In my last Leading Thoughts, I told you about something vitally important that Warren Buffet said. He shocked a great many people when he declared recently that it is possible for nearly everyone to increase their worth by 50%. What did he mean? He explained that most people can increase their value by nearly half simply by doing what he had to do: become a better public speaker.
You can read about Mr. Buffett’s statement here.
Now, I told you in that last Leading Thoughts that though I was thrilled to hear an eminent person like Warren Buffett say this, it came as no surprise to me. My firm coaches leaders to become better speakers and I have often seen people rise in effectiveness, influence, and income simply by following Mr. Buffett’s suggestion: Speak Better!
Now, let’s get practical. Let me offer the best suggestions I have to help you become a better speaker.
First, listen to great speeches. You won’t become a fine speaker until you have absorbed fine speaking into your being. Go on YouTube and listen to Ronald Reagan or John Kennedy or Martin Luther King or whoever else you admire who is a great orator. Watch TED talks for a while. Get a sense of how introductions work, what good cadence is like, how humor is best employed, how voices are like musical instruments in their range, and how a good close seals a powerful speech.
Second, listen to yourself. I know. It’s painful. If your organization or sponsor routinely records your speaking, always get access to a copy. If you have to, record yourself using your cell phone. Listen to what you’ve said. Get others to listen. Get feedback. Build this feedback into your future speaking. Trust me, I hate doing this as much as you probably do, but it is essential.
Third, read good books about public speaking. Here is a short list to get you started: Simply Speaking by Peggy Noonan (also published as On Speaking Well), The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo, Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo.
Fourth, speak often. You will get better at what you do often if you do it with informed intent. Don’t hide. Get in front of people, speak, get feedback, then speak more. It is the only way to rise in this art.
Finally, get coaching. A good speaker coach can make a huge difference. In fact, I’ll say this: If your leadership trajectory is significantly determined by how well you speak publicly, time with a coach is essential. Yes it will take valuable time. Yes it is expensive. Yet it will pay for itself many times over in your life.
By the way, don’t just get coaching for yourself. Most speaker coaches also do seminars for groups. Make sure you bring someone into your firm to help you build a culture of presentation excellence.
And, yes, my firm does all of this. You can check us out here, but we aren’t the only ones who do this. The point is to get the help you need.
Think about it. Warren Buffett and I both believe that in the next few months, you can add fifty percent to your value. Let that steep in your mind. Then take action.