It's a known fact that legendary investor Warren Buffett grew up terrified of public speaking. Terrified to the point of losing his lunch. He once told the BBC, "I couldn't do it. I mean I would throw up and everything."
That is, until Buffett took a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. That course ended up changing his life. To this day, the only thing you'll see hanging from his office wall is the certification from Carnegie's course.
Public speaking involves communicating your message at a high level to persuade others. But you don't need to be a public speaker to be successful. What you do need, however, is the ability to effectively communicate, period.
In a video posted on LinkedIn, Buffett said,
If you can't communicate, it's like winking at a girl in the dark--nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.
Since joining the speaking circuit to deliver my message, I've had to learn some hard lessons on becoming a better, more confident communicator. Here are three simple tips that I would recommend that have worked for me.
1. Be a storyteller
Billionaire Richard Branson wrote in 2016, "Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you also have to be a storyteller." The reason it works is that stories build trust with your audience, or the person sitting across from you in a one-on-one meeting. Branson adds, "Storytelling is as old as the campfire and as young as a tweet. What moves people is someone who is credible."
Take Steve Jobs, for example. His presentation of the iPhone in 2007 is still one of the best business speeches ever delivered. Jobs captivated us with a simple story that inspired us to own an iPhone.
2. Watch other speakers
How do you know what good public speaking looks like? Watch the best speakers do it. Learning from other people's styles is a great way to improve your own. When you observe the best speakers communicate, the point is not to copy their delivery as your own--that's just disingenuous and fake. What you want to study and pick up from the best in the business (think Simon Sinek) is how to master:
- Your introduction: Does your first sentence or intro engage and grab your audience's attention? Does it involve a personal story?
- Your main message: Is the structure of your message easy to follow? Does your audience emotionally connect to the message?
- Your conclusion: Is it clear, concise, and memorable? Is there a strong takeaway with a compelling call to action?
3. Watch yourself
A great way to improve your speaking and communication is to record and watch yourself speak for a few minutes. Ask yourself a question like, "What is your purpose in life?" Then listen and take notes of what worked and didn't work. Practice over and over for a few days until you get comfortable with how you're presenting yourself. You'll soon notice how much more confident you'll sound after several tries.