How To Become a Great Speaker 

Image @ Wikimedia

By Kris Deichler, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

"All the great speakers were bad speakers at first." 

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It won't take you more than a moment to know how you feel about speaking in public. Just the idea of having to give a speech, even to just a small group of people, can send shivers of fear down the spine of many...

Statistics vary, but it's undeniably one of the biggest and most common fears for people around the world. Forbes have reported that as many as 90% of people in the US have at least some form of anxiety about speaking in public, However, for those of us not 100% comfortable with public speaking, does that mean we're always destined to feel this way? Are great speakers born or made?

Expert communication strategist and public speaking trainer, Richard Greene, based on his 30 years of research into legends of the art, strongly believes that any person can become a great communicator or speaker.

But while it's true not all of us dream of becoming a great public 'orator', I'm sure a great many of us would love to feel more confident in our ability to express ourselves and engage other people in the way we really want to. So what do we need to understand so as to become a better and more confident communicator?....

Something We All Want At Some Level 

From legends like John F. Kennedy, who asked.... what the American people could do for their country, rather than what their country could do for them; or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who told the world about his 'civil rights' dream... to rousing moments on screen; such as Mel Gibson in blue face paint addressing a crowd of angry Scotsmen, we've all heard someone speak in a way that's given us goose bumps. We've probably all at some level wished we could speak like that too.

There's no doubt learning to become better communicators can have massive benefits for our lives. Those benefits could be anything from improving our relationships, or bringing our family closer together; to advancing our careers, leading a business, or inspiring people to support a cause - the point is, we all sit up and take notice of those orators who can communicate well.

"There is nothing like oratory, it is a skill that can turn a commoner into a king." 

~ Winston Churchill

The ONE Thing You Need

In the TED talk below, Richard Greene describes the key elements for those of us who want to improve our communication skills or become better speakers. There are key points such as tonality of voice, and body language, that are far more important than the words you use. It is indeed necessary to back your points up with facts - and always keep your message simple and to the point.

It's a really valuable talk for anyone wanting to improve their speaking ability, however, if there's ONE thing Mr Greene points out above all others - and it's something I believe we all instinctively know as well, his 7th and last rule is...

It's not what we say, but how we say it that really counts.

We've all heard things like, 'just be yourself',' 'speak from the heart' and 'be genuine', but what exactly does that mean?

What these sayings are all pointing to, is our ability to draw upon something within us that cannot be taught in any textbook, or drawn in any diagram. There isn't a mental technique or formula to follow. In other words, it's beyond the mind and is more about how we feel... because it's that feeling that goes into the words, the tone, the body language and everything else we say. It's that feeling, that focuses our mind, intensifies our state, and invigorates our creativity and expression.


Passion is something we feel when we really care about something. Something we care about so much, we really don't care what people might think of us! When we are passionate, we're willing to speak and be criticised, mocked and worse in return. It doesn't matter what others feel - because it really matters to us.

Whether it's a passion for trains or a passion for saving the planet, it's all the same energy and the more we can tap into that, the more we are connecting with a place inside of ourselves that's filled with a sense of power, strength and volition that filters into every other aspect of who we are. It gives us confidence, it gives us certainty, it gives us meaning and purpose and brings a gravitas that makes people take us seriously.

Something Anyone Can Become

So, if you want to be a great communicator, if you want to be able to inspire people, if you want people to value the things you talk about, become a more passionate person. Learn how to get out of your head and simply recounting or reciting things you've seen, heard, or read elsewhere. Get clear on what it is, and who it is you care about... and stop apologising for the passion you are feeling.

Start becoming someone who can talk about something in 100 different and engaging ways, because it feels alive inside you and in your imagination. Become someone who can inspire other people to engage with something they've never cared about before, because of how much you care, and in the process, you will become more... you!

But, if you're sitting there reading this thinking to yourself that you aren't that, or that you aren't capable of being that, then you know what you need to change first. The principle of Personal Vision states that how we see and feel about ourselves is who we become. So as long as you want to believe you can't be a passionate person, well, you won't be. But you can decide to change it and with that you can change your world!

Look at any of the most inspiring people in our history and you'll see they all found and developed this for themselves, either through choice or because of what life threw at them, but they all started out from the same place.

Here's Mr Greene's talk below. Hopefully it will inspire you to want to become a more engaging and passionate person as a result. And, if you'd like more guidance on this, please get in touch and we can tell you more.

Click here to watch a video of what many people have argued is the greatest speech ever made...

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