It was Plato who said that “Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men”. The ancient philosophical masters recognized it, even back then before mass media, before the internet, how important spoken words are.
The thing is, you should not just say whatever pops into your mind. There is a subtlety required in speaking with other people, and more so when speaking publicly. This is also the reason why Plato said it can rule the minds of men. It can persuade. It can convince. It can inspire.
And it is for these reasons why we don’t think that it is just merely a “soft skill”. It is a requirement if you want to do well in whatever career path you’ve chosen.
In fact, here are three key benefits you’ll get once you’ve mastered it:
- You will be able to sell anything. That million-dollar pitch. Your company’s worst-performing product. Yourself, to gain employment and finally land that dream promotion! The list goes on…
- You will be able to change other people’s minds. The competitor is about to sign a big contract from the client you’re also targeting for? It’s not too late. You can still change the tides!
- You will be able to inspire and motivate. Finally, whenever you observe your team falling a little bit behind, or getting too stressed, overwhelmed, and demotivated…imagine having the power to boost their morale after just a short pep talk?
Pretty powerful, right? It’s a shame that some people call this skill “soft”.
In this article, we are going to share with you the secrets to unlocking public speaking. We are going to share with you three proven powerful public speakers and tips on how to improve your skills, lifted from their own experiences! Ready? Clear your throat and let’s get started.
Public Mover #1: Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of almost $83 billion. He is also known as one of the smartest investors of all time, even earning him the nickname the “Oracle of Omaha”.
Now, do you know what Buffett considers the secret to his success? Yes, you’ve guessed it. It’s public speaking. In fact, he claims that mastering the art of public speaking can raise a person’s value by 50%!
Here are three lessons that we can learn from Buffett’s experience:
1. Take a lesson. Buffett proudly displays his certificate on a Dale Carnegie public speaking course he took back in 1952. The actual course can be taken in person. All you need to do is sign up on their website. However, for those who are looking for a dynamic online version from the University of Washington, then we recommend taking “Effective Communication: Writing, Design, and Presentation” in Coursera. This course has over 13,000 enrollees! Once you’re done, you can put the genuine certificate in your LinkedIn profile and/or your CV.
2. Raise your awareness. If there’s one public speaking technique that Buffett loves using, it’s using analogies. The problem is, how can you use them if you don’t know any? Take cues from history, popular fiction, even current events, and social influencers. One of Buffett’s recent analogies (and a powerful one, at that) is about LeBron James, saying “If you have LeBron James on your team, don’t take him out of the game just to make room for someone else. … It’s crazy to put money into your 20th choice rather than your first choice.”
3. Don’t let nerves hold you down. It is absolutely normal to feel butterflies in your stomach, so don’t let it hold you down. In fact, Buffett even had a little bit too much in the past when he dropped out of the Dale Carnegie course after signing up for it for the first time. Fortunately, he was able to win through his fear and was able to complete the course upon the second time of signing since it changed his life forever.
Anyway, let’s now move on to the second public mover. *Drum roll*
Public Mover #2: Jordan Belfort
From the Oracle of Omaha, let us now move on to the Wolf of Wall Street. Have you seen his biographical film starring Leonardo di Caprio? It is a must-watch for any budding public mover and investor.
We understand that a lot of people have a love and hate relationship with him, especially since he spent 22 months incarcerated for his misdeeds, BUT that doesn’t alter the fact that he is one of the most efficient public speakers who ever lived! As for the lessons we can learn from him, we got two for you:
4. Focus on the “why”. According to Jordan Belfort, “If you give people a good enough ‘why’, they will always figure out the ‘how’.” People usually take this as valuable advice on how to start a business. The road is going to be rough and you need a solid “why” that can serve as a mantra during those when all you want to do is give up.
However, we can also use that in public speaking. Trying to convince someone to buy something? Then focus on the “why”, and if they don’t have one, then it’s your responsibility as a public mover to figure out the answer and give it to them.
5.The words “must” and “will” are very powerful. You can use them to motivate yourself to push through, or better yet, you can use them to move other people.
Public Mover #3: Chris Anderson
Finally, an article on how powerful public speaking is will never be complete without talking about TED and one of its founders, Chris Anderson. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, then chances are, you have probably heard of TED talks. TED is a media organization who publishes moving talks online from the best public movers—Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) and Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft) included—for FREE.
They have a vast library on their website and on YouTube. But check those out later, though, and learn the last two tips we have for you from Chris Anderson:
6. Speaking to others has one important goal and that is to convey an idea. Focus on that. Ideas are abstract, so how are you going to convey them with words? Should you use difficult concepts or use simple words instead? Will you be able to express it more clearly with visual props or none at all? There are a lot of different elements that go into the writing of public talks, but ultimately what’s important is to be able to get the message across in the easiest and most understandable way.
7. Connect with your audience. Finally, you should learn how to connect with your audience. How do you do that? Apparently, according to Anderson himself, this comes out naturally when you’ve effectively conveyed the idea that we were talking about a while ago.Fortunately for us, Chris Anderson offers an online course over at Udemy for those who want to learn more about public speaking directly from him! We highly recommend that you check that out pronto.
The Bottom Line
Public speaking is a life skill that everyone, not just entrepreneurs or investors (and most of all, rich people), should invest in. It has the power to change your life and the lives of the people you interact with every single day. So get that pen and paper out, make an outline, turn it into a speech, and practice in front of the mirror today. Who knows? You might just be the next TED speaker we’ll all be listening to a year from now!
To help you get started in improving your public speaking, I suggest this online course from University of Washington and Coursera, Introduction to Public Speaking. This course gives you a reliable model for preparing and delivering effective presentations. It has over 67,900 enrollees already. “f you’re a beginner, this course will help you quickly master the fundamentals of speaking. If you’re a seasoned speaker, this course will help you better understand public speaking and push you to the next level.” According to the course syllabus.
Lastly, we have a FREE gift for you to help you further improve your public speaking. Simply plug in your email and subscribe (check the right column bar) and get a free copy of our The Ultimate Public Speaking and Presentation Cheat Sheet just for you!
Good luck on your next speech! Tell me how it went and I’ll tell you what we can improve on, we’re in this together!