You Don’t Need My Help to be a Better Speaker

There is an undeniable thirst amongst new and emerging speakers to know just how to build their speaking skills and confidence as fast as possible – and I strongly believe it is time we pushed past the status quo, the advice to do as many free and low-bono speaking engagements as fast as possible; that it is always about speaking in a room and pursuing constructive insights from those we admire and respect. (And sometimes those we don’t).

Through conversations in recent days I have come to realise a belief I hold to be true, and core to who I have become, is the only reason I have been able to create a world of my own design goes beyond the investment I have made over 15 years in crafting my own ability to speak, sell, pitch and negotiate.

It is that I have literally inhaled millions of words in thousands of ways, and in doing so deepened my knowledge of the written and spoken word and to use that to engage with the world around me on a deeper level whenever I choose to do so. 

In fact if you are serious about dramatically improving your ability to speak, then I can do no greater thing for you then to implore you to broaden your reading horizons. 

It is no secret that I have an interesting background; I don’t have high school qualifications, I haven’t been to university, and quite frankly right now I’m not planning to. What I do have is a life-long love of books, and all the elements they bring to play. From intense auto-biographies, to the most technical and strategic, to crime, thriller and suspense, to the Mills and Boon books that lined my grandmothers’ shelves, to the science fiction books that open us up to something completely outside our current experience. 

Broaden your horizons, diversify your exposure to language, to words and the way they are used to create different rhythms in different genres. Fall in love with the possibilities created when you know how to build the picture of an alternate world in someone’s mind, to take someone deep inside another way of thinking.   

The language we use is the most powerful weapon we hold.

Deepen it. Reinvent your vocabulary; ask those around you for the words and phrases you use frequently, that they associate with you. Do they suggest confidence, courage, mystery, intimacy, authority or intellect. Do your words reflect who you believe you are and how you perceive you are showing up in the world? 

Work out what you love, what you don’t, what resonates with you and what surprises you – then build on that. Take your words and raise them.

Ask your inner circle and raving fans for a story that reflects what makes your message special to them; the stories that land and that get their attention. The more diverse the stories that are told back to you, the more emotive the language they use back to you in relaying your own stories, the richer your message, the deeper you can engage. And do it discreetly, this is not a general shout out on Social / Digital media to make you feel better. This is a focussed, constructive exercise to connect more deeply into what matters to the people around you.

Make a list of the stories about the speakers you love, the speakers you lose work to, and the stories that you wish were being said about you as a speaker / presenter. Notice what gets your attention, think about what that means about who you want to be and how you want to be perceived, and then get out there and capture those stories for yourself by being that person who builds those stories in the mind of an audience.  

Because if confidence is a mind-game, then speaking is game which can be won in the arena of language – but only for those serious about elevating position and escalating results.