The 5 Principles That Create A World Class Speaker
Updated: Sep 27, 2018
Raw talent has been accredited for the success of many speakers. But here’s the thing: great public speakers get to where they are with more than natural gifts alone. Talent only gets you so far.
Rather, let's try looking at public speaking as a skill.
And like all skills, you first have to learn them, practice them, and hone them for long periods of time before you see the results. Those effective speakers you see on stage - you’d better believe that they spent months upon months and trained themselves to be so!
Public speaking is a performing art that you too can learn and master if you are willing to take the time to work at it.
The truth is, if you aren’t committed to practicing and working on honing your skill, you will never be able to master the art of public speaking. However, if are willing to put in the time and the effort, you can grow your skill and very quickly rise to become a true master of public speaking — no matter how shy, nervous, or apprehensive you may be about the subject.
To help you on this journey, we’ll share with you 6 Principles that the greatest speakers adhere to. These principles (some secret!) have aided countless speakers on their own adventures to seek out and discover the unique art form of speaking in public.
Strap yourself in, and let’s begin.
Principle #1 Everyone is afraid of Public Speaking
Everyone in the world is afraid of public speaking to some degree. This is one of the biggest things to remember - that most people are afraid of public speaking in their own way, even if they are professional speakers.
Great speakers hold on to this principle and aren’t as worried about being nervous when they speak. They know it’s completely natural, that the audience that you are speaking to likely also know your pain and understand the nerves.
We’ve mentioned this before in a previous article: public speaking is considered the most common phobia (also known as glossophobia)— 3 out of 4 people suffer from speech anxiety and people fear public speaking more than spiders, heights, or even death.
The next time you’re on stage, don’t single yourself out as the nervous one. Just like how you gain a certain comfort from knowing that your friend gave the wrong answer on a test like you did, so too will you when you know that every speaker also has to deal with their nerves.
Principle #2 It’s a conversation
People want to listen to someone who is interesting, relaxed, and comfortable in their own skin. The confidence lends the security that what the speaker has to say is accurate and true. In the routine conversations we have every day, we have no problem being ourselves and letting things slip now and then. However, all this changes when we’re up on the stage.
This is only natural: to focus too much on the “public” that we lose sight of the “speaking”. Effective speakers follow this simple rule: to focus more on the “speaking” and less on the “public”.
Think of it as a conversation between you and the audience. If you can carry on a relaxed conversation with one or two people, you can give a great speech. It doesn’t matter what your topic is. It could be about global warming, people who inspire you, a motivational talk or heck, even about politics. As long you focus on your speech and how you deliver it, then your audience will bound to stick to your every word.
Principle #3 Mistakes are A-Okay
Even the most accomplished public speaker will make a mistake at some point. We always overreact to our own mistakes. And that’s a fact. When we dwell incessantly on our past mistakes our confidence can wear down very quickly.
The most important thing a speaker can do after making a mistake is to keep going. Don’t stop and—unless the mistake was truly earth shattering—never apologize to the audience for it. Without your script in their hands, the audience won’t know if you left out a word, missed a paragraph, or even skipped a whole page.
Because “to err is human,” a mistake can actually work for you, because it allows your audience to identify with you. People don’t want to hear from someone who is “perfect;” they will relate much more easily to someone who is real.
Principle #4 Make it personal
Here’s another thing all great speakers do: they tell stories.
A great speech isn’t made up of statistics, numbers and facts. Far from it, a great speech makes people want to listen because of the stories it contains. Real-life experiences – the victories, sadness, and humorous encounters that we have in life.
Whatever the topic, audiences respond best when speakers personalize their communication. Take every opportunity to put a face on the facts of your presentation. Whenever possible, include personal details in your public speaking. Not only will it make your listeners warm up to you, but you’d be surprised at how much it calms your nerves.
Principle $5 The Cliffhanger
I’ve always been confused by the saying “less is more”. This phrase is so context specific, that I usually have no idea what to make of it.
But now I do! At the end of the presentation, you rarely hear people saying: “I wish that speaker had spoken longer”. However, we can’t count has this thought crossed minds: “I’m glad that speech is over. It seemed to go on forever!”
The final principle is vital to make people wanting for more. Here’s what you’re going to have to do: always end your presentation earlier than expected.
Sticking to the above principles would have gotten you to a sweet spot with audiences. At this point, it’s highly likely that they’re still captivated by you and what you have to say. Unfortunately, despite how much you want to go on, it’s better to conclude your presentation then and there and leave audiences wanting for more.