did they close it.  Soak up as much as you can.

3.  Develop your own talks – I have a handful of topics that I regularly speak about.  And what has happened is that someone will be in the audience who hears me, and then contacts me later to come to their event and speak about the same thing.  Get really good at delivering those talks.  Work on your opening, your key points during the talk, your delivery of that key line or that humorous joke.  Work on that ending to the talk that really knocks it out of the park.

4.  Add your personal touch – I still remember the stories that I have heard from my favorite speakers.  Some of them have quirky personalities and a unique delivery.  Some of them have signature stories that are from their personal lives.  There is something about you that is unique.  It could be your background, it could be something that happened to you or your family, or it could be a specific piece of expertise or knowledge that you have gained.  Whatever it is, use it.  Add your personal touch and your personal style to your talks.

5.  Be willing to speak for free – I didn’t start out making thousands of dollars for a 1-hour keynote address.  I started out speaking for free.  And I still do speaking gigs today for free.  Because you never know when someone in the audience will be looking for a speaker for their event, or a business consultant to help them with whatever it is that you know so much about.

I will never forget the day that a friend asked me to come speak to their employee gathering.  He had heard me speak before and knew I could deliver some value to his staff.  Then he asked me, “So how much would you charge to do that?”  After getting over the initial shock of someone offering me money to do something that I was willing to do for free, I said rather sheepishly… “well, would $50 be ok?”  He laughed and told me he would probably pay me a little more than that, and I learned something very valuable that day.  My friend Michael Angelo Caruso says it best… you know something, and it turns out that someone, somewhere is willing to pay for that.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Kermath September 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm

6. Perfect practice makes perfect. Join a local Toastmasters International club for a safe environment to fail. You will crash and burn dozens of times – best to do it among friends the first ten times. http://www.toastmasters.org to find a club near you.

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Al Malinchak September 4, 2013 at 9:15 am

Steve, well said on many levels – exceptional advice 🙂

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