What does it take to be great at public speaking?

In many businesses discussions are going on about whether or not people from the business should be speaking at conferences.

They debate whether it is financially worth it, about the marketing value, about whether or not it will bring in new business. Public speaking is on the agenda in every marketing department or agency.

We can end all those debates right here: yes, public speaking is absolutely worth it.

BUT there is a catch…

Public speaking at conferences is only worth it when done right.

That, of course, is the case with most things. Why do something if you’re not doing it right? It seems obvious that when you are going to speak at a conference, you make an effort. Whether it’s the initiative of a business or an individual, the intention is the same: to do a great job.

But if this is starting point, how come when you go to the events in the digital marketing industry, it seems like only a fraction of the speakers actually does a great job?

Is it a lack of effort? Maybe, in some cases, but often not.

Is it a lack of skill? You could argue that being a public speaker requires a specific skill, that it is a talent. But this skill can be learned. You can improve your public speaking skills if you want.

So what is it? In most cases, it is the lack of preparation and practice.

Public speaking requires preparation. I have been coaching speakers for a while now and I believe almost anyone can be a reasonably good speaker. But only those that have the right preparation, can be a great speaker.

Who should be speaking?

Can anyone be a good public speaker? Yes, I do believe anyone can be a good public speaker. If you stick to some basic principles, you will be able to tell a good story on stage. To be a great speaker requires more effort.

What does it take to do it?

How do you become a great public speaker? Or better said: how do you become the best in public speaking? How do you get those speaking engagements you always wanted?

It takes effort.

The first step to learn public speaking is that you need to understand you need to make an effort.

To become a great public speaker, you will need practice. You will need to read. You will need to watch other presenters. And you will need to do a public speaking course or get coaching.

There is no speaker that can’t use training in public speaking. And there is no great speaker out there that hasn’t been trained. Do you think Obama ‘just did it’? Do you think Seth Godin was always able to present the way he can now? Do you think the world champion of public speaking got there out of the blue?

No, they didn’t. They all developed their public speaking skills. Just like Messi and Ronaldo train their skills, like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer do. Like any top athlete, a top speaker needs to practice. Needs to train. So take your first step: start working on your public speaking skills.

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