7 Easy Tips to Become An Expert Public Speaker
While there are many reasons to become a public speaker, the fear of public speaking or glossophobia often hinders many from reaching their goal. According to Mayo Clinic, the fear of public speaking “can range from slight nervousness to paralyzing fear and panic.”
But becoming a successful public speaker can take you places you never dreamed of going.
What if you knew that only 7% of your talk’s meaning would be communicated through your words? Would that knowledge take some pressure off?
What if you knew that only 7% of your talk’s meaning would be communicated through your words?
A psychology professor at the University of California, Albert Mehrabian, describes this as the 7-38-55 rule. This concept states that only 7% of meaning is communicated through spoken word. The rest gets communicated through either tone of voice (38%) or body language (55%).
It’s not just what you say that will help you become a public speaker, but how you say it and with what mannerisms.
If you have an idea worth spreading but are afraid of public speaking, the good news is there are concrete steps you can take today. These steps will help give you the confidence you need to overcome your fear and become an expert public speaker.
How to Start A Public Speaking Career
Perhaps you’ve seen talks by popular speakers like Brian Tracy and Taylor Conroy, and you’re wondering how you can get there yourself. Maybe you’ve dabbled with speeches and blog posts, but you haven’t pushed yourself towards a speaking career. You’re interested but unsure how to proceed.
Whether you’ve dabbled with speaking or haven’t at all, the tips we’ve listed below can help. Learn how to become a public speaker that individuals recognize and admire by following the steps below.
Generally speaking, people are comfortable talking about what they love. When their passion is piqued, self-conscious mannerisms go to the back of their mind. The 7 percent rule (what you say) starts with your passion.
Before you dive deep into a public speaking career, take some time to assess your interests:
- What types of books or movies do you gravitate to?
- How do you spend your time on a free evening?
- What types of vacations most interest you?
- What does your ideal weekend look like?
For example, if you grew up playing in an orchestra and choose movies based on who scored the film, you are interested in music. Now, you can take this interest a step further. If your ideal vacation activity is watching a show on Broadway, your common theme includes a passion for music scores.
2. Identify Your Why
In his breakout TEDx Talk, Start With Why Simon Sinek describes how people don’t buy into what you do as much as why you do it. He says, “It’s those who start with why that have the ability to inspire those around them.”
The passion behind your topic is as important as the topic itself. Why you are passionate about something will impact how you talk about it. How you talk affects your tone (the 38 percent rule). If you were the person in our example above, we might ask you these questions before encouraging you to take on any speaking engagements:
Does your passion for music tie to a particular memory or moment?
Has music helped you overcome any difficulties or trials that you can share with others?
How is music shaping what you do, and how can it help others?
How can you encourage others to participate in music the same way you do?
Once you’ve decided on a general theme and identified your why it’s time to focus on the next step to developing your presentation skills.
3. Clarify Your Story
Clarity contributes to excellent communication, so it’s vital to clarify your story if you want to become a professional public speaker. If you’re not sure what your story is or how to start building it, start with the most significant aspects of your theme, and you’re why. These are the points to include in future talks. For example:
Out of your themes, choose the one topic you are most passionate about
Perhaps music is your theme. But the more you align yourself with your core passions, the more you realize that movie music is your topic
Out of your reasons why choose the why that is most important to you
In high school, you loved playing in the orchestra but didn’t love the practice commitment. Looking back, you see practicing taught you the power of not giving up. You’re applying this mindset to the new business you’re starting and seeing great results.
While you may not be scheduled to speak yet, clarifying your story can help you:
- Get crystal clear on your message
- Craft a talk that will impact your audience
- Build confidence
Knowing your story gives listeners something concrete to hold onto. When an audience relates to you, odds are you perform better. The better you perform, the greater your likeness in taking on future speaking gigs.
4. Get Comfortable On Stage
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. But it’s also been said that practice makes permanent. Getting comfortable speaking in front of people is the 55 percent rule (body language), and it starts with small details.
Whether you want to become a speaker by taking your talk to a small, local event or land a TEDx Talk as Simon Sinek did, you can take steps today to set yourself up for success.
- Notice what you’re passionate about and why
- Remember to make eye contact with your audience
- Move your body naturally across the stage
- Enroll in a community college speech class
- Hire a mentor to help you craft a talk
5. Share Your Story
If you want to become a public speaker, it’s essential to share your topic before stepping on stage. However, sharing your passion doesn’t need to be restricted to the stage. Often it’s more powerful to start sharing your story off stage.
Sit down to coffee with that coworker, go on a walk with a friend, and talk about your passion. This process helps you gain confidence in sharing your passion and shows you which aspects of your story best step people resonate with most.
The more you talk about your topic, the more feedback you will receive. Feedback is an invaluable resource to collect before taking your talk to a literal stage. And once you take the stage, having already connected through interpersonal conversations will help you better connect with individuals in your audience.
6. Take Up Free Speaking Gigs
Now that you’re comfortable on-stage, it’s time to take up any accessible speaking gig you can get your hands on. We discuss this opportunity more in our article, How to Become A Keynote Speaker, where we mention different public speaking opportunities for those wanting a live audience. Here are some additional opportunities to speak for free that you can take advantage of:
- Join a PR group and become an officer that speaks at meetings
- Look for open mic nite events where you can practice speaking in public
- Go live on social media once a week
- Find a local rotary or community club
Whether you’re speaking for business or personal accomplishment, it’s essential to hone in on your skillset by taking advantage of the opportunities out there. Every expert public speaker has to start somewhere.
7. Give A TEDx Talk
Now that you’ve advanced your public speaking skills, it’s time to take things up a notch. First, consider crafting an award-winning TEDx performance to enhance your speaking portfolio. A TEDx talk is the next step to becoming an expert public speaker and eventually getting paid to speak.
Layer your common theme, your why, and your unique perspective into your presentation so you can draft a speech that represents the core of who you are and what you do. Becoming a TEDx motivational speaker helps you reach your goals while sharing your passion with others. It also enhances your credibility and your recognition.
Once you’ve given a TEDx talk, you’re one step closer to requesting speaking fees and becoming established as an expert in your space. If you’re not sure how to land such a talk, consider following these steps we’ve outlined in a previous article. A coaching company can also help you land a TEDx talk and succeed in reaching expert public speaking status.
Writers get told to “find their voice,” which simply means write until you discover the way you naturally communicate on the page. A writing voice is the unique, written communication style each writer brings to their work. Just as every writer has a unique voice, every speaker has a unique voice.
As you practice sharing your passion with others, take note of:
The vocabulary you use
How you speak:
- Come-alongside approach
Noticing these different points will help you articulate your most authentic speaking voice. The more time you spend talking about your passion, the easier it will be to find your voice. Your voice will develop as you do, so take your time and enjoy the process.
Entering the Limelight
It’s time to start your public speaking journey. You’ve found a theme and understand that the 7 percent rule (what you say) starts with your passion. You’ve spent the necessary time identifying your why, which will impact how you talk about it (the 38 percent rule).
You’ve also clarified your story. You are equipped to get comfortable on stage (the 55 percent rule). You know you can start sharing your story, even today, and you have the public speaking forums and TED talk goals to start finding your speaking voice.
What’s next? It’s time to take that first step. Get your thoughts in front of an audience. Sharing your story can impact hundreds, thousands, and millions of people. Simply taking that first step can influence countless individuals.
It may feel intimidating, but you can do this. First, choose the step that’s best for you, and then take it. Don’t let fear hold you back from your potential.