Opinions expressed by londonbusinessblog.com contributors are their own.
Public speaking is a great platform to build your personal brand. It builds credibility, allows you to gain exposure and gives you content that can be reused for your social media platforms. Most of the entrepreneurs I meet have inspiring stories to share and very valuable lessons to learn, yet most are hesitant to bring themselves out into the open.
There is no doubt that public speaking is intimidating and anecdotally tops the list of most people’s worst fears. And I can tell: My own journey to building my personal brand through paid public speaking did not follow a linear upward trend. After one of my first conversations, a fellow londonbusinessblog.com even told me that public speaking was not my thing and that I should give up.
Well, I didn’t give up – and while I still have a lot to learn and improve, I want to share my greatest lessons with you. These come after giving talks to audiences in North America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Here are the five steps I took to become a paid public speaker:
Related: 5 Steps to Getting Your First Paid Speaking
1. Meet successful public speakers and learn about their travels
Great speakers make it look easy. They’re on stage and just seem to speak up freely, leading us to conclude that some people just have this natural talent and ability, while others don’t. It was only after meeting some world-class public speakers and asking them questions that I discovered how much work they put into their craft and how much preparation went into each lecture. I recommend reaching out to the speakers who impress you when you attend in-person or virtual events and ask them for their top tips to improve your public speaking skills.
2. Approached public speaking as a true craft and worked relentlessly on it
Now that you know that even the highest paid speakers don’t rely solely on natural talent, but put a lot of time and effort into improving their public speaking skills, you should do the same. There are some great resources out there: books, videos, and people to follow on social media. Consume all the advice and apply it tirelessly as you practice. I consumed large amounts of content when I started, and I continue the learning journey to this day – with no intention of stopping.
I cringe when I think back to some of my early conversations and when I see my early slides. Chances are I’ll feel the same when I look back at my lectures and slides from today when I revisit them in the future. That is the nature of progress. This is a bad news/good news situation. The bad news is you can’t shorten this. No matter how much you practice in front of a camera or a mirror at home or in the office, it’s all very different when you’re lecturing in front of a live group. Counterfeiting does not prepare us for everything that can happen live.
Over the years, I’ve let technology completely shut me down and have to keep talking. I’ve had that business owner I told you about (the one who recommended that I never speak again) came across another conversation of mine a year later. I had a heckler who interrupted me halfway through the presentation to ask me how I wasn’t tired of talking so much and when I would be done. I’ve lectured at luncheons, vying for public attention with waiters who made it clear whether white or red would be the drink of choice. I’ve had some strange experiences that have taught me invaluable lessons, and I know there are many more to come.
The good news is that practice makes progress, and it is extremely encouraging and rewarding to feel yourself improving with every lecture you give. Every time something goes wrong, you are better prepared not only for a similar situation in the future, but also for countless other twists and turns.
Related: 7 Powerful Tips for Public Speaking from One of the Most Watched TED Talks
4. I filmed my talks and watched the recordings
This might be one of the most inconvenient things to do — ever. And yet it is also really useful. One hack I’ve discovered that I haven’t seen anyone else recommend is to transcribe my videos (I use Otter.Ai for that) and then read, modify, and edit them for the next read. This helps me sharpen my content tremendously, but still doesn’t take away from the inconvenient task of watching my videos. I pay attention to my body language, my posture, my eye contact, the speed and tone of my delivery. It may be uncomfortable to look at, but I take lots of notes and make changes accordingly.
5. Attended a public speaking boot camp
My public speaking skills and the quality of my keynote speech underwent a real transformation after attending the Global Speakers Academy organized by Entrepreneurs’ Organization. It was a 5 day bootcamp, from which we each left with a completed keynote talk and a day and night shift in our ability to deliver it. Some of my fellow students were very experienced speakers and I also learned that we all still have so much to learn about public speaking. It’s a never-ending journey and the realization that this has taken away my self-induced pressure to be perfect.
For some of you, a group boot camp can be intimidating. Then a public speaking coach can help you one-on-one. For some, doing both—a boot camp followed by individual work—might be an even better solution. Whichever option you choose, getting help will speed up your progress.
Related: The Secrets to Becoming a High Income Public Speaker
All these things really helped me, but I also learned an important lesson. As great as my content is and as impressive as my slides are, my sanity and mindset can make or break it. Getting enough rest, drinking water, connecting with the deepest sense of gratitude for the opportunity to be heard and helping my brain feel as clear as possible make all the difference.