It wasn’t that long ago that Warren Buffett surprised the business world by saying that there was a way everyone could increase their value by 50%. Trust me, everyone leaned in. What was it? Improve your speaking ability.
Mr. Buffett knew this because he was a terrible speaker earlier in his life. The mere idea of speaking before a crowd terrified him. Then he took a Dale Carnegie Course. It changed him and made him more successful. Now, he’s one of the richest and most generous men in the world. If you visit his office today, you won’t find his diplomas hanging on the wall, and this is despite the fact he has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. What you’ll find is the certificate from that Dale Carnegie course. That’s how much learning to speak well means to Warren Buffett.
I’m never surprised by how much speaking well in public can mean to someone eager to achieve. As you probably know, one of the things my firm does is coach speakers. I’ve even admitted here in these Leading Thoughts that I’ve not mentioned speaking here as much as I should because I didn’t want you to think I was just advertising. Yet we’re beyond that now and I know you’ll take what I say as purely intended to make you a better leader.
Let me tell you a hard truth. In all of the political combat we have seen recently in Washington, DC, there is a factor in determining victory that others may not see. It’s this. Victory goes to the well-spoken.
I watch the proceedings as political events, but I also watch as a speaker coach. Some of our clients are on the House and Senate floor. I can tell you that there are folks who don’t have that strong of a case or may not even fully know the facts who are still persuasive because they communicate well. This may sound unfair and even deceptive to you but it is just a reality of leadership, particularly political leadership.
So, let me put it to you. What are you doing to improve your public speaking? What training are you providing for the folks in your firm? I’ll hit some suggestions quickly. I’m eager for you to rise and I know that your speaking ability will frankly set the limits on how high you can rise.
- Take a course. Dale Carnegie is fine. There are others. Just get trained!
- Read a book. The ones by Peggy Noonan, Carmine Gallo, and Nancy Duarte are best.
- Speak often. Just get booked and speak. Or schedule yourself in your own firm. Don’t hide from this. Ya gotta’ speak to improve at speaking!
- Always—always!—view or listen to your speeches afterward. Critique yourself. Write it down. Apply insights the next time. Always!
- Get the opinions of others. It’s painful, I know. Ask others to listen or watch. Ask for their most brutal feedback. Then do the same the next time.
- Listen to or watch great speeches. Reagan, Thatcher, Jobs, King, –whomever! Listen and learn. Let their patterns embed themselves in your mind.
- Get a coach. This is the quickest path to excellence—and the most expensive—but if it increases your worth by 50%, isn’t it a worthy investment?
That’s it. I’m not leaving you alone on this. It’s because I’m here to make you a better leader. And speaking well is essential to this goal.