Maria Tecce Voice and Speech Coach Author

Great public speakers are made, not born.

‘Oh, she’s was born to be a public speaker.’  ‘He’s such a natural!’

Well… not really.  There’s a great myth that makes the rounds every now and then.  It purports that there are certain anointed people who came out of the womb with the skills to be amazing speakers and presenters.

I’m here to assure you that this is a myth.  And a myth that keeps professionals from becoming the amazing, passionate, and powerful public speakers they want to be.

Yes, if your mother is a chef you might have an aptitude for cooking.  Or if your Dad is a fisherman you might have a yearning to spend your life on the sea.

But in the main, great public speaking and presenting is a skill like any other, like riding a bike, driving a car, or learning to make pasta carbonara.  And like any other skill you need the basics, a good teacher, and lots of specific practice.

What IS true is that people who make it look easy have worked very hard, learned and observed from the best, and practiced for hours, months, and years to make it look like they were born to do it.

Here are 3 strategies to help you become the speaker you want to be and remind you that great speakers are made, not born.


Great Public Speakers Rock Basic Skills And Techniques

Learning the basics is a perfect way to start your journey to becoming a great public speaker.  Every speaker worth their salt has clear strategies they come back to again and again when it comes to presenting and speaking.

The basics start with building up your toolbox of skills.  This is important because you can use these skills in any communication situation.  When you have a full arsenal of communication weapons, you are armed and ready to tackle any speaking situation.

First off are physical presence skills, like using your hands, having an open body, using eye contact, and good breathing technique.  These skills are pertinent in both face to face situations as well as Zoom calls.

Your vocal presence techniques are the next stop on the journey in filling up your toolbox.  How you delivery your message, the life, colour, and energy in your words, and avoiding a monotone delivery are essential in becoming a great speaker.


Practice, Practice, Practice To Be A Great Public Speaker

I remember hearing an interview with Tony Robbins, a top motivational and leadership speaker, and when asked how long it took him to create and practice a 2-hour talk, he said, ‘Months.’.

Great public speakers are craftsmen.  They spend a lot of time crafting their message and crafting the way they deliver that message.  And it isn’t just repeating the same thing over and over again for the sake of it; they are specific as to what they are practicing and why.

This is where a good coach comes in.  No one becomes a great speaker on their own.  Great public speakers have a team around them who they can bounce ideas off of and get feedback.  And they have a clear plan of action to help them practice with purpose and clarity.

When you approach practicing and preparing, get a clear plan in place so you know what you’re practicing and why.  This specificity will save you time because you are being clear about your plan.  And you’ll get more value out of that practice because you’re being clear about what and why your practicing.


Great Speakers Steal Like An Artist

Now, this isn’t about imitation or plagiarism.  This is about watching your heroes and noticing what works for them and trying it for yourself.  The American poet Austin Kleon wrote a book called ‘Steal Like An Artist’ which talks about how we learn from and celebrate our heroes.

As a creative person (and you are a ‘creative’ when you create and deliver speeches or presentations) you become attuned to watching other people and noticing what they’re doing well that you like.  This could be a hand gesture, the way they use eye contact, or the musicality in their vocal delivery.

You in turn try these observed habits out for yourself.  This is the learning process.  It’s the way children learn everything from speech, gestures, to standing, sitting, and how to hold a fork.  You see how Mom does something, you copy it, and then it becomes your own.

It’s not about imitation.  It’s about learning from watching and then doing.

“We want you to take from us.  We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal.  You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice.  And that’s how you begin.  And then one day, someone will steal from you.”

 – Francis Ford Coppola

Great public speakers are made, not born.

The skills and techniques you need to become the authentic, memorable, powerful, joyful speaker you want to be are there for the taking.

So begin by filling up that toolbox, that arsenal of skills that form the foundation of your presenting and public speaking regime.

Practice and prepare with purpose and clarity.  Get a good coach to stay by your side and guide you every step of the way.  And watch and learn from the best.  Take what works for you and leave the rest.

Great public speaking is a skill.  And a skill can be learned and practiced by anyone.  Nobody said it would be easy, but it can be done and you can do it.


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