Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why You Must Develop the Skill of Public Speaking

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I’m attending the Dynamic Communicators Workshop this week, which I found out about via Ken Davis, the founder. I’m hoping that it will make me a better speaker.

For years, I’ve avoided public speaking, because I’ve been afraid. Of what, I’m not exactly sure. And isn’t that how fear always operates? By veiling itself in mystery?

It’s time that you and I both faced some myths about this irrational fear.

Public Speaking Photo

Photo by Hakan Dahlstrom (Creative Commons)

Even though I was an accomplished actor and debater in college, I’ve avoided public speaking since I graduated, because I believed some common myths about it. Not to mention, I was just plain scared.

A lot of people are afraid of speaking in public. The problem? They’re believing lies.

Here are some of the myths I believed about public speaking (maybe you’re prone to some of these, as well):

MYTH #1: Public speaking doesn’t do any good

With all the empty promises offered by politicians and movie stars in our world, it’s not uncommon to have your guard up against public speaking.

It has been misused by people in power. And many of us have been unfortunately disappointed with mere words.

MYTH #2: Talk is cheap

This is, in fact, true. Kind of. Words without action ring empty and hollow.

So, why, then, bother saying anything at all — be it from a stage, a blog, or on television?

Isn’t it better to simply sit down and shut your mouth?

MYTH #3: Writers don’t need to be speakers

Writers write. Speakers speak. 

Leave all that presenting and wooing to people who are gifted at it. That’s what I thought. I was a writer. Not a speaker.

If I ever published a book, I would just have to hire Sean Connery or Morgan Freeman to do the audio. (I was gunning for Freeman.)

I doubted I could ever be talented at public speaking, that I could ever be a great speaker. And so, I disqualified myself before ever really trying.

I was wrong. Public speaking is both an art and craft. And like any skill, it can be developed.

This has been incredibly empowering — to realize that just because I wasn’t born with a microphone attached to my lips that I can, in fact, become a better speaker. To counter the lies and myths I’ve believed, I’m learning some amazing facts about public speaking:

FACT #1: Public speaking can change the world

In fact, it already has. Many times over.

If you saw The King’s Speech, you know what I’m talking about. From politicians to religious leaders, the world has seen how speakers can make a difference — for good and for evil.

Hitler mobilized a movement of racism and hatred in the early twentieth century with emphatic public speeches, and Martin Luther King, Jr. undid a lot of that work in the same century with the same gift.

From Jesus to Gandhi, we have already seen the potency of public speaking. Communication can change the world.

FACT #2: Words are powerful tools

As I’ve said before, words matter.

Modern society has made words cheap. We’ve thrown away extensive vocabularies in exchange for pop culture idioms and cool catch phrases. But words can still motivate and mobilize. The spoken word may, in fact, be the most powerful medium we have.

Your words (when accompanied with action) can have an incredible impact. Don’t use them lightly.

FACT #3: Writers must become better public speakers

In today’s economy, writers must develop their platforms.

And now, more than ever, public speaking is an essential skill for authors. Speaking engagements are a great way to grow your audience, sell books, and gain influence.

In my limited experience, I’ve already seen how important it is to use this skill to share ideas and network.

Since a recent local speaking engagement, I’ve had the opportunity to guest post on multiple blogs, many of which came about through my Podcamp talk.

So I’m excited (and scared) to develop this skill of public speaking that will benefit me as a writer and communicator.

If you’d like to follow along this week, I’ll be posting my thoughts on the DCW blog daily. You can also follow the event on Twitter and Facebook.

Do you think public speaking matters? Why?

Recommended reading: 10 Tips for Public Speaking

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About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • Charlie Chang

    Nice Jeff. Keep it up. When I got my new job last year I joined the club Toastmasters which is all about public speaking and giving speeches. I’ve done 2 so far and working on a 3rd speech for next month.

    nicodemusatnite.com

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Very cool, Charlie.

  • Anonymous

    I still believe the very best way to sell books is to speak. Once someone “knows” you through public speaking (if they like you), they naturally want to know you more through your prose.

    My best tip is to not become a robot. Once I’d been critiqued about my speaking (a good practice). Although some of the critique was helpful, most wasn’t. Why? Because the critiquer didn’t like the way I spoke, my style. I shut down after that, avoiding public speaking, believing I was a hack and couldn’t speak.

    But then the Lord encouraged me to be all myself. To hone my craft at speaking, of course, but to keep my voice, my delivery, my stories. The result? Talks that transformed lives.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      awesome. love that, Mary. Thanks for sharing!

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  • http://thewholedangthing.wordpress.com Ben Emerson

    People spoke before they were writing things down. So I totally agree with you. I am one of those people who loves public speaking and actually feels more comfortable in front of a group than with individuals.

    I have watched people’s hearts change with well spoken and well timed words. Oh yes, they are powerful.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Awesome, ben. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://dianerivers.wordpress.com Diane Rivers

    Like all skills, I think speaking requires practice. (I’ve listened to plenty of speakers who could have used more practice, but I digress…) I think if you really know your subject and are passionate about it, it gets easier. Also, if you feel called by God to write and/or speak, like Mary (commenter) said, being yourself is what He requires. He will handle the rest.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Diane. Well said.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Speaking definitely requires practice!

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPaluska Peter Paluska

    Public speaking is awesome! It is an essential tool in the arsenal of the blogger, writer, and action taker. OK, my mom taught public speaking at a high school, so I’m a little biased.;)

    But seriously, if you’re not thinking about speaking as an essential income stream for your career as one of the above, or other similar professions, you ought to start right away!

    Way to take action once again, Jeff!

    Peter

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks Peter. Had our first session tonight. It was good but hard.

  • Jonathan

    how did God create the world? i don’t know how or why, but speaking changes and motivates people. a great speech can launch a war, inspire hope, break a heart, lift a spirit, crash a stock market, or even change history. how did God create the world? HE didn’t write it…HE spoke it…

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Wow.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Procter

    Excellent post, Jeff!
    Thank you for sharing this insight.

    I’d really like to get develop my public speaking skills and I’ve struggled with overcoming the myths.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, KC.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com Michele

    Great insights, Jeff. Thanks for your transparency about your speaking journey. For the majority of my life, speaking was my greatest fear. But I’ve come to believe, like you, that our words are powerful. We’ve been entrusted with a Message, and to be able to speak about it is an honor. Focusing on the message helps to diminish my fear, because then it’s no longer about me.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Well said, Michele. Thanks for all that you do.

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  • Jaxx

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  • http://twitter.com/travlmotivation Sandra D

    I think that public speaking is a great way to get across what you’re trying to say on a more personal note than from typing away behind the screen. It gives what is being said more depth and meaning as the listeners can see the belief and enthusiasm coming from the speaker and be captivated by it all. I have just launched a blog to inspire and motivate people to travel (travelmotivation.co.uk) and look to one day getting into public speaking to spread the word so to speak.

    Thanks for a great article,

    Sandra
    travelmotivation.co.uk

  • http://isaiahmjackson.com/ Isaiah Jackson

    This is one reason why I’m always doing videos. I see that it will help with the public speaking a little bit.

    Then I can just start doing Google Hangouts to really get good at public speaking.

    - Isaiah Jackson

  • Mehmood Khan

    Can Any one Please Tell me ,, How i get rid oh my hesitation on stage ,while discussion on some topic with some colleagues…???

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