The smartest insights ever about public speaking

Mark Twain and Winston Churchill are but two of the luminaries who have spoken about speaking. Here are their insights, and what they mean to you.

Public speaking evokes change in the lives around us. It helps you to be of service and share your passions and gifts. Becoming a better speaker and communicator is a way to reach all of these goals.

Luckily, there are many who have walked the path of better speaking. Here are five of the smartest things ever said about public speaking to help you become a more passionate, connected, and successful speaker.

There are only two types of speakers in the world: (1) the nervous and (2) liars.

― Mark Twain

You’re nervous. I’m nervous. The most experienced speakers still get nervous. Let’s face it—you might never get over your public speaking anxiety. You can learn to cope, thrive, and fly to speaking success despite the stampede of horses in your stomach and your knocking knees.

Accept the nervousness as a natural part of caring your about your audience. My best tip to help you deal with those presentation jitters: Know your introduction. By the time your introduction is over, the adrenaline subsides and your nervousness will be behind you.

A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.
― Winston Churchill

Ahhh, Winston, you cheeky minx, teasing us with such a great quotation. I often tell my clients to serve their audiences’ needs, but you can’t solve all their problems. Create interest and buzz in your talk, but keep it short. Like a beautiful woman in a sexy outfit, you don’t have to give all your secrets away. Now, if only someone would tell some of the Hollywood starlets this.

90 percent of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.

― Somers White

Preparation and practice are the foundation for a successful speech. You should never wing it. You have to practice. Everyone tells you that practice is key. Not many people discuss how to practice a speech. Doing so seems weird—standing in your living room talking to no one but your pets. Do you need a process for practicing your presentation? Download the guide for practicing your presentation in just 10 minutes a day. You’ll be prepared for success the next time your step on the stage.

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

― Carl W. Buechner

Speaking is about creating an emotional connection with the audience. Always ask yourself what you want your audience to feel as the last word falls from your lips. Building a relationship with your audience is the most powerful thing you can do as a speaker. Your vulnerability is the key to fostering connection. Be exactly who you are. There should be no difference between how you are onstage versus how you are offstage. Your audience feels because you are real.

No one ever complains about a speech being too short.

― Ira Hayes

The greatest show of respect you can ever give your audience is to end your speech on time. Better yet, end it early. No audience has ever said “Man, I wish that speaker went over by 15 minutes.” Time limits are there for a reason. Respect those limits to show you care about your audience.

What is the smartest piece of advice you ever received about giving a speech?

A version of this article first appeared on Dr. Michelle Mazur’s website.

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