If you don’t feel some emotion while talking, it can’t be a great speech.
How to speak better than 80% of people:
Cheatsheet of Speaking Tips (click on links for hyperprecise examples)
Around the start of my gap year, I was reflecting on what I valued and what I wanted to achieve. I knew that any great human accomplishment was a team effort. So learning to better interact and work with others was one of my main priorities.
Speaking more effectively was part of that larger goal. But I didn’t really know how to get started. I started half-finished notes on body language books, I looked at Youtube videos with those Top Five ____ lists, and I looked into local Toastmasters chapters.
But every resource I found on public speaking felt ‘academic’ or ‘theoretical.’ That’s why I decided to take my education into my own hands. I set myself a weekly challenge to practice public speaking and research a great public speaker to learn from.
At the start, I didn’t know whether I would ever finish this challenge. Now, I can say that I missed only one week (not because I didn’t do the challenge, but because I forgot to upload a video). And I’m very very glad that I took the time to invest in this skill while I wasn’t bombarded by the artificial busy-ness of university.
Cut to the Chase:
I’ve probably spent hundreds of hours intentionally learning and practicing public speaking. I could send you minute tips and tricks to think about down to the exact video and timestamp. And yet, I’ve learned that being able to name the technicalities isn’t what matters.
The best decision I made during my speaking challenge was to intentionally practice every week. I held myself accountable by uploading a Youtube video to practice speaking weekly. After the challenge now, I have much more information about public speaking than midway. But honestly, I was a more effective speaker midway because I was intentionally focusing on practicing every week!
So if you’re looking to speak effectively, the simple advice is this: ditch the ‘raw content’ (whether it’s some great book or this website) and start scheduling time to intentionally practice into your calendar.
As a last note, I’ve done my best in the sections above to really PRIORITISE which speaking lessons matter in which order. I consistently find that people neglect the most simple advice: what you say > how you say it.
Certainly, there are lots of marketing moguls who’ve made millions saying marvellous-sounding abstractions that aren’t specific enough to matter. (1, 2) There are also good, but not great, speeches which follow every rule in the book, but they don’t inspire. (no offense)
Public speaking is a tool that could inspire millions to grow. Or it could addict millions to screens. Or it could lead millions to die.
If you wish to dedicate yourself to the path of the orator, I welcome you to a human tradition predating history. Though I also hope you will use this power with the responsibility it demands.
In somber reflection,
Raw notes here.