Communication Rebel Blog

5 of the Smartest Things Ever Said About Public Speaking

Public speaking evokes change in the lives around us. It allows you to be of service and share your passions and gifts. Becoming a better speaker and communicator is a way to reach all of these goals. Luckily, there are many who walked the path of better speaking. Here are 5 of the smartest things ever said about public speaking that will help you become a more passionate, connected, and successful speaker.

There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars. – Mark Twain

Speaking Nerves are NormalYou're nervous. I'm nervous. The most experienced speaker's still get nervous. Let's face it – you will never get over your public speaking anxiety. You can learn to cope, thrive, and fly to speaking success despite the stampede of horses in your stomach and your knocking knees. Accept the nervousness as a natural part of caring your about your audience. My best tip to help you deal with those presentation jitters – know your introduction. By the time your introduction is over, the adrenaline subsides and your nerves will be behind you.

A good speech should be like a woman's skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short good speechenough to create interest.
― Winston Churchill

Ahh Winston, you cheeky minx, teasing us with such a great quotation. I often tell my clients to serve the audience's needs, but you can't solve all their problems. Create interest and buzz in your talk, but keep it short. Like a beautiful women in a sexy outfit, you don't have to give all your secrets away. Now, if only would tell some of the Hollywood starlets this!

90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform. – Somers White

Preparation and practice are the foundation for a successful speech. You can never just wing it. You have to practice. Everyone tells you that practice is key. Not many people discuss HOW to practice a speech. Practicing a speech is weird. Standing in your living room talking to no one but the audience of your pets. Do you need a process for practicing your presentation? Download the guide for practicing your presentation in just 10 minutes a day. You'll be prepared for success the next time your step on the stage.

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. – Carl W. Buechner

Never forget how you made them FeelSpeaking is about creating an emotional connection with the audience. Always ask yourself what do you want your audience to feel as the last word falls from your lips. Building a relationship with your audience is the most powerful thing you can do as a speaker. Your vulnerability is the key to fostering connection. Be exactly who you. There should be no difference between how you are on-stage versus how you are off-stage. Your audiences feels because you are real.

No one ever complains about a speech being too short! – Ira Hayes

The greatest show of respect you can ever give your audience is to end your speech on time. Better yet, end your speech early. No audience has ever said “Man, I wish that speaker went over by 15 minutes.” Time limits are there for reason. Respect those limits and show you care about your audience.

What is the smartest piece of advice you ever received about giving a speech? Post it in the comments below.

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  • Yet another great post, Michelle! The practice part is so true. The best presenters that seem so down to earth, connected to their audience and off the cuff? They’re practiced. In High School I thought I could wing it. As an adult I know that passion for my topic is important but there’s more to it than just getting up there and talking if I want people to feel the message. Thanks for your tips and reminders and for raising the bar for all of us!

    • Thank you Alli for your comment! I agree with the practice part. There is something about practiced spontaneity in presentation. We practice that spontaneity by giving lots and lots of presentations. We can never wing it – practice is the best way to prepare.

  • Joe Talcott

    Years ago I asked a very accomplished speaker (who became a good friend) about his public speaking talent. He said “Joe, if you just show some enthusiasm and energy, you’ll be better than 80 percent of the others out there”.

    Of course he also did the things mentioned in your article. But his enthusiasm was contagious and did separate him from the rest.

    • I read a research article recently that said the top 3 things audiences want is passion, interaction and clarity. Enthusiasm is contagious. Of course you got to back up passion with content, but content with no passion is extremely dry. Thanks for your comment, Joe!

  • Great post, thanks!
    There is also one quote from French singer Georges Brassens, speaking about how he used to work. Not especially about public speaking but still useful in this context. Here is the translation: “I ponder my text until I’m tired of it. And then I start again. And when I’ve done seven or eight versions, at some point I can’t go further. So I tell myself it’s fine.”

    • Pascal – I love that quote. I was telling a client the other that most speakers (even pro who get paid big money) are lazy with their words. They don’t spend enough time with their word choice. They settle for good enough instead of outstanding. As a speaker, our words are our primary tool. It’s important to ponder them.

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