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Better Public Speaking

Becoming a Confident, Compelling Speaker

Whether we're talking in a team meeting or presenting in front of an audience, we all

have to speak in public from time to time.
We can do this well or we can do this badly, and the outcome strongly affects the way
that people think about us. This is why public speaking causes so much anxiety and
The good news is that, with thorough preparation and practice, you can overcome your
nervousness and perform exceptionally well.

The Importance of Public Speaking

Even if you don't need to make regular presentations in front of a group, there are
plenty of situations where good public speaking skills can help you advance your career
and create opportunities.
For example, you might have to talk about your organization at a conference, make a
speech after accepting an award, or teach a class to new recruits. Speaking to an
audience also includes online presentations or talks; for instance, when training a virtual
team, or when speaking to a group of customers in an online meeting.
Good public speaking skills are important in other areas of your life, as well. You might
be asked to make a speech at a friend's wedding, give a eulogy for a loved one, or
inspire a group of volunteers at a charity event.
In short, being a good public speaker can enhance your reputation, boost your self-
confidence, and open up countless opportunities.
However, while good skills can open doors, poor ones can close them. For example,
your boss might decide against promoting you after sitting through a badly-delivered
presentation. You might lose a valuable new contract by failing to connect with a
prospect during a sales pitch. Or you could make a poor impression with your new
team, because you trip over your words and don't look people in the eye.
Make sure that you learn how to speak well!
Strategies for Becoming a Better Speaker
The good news is that speaking in public is a learnable skill. As such, you can use the
following strategies to become a better speaker and presenter.

1. Plan Appropriately
First, make sure that you plan your communication appropriately. Use tools like
the Rhetorical Triangle , Monroe's Motivated Sequence , and the 7Cs of
Communication to think about how you'll structure what you're going to say.
When you do this, think about how important a book's first paragraph is; if it doesn't
grab you, you're likely going to put it down. The same principle goes for your speech:
from the beginning, you need to intrigue your audience.
For example, you could start with an interesting statistic, headline, or fact that pertains
to what you're talking about and resonates with your audience. You can also use story
telling as a powerful opener; our Expert Interviews with this.
Planning also helps you to think on your feet . This is especially important for
unpredictable question and answer sessions or last-minute communications.
Remember that not all occasions when you need to speak in public will be scheduled.
You can make good impromptu speeches by having ideas and mini-speeches pre-
prepared. It also helps to have a good, thorough understanding of what's going on in
your organization and industry.

2. Practice
There's a good reason that we say, "Practice makes perfect!" You simply cannot be a
confident, compelling speaker without practice.
If you're going to be delivering a presentation or prepared speech, create it as early as
possible. The earlier you put it together, the more time you'll have to practice.
Practice it plenty of times alone, using the resources you'll rely on at the event, and, as
you practice, tweak your words until they flow smoothly and easily.
Then, if appropriate, do a dummy run in front of a small audience: this will help you
calm your jitters and make you feel more comfortable with the material. Your audience
can also give you useful feedback , both on your material and on your performance.
3. Engage With Your Audience
When you speak, try to engage your audience. This makes you feel less isolated as a
speaker and keeps everyone involved with your message. If appropriate, ask leading
questions targeted to individuals or groups, and encourage people to participate and
ask questions.
Keep in mind that some words reduce your power as a speaker. For instance, think
about how these sentences sound: "I just want to add that I think we can meet these
goals" or "I just think this plan is a good one." The words "just" and "I think" limit your
authority and conviction. Don't use them.
A similar word is "actually," as in, "Actually, I'd like to add that we were under budget
last quarter." When you use "actually," it conveys a sense of submissiveness or even
surprise. Instead, say what things are. "We were under budget last quarter" is clear and
Also, pay attention to how you're speaking. If you're nervous, you might talk quickly.
This increases the chances that you'll trip over your words, or say something you don't
mean. Force yourself to slow down by breathing deeply. Don't be afraid to gather your
thoughts; pauses are an important part of conversation, and they make you sound
confident, natural, and authentic.
Finally, avoid reading word-for-word from your notes. Instead, make a list of important
points on cue cards, or, as you get better at public speaking, try to memorize what
you're going to say – you can still refer back to your cue cards when you need them.

4. Pay Attention to Body Language

If you're unaware of it, your body language will give your audience constant, subtle
clues about your inner state. If you're nervous, or if you don't believe in what you're
saying, the audience can soon know.
Pay attention to your body language: stand up straight, take deep breaths, look people
in the eye, and smile. Don't lean on one leg or use gestures that feel unnatural.
Many people prefer to speak behind a podium when giving presentations. While
podiums can be useful for holding notes, they put a barrier between you and the
audience. They can also become a "crutch," giving you a hiding place from the dozens
or hundreds of eyes that are on you.
Instead of standing behind a podium, walk around and use gestures to engage the
audience. This movement and energy will also come through in your voice, making it
more active and passionate.
5. Think Positively
Positive thinking can make a huge difference to the success of your communication,
because it helps you feel more confident.
Fear makes it all too easy to slip into a cycle of negative self-talk, especially right before
you speak, while self-sabotaging thoughts such as "I'll never be good at this!" or "I'm
going to fall flat on my face!" lower your confidence and increase the chances that you
won't achieve what you're truly capable of.
Use affirmations and visualization to raise your confidence. This is especially important
right before your speech or presentation. Visualize giving a successful presentation, and
imagine how you'll feel once it's over and when you've made a positive difference for
others. Use positive affirmations such as "I'm grateful I have the opportunity to help my
audience" or "I'm going to do well!"

6. Cope With Nerves

How often have you listened to or watched a speaker who really messed up? Chances
are, the answer is "not very often."
When we have to speak in front of others, we can envision terrible things happening.
We imagine forgetting every point we want to make, passing out from our nervousness,
or doing so horribly that we'll lose our job. But those things almost never come to pass!
We build them up in our minds and end up more nervous than we need to be.
Many people cite speaking to an audience as their biggest fear, and a fear of failure is
often at the root of this. Public speaking can lead your "fight or flight" response to kick
in adrenaline courses through your bloodstream, your heart rate increases, you sweat,
and your breath becomes fast and shallow.
Although these symptoms can be annoying or even debilitating, the Inverted-U
Model shows that a certain amount of pressure enhances performance. By changing
your mindset, you can use nervous energy to your advantage.
First, make an effort to stop thinking about yourself, your nervousness, and your fear.
Instead, focus on your audience: what you're saying is "about them." Remember that
you're trying to help or educate them in some way, and your message is more
important than your fear. Concentrate on the audience's wants and needs, instead of
your own.
If time allows, use deep breathing exercises to slow your heart rate and give your body
the oxygen it needs to perform. This is especially important right before you speak.
Take deep breaths from your belly, hold each one for several seconds, and let it out
Crowds are more intimidating than individuals, so think of your speech as a
conversation that you're having with one person. Although your audience may be 100
people, focus on one friendly face at a time, and talk to that person as if he or she is
the only one in the room.
Watch Recordings of Your Speeches
Whenever possible, record your presentations and speeches. You can improve your
speaking skills dramatically by watching yourself later, and then working on improving
in areas that didn't go well.
As you watch, notice any verbal stalls, such as "um" or "like." Look at your body
language: are you swaying, leaning on the podium, or leaning heavily on one leg? Are
you looking at the audience? Did you smile? Did you speak clearly at all times?
Pay attention to your gestures. Do they appear natural or forced? Make sure that
people can see them, especially if you're standing behind a podium.
Last, look at how you handled interruptions, such as a sneeze or a question that you
weren't prepared for. Does your face show surprise, hesitation, or annoyance? If so,
practice managing interruptions like these smoothly, so that you're even better next

Key Points
Chances are that you'll sometimes have to speak in public as part of your role. While
this can seem intimidating, the benefits of being able to speak well outweigh any
perceived fears. To become a better speaker, use the following strategies:
 Plan appropriately.
 Practice.
 Engage with your audience.
 Pay attention to body language.
 Think positively.
 Cope with your nerves.
 Watch recordings of your speeches.

If you speak well in public, it can help you get a job or promotion, raise awareness for
your team or organization, and educate others. The more you push yourself to speak in
front of others, the better you'll become, and the more confidence you'll have.
What is a Lone Wolf?

A lone wolf is typically defined as a person (or animal) who prefers to spend time alone
rather than being in a group. However, here lone wolf refers to a person who has
listened to their calling and has left behind their old life, thus rendering them alone or
alienated from others. We all possess an inner wolf that thirsts for freedom, truth, and
authenticity. If we seek to live a meaningful life, if we want to fulfill our destiny, it’s our
job to listen to that inner wolf and embrace our sacred wild nature.
Why Most People Are Terrified of Walking Their Own Path?
Although choosing your own path may initially sound very empowering, there’s a reason
why most people prefer to follow the herd.
Firstly, walking your own path means that you might be REJECTED by others. You
might be gossiped about, thought of in disparaging ways (e.g. as a “kook,” “oddball,”
“idiot”), and outright alienated or estranged from other people. Sometimes those people
who reject you are those closest to you. And what could be more painful than losing a
family member, friend or even partner?
As a species, we are biologically programmed to seek approval because acceptance
equals survival. Inevitably, doing anything that may cause us to be rejected sets off
those deep, primal alarm bells and raises the hairs on the back of our necks. I would go
so far as saying that walking your own path guarantees that at some point someone
will look down on you and say, “what on earth are you doing, you imbecile?”
The second reason why most people avoid walking their own paths is that it’s a hell of a
lotta work. No one is out there giving you a map, a set of rules, or instructions that tell
you what to do. YOU have to be responsible for figuring it all out from scratch. It kind
of feels like stumbling through the dark in a room full of sharp objects. You will make
mistakes. You will fall flat and land smack bang on your face. You will feel embarrassed,
overwhelmed, and a lot of other uncomfortable emotions that come with doing
something completely radical. And on a mental and emotional level, most people see
that. Most people understand, on some superficial level, the consequences and
therefore prefer the cozy, comfortable, and bland mediocrity of society-prescribed
The third reason why most people avoid walking their own paths is that it’s “too much”
RESPONSIBILITY. When you take your path into your own hands, YOU are responsible.
There’s no one to blame, point the finger at, whine about or feel victimized by. You are
the worker, boss, innovator, and creator all-in-one. Instead of someone else holding all
the cards, you hold all the cards, and it is ultimately your problem if you wind up feeling
shitty with what you do. Most people can’t handle that. Most people like the comfy
confines of their cages because it makes them feel justified about feeling like a “poor
little” victim of life. Instead of taking self-responsibility, it’s much easier to dump the
burden onto someone else’s shoulders and feel self-righteously empowered through
And last, but not least, the fourth reason why most people avoid walking their own
paths is that they don’t know where to start. Some don’t even know that there is
another path, to begin with. We seem to be raised in cultures that tell us that there are
a limited number of paths, aka. the paths that are taught by the big money-making
University and College industries. In school, we are conditioned to believe that going to
University is the only path towards developing a legitimately “fulfilling” career path …
and that getting a properly certified career path somehow equals happiness. Very few
of us are even taught about other equally, if not fulfilling paths. Spirituality isn’t even
touched on in most cases. So when we do stumble upon the possibility of taking a new
path that goes against the grain, we are not only intimidated but also invalidated by our
social conditioning. Many people believe that the only way to know you’re walking a
“proper” or valuable is if you get the approval of social institutions (or shall I say social
marketplaces) in the form of degrees and PhDs. The deep distrust we are conditioned
to develop in ourselves paralyzes our ability to act. So many of us never make anything
of our dreams – they just fester in the back-corners of our minds.

The Many Weird and Wonderful Benefits of Walking Your Own Path
So far we’ve focused only on the negative side of walking your own path and being a
lone wolf. But what about the breathtaking, exciting, blood-tingly-good benefits? When
comparing the negatives and positives side by side, let me tell you, the negatives pale
in comparison to what you can expect to experience.
Yes, being different and being a lone wolf walking your own path can be
uncomfortable, tiring, confusing, and alienating at times – BUT there are so many
rewards to reap from this courageous way of living. Some include:
 You are free to follow your true soul path
 You can innovate and create to your heart’s desire
 You can connect with people who truly support and nourish you (your soul
 You can experience tremendous mental, emotional, and spiritual growth
 You can become the person you are destined to be
 You can make a real difference in the life of others
 You feel more ALIVE
 Gratitude, excitement, and joy come more easily
 Many unexpected doors open to you
 You feel more vibrant and energized
 You feel a sense of self-respect for courageously pursuing your life purpose
 You get to experience the thrill of exploring unknown territory
 You can go to sleep at night feeling happy and content
Does walking your own path always mean that you’ll have to embrace being a lone wolf
or social outsider? No, not always. Maybe your life purpose really is to enter statistics
into a data file in an office. Maybe it’s simply being an acceptable member of society. If
you feel empowered by that or like it’s for a greater purpose, all the more power to
you. But I would argue that there’s a difference between defensive complacency (e.g.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’m perfectly happy in this path/job, thank
you very much”) and real fulfillment.
I would also argue that spiritually speaking, we are all required to embrace the path of
the lone wolf sooner or later. The very way that society is constructed demands that we
must forcibly and intentionally take a different route, especially after we’ve experienced
a spiritual awakening or dark night of the soul. At a certain point in our lives, we look
around at everything and everyone around us and think, “there’s got to be more.” This
thirst for something deeper and greater than material pursuit is what initiates us onto
the path of the lone wolf. Why do I call it the path of the lone wolf? The reason why I
call it the lone wolf path is that it can initially be a very lonely path. We must be the
ones to reconnect with our inner courage, discernment, and wild internal compass to
walk the path well. Without embodying the inner strength, resilience, and intelligence
represented by the wolf, we can easily fall back into the shallow and mediocre life lived
by the billions of sheep out there.

How to Embrace Being a Lone Wolf and Walk Your OWN Path
Walking your own path, on some level, always requires a conscious choice in which you
say “YES, this feels true to me and what my soul really craves for.” Even if you
accidentally stumble onto that path, walking an authentic path always requires some
level of self-reflection.
At some point in your life journey, you will need to embrace being a lone wolf. You’ll
have to go at it alone. You’ll have to go against the grain, break free from the herd, ask
the difficult questions, and face the confronting truths which may alienate you from
others. You will need to be discerning, see through the bullshit, shrug off the haters,
and keep moving forward, even if you are tired of fighting. Being a lone wolf means
being a warrior. It means standing up for what you believe in and courageously walking
into the wild unknown. It’s all worth it. I can assure you of that and I can keep
asserting it until I turn black and blue, but ultimately you must discover this for
yourself. Don’t take anything I say as truth unless you have experienced it directly.
If you’re drawn towards embracing your inner wolf and courageously walking your own
path, here are some helpful pointers:

1. Understand and accept that there will be some backlash

Whether from your friends, family members, or society at large, you will inevitably
encounter naysayers. At some point, you will be met with cynics, killjoys, and
sourpusses who seek to bring you down to their level. The reason why they fight
against you is that in their minds you invalidate their way of existence. By courageously
forging your own path you are causing them to reflect on their own lives and decisions.
If on some level, they’ve realized that they’ve followed the crowd and made no unique
decisions of their own, they will feel a sense of resentment which they’ll project onto
you. Although it’s not nice to be on the receiving end of this, understand that the issue
lies with them, not you. Everyone walking a path with a heart will experience social
unease at some point – you’re certainly not alone in facing this problem. Just keep
moving forward and remind yourself that it’s no one’s place to dictate what your life
should be like except you.

2. Ask yourself, “What do I truly and deeply want?”

This is not a question you ask just once, this is a question you continuously ask on your
path, thousands of times over. Keep bringing back your focus on what you desire on
the deepest level – not what others want to project or dump onto you. What do you
feel called to do? What do you wish to accomplish in your life? What wild paths are you
afraid to take because they are so alien but that you feel secretly drawn towards? Our
paths are not static: they are constantly shifting, evolving, and changing. By repeatedly
asking yourself this question, you will be able to reinvent yourself over and over again.
Instead of getting stuck in an old and stagnant way of living, you will be in tune with
your soul.

3. Question everything
Being a lone wolf and walking your own path go hand-in-hand with a sharp mind. How
are we to discover what is our “stuff” vs other’s “stuff” if we can’t be discerning? How
can we learn what is true and what is deceptive without the ability to analyze? Your
mind is a tool that needs to be sharpened. Without having a sharp mind, it’s easy to fall
into delusion, naivety, and stumble into rabbit holes which lead to great confusion.
Without the ability to use critical thought (and balance that with an open heart), you
can easily fall prey to emotional and spiritual predators out there. Your ability to be
discerning is your protective sword on your path. I can’t emphasize enough how
important it is to be discerning! Don’t let anyone convince you of anything until you
have experienced it yourself. Read more about the importance of spiritual discernment.
4. Love yourself and be your own best friend
Embracing the path of the wolf and taking responsibility for your life can be lonely. If
you are your own worst enemy, your path will be a million times harder. But if you can
focus some of that energy on learning to love and accept yourself exactly the way you
are (warts and all), your path will be a million times easier. You are with yourself 24/7,
you are the only person who has been there by your side through everything … doesn’t
it make sense to like who you are? Doesn’t it make sense to enjoy spending time with
yourself? In my experience it absolutely does. Practicing self-compassion and
learning how to love yourself are the most powerful tools and strengths you can

5. Know yourself
Strive to learn a little bit more about yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses
each and every day. Self-discovery and self-understanding are tremendously important
facets of walking your own path. As the wise master Lao Tzu once wrote, “He who
knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” Only when you can come
to deeply know yourself can you truly embrace who you are and walk your path with

6. Feel the fear, but act anyway

Walking the path of the wolf will inevitably confront you with some scary and
intimidating situations. Even simply starting the path into those mysterious woods is
terrifying. Following your heart and listening to your calling is not as sunshine-and-roses
as many people make it out to be. Often it requires tremendous sacrifice and the ability
to look fear straight in the face without turning away. While I am not a perfect
example, I have learned as a rule that feeling the fear but acting anyway is a good
choice (in most cases). Obviously, if you’re facing a life-threatening situation it would be
better to pause and probably face the opposite way, but if the fear you’re feeling is
emotional or psychological be gentle with yourself and keep pushing forward. Hold your
goal in mind, reaffirm your worthiness and inner strength, and keep going. Don’t let
anything or anyone try to bring you down. And if you do fall down, keep picking
yourself up, over and over again. Remember, you can do anything, just do it afraid.
Have the courage to be vulnerable.

7. Let your wild nature guide you

You are both human and divine – accept this. Embrace the wild and non-rational part of
you that serves as your inner compass. Listen to your gut feelings and let your animal
self be filled with passion. You don’t have to be tame or repressed any longer.
Walking your own path and embracing the lone wolf side of you means that you finally
have freedom. You have the freedom to feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your
face, and the earth beneath your feet. Your life is your making. Your destiny is in your
hands. Make sure that you get out of your mind and into your body; into your heart,
blood, and bones … what are they telling you? Honor the wisdom in your instinctual
nature. Honor the wild and raw passion pulsating deep within. Harness this passion and
let it guide and motivate you. There is no point walking a path that you do not feel
passionate about. Let the wolf within you howl loudly and freely. Remember that YOU
are both the traveler and the path all-in-one. The compass you need for your path is
always within. Be careful of looking for it outside of yourself. While others may be able
to shine a light on your path, ultimately the greatest guiding light is your own Soul.
Ways to overcome Low Self-esteem

Low self-esteem is seeing yourself as inadequate, unacceptable, unworthy, unlovable,

and/or incompetent. These beliefs create negative, self-critical thoughts that affect your
behaviour and your life choices, often lowering your self-esteem even further. Using the
tools of mindfulness, you can learn to look at situations, other people and yourself
objectively, without the negative influence of the past and with the awareness that you
always have a choice.

Live in the moment

When you are focused on the moment, you can choose your actions consciously and
wisely, unaffected by the hurts of your past and unconcerned by worries or hopes
about the future.

Develop awareness
When we’re aware, we can recognize how we are responding and reacting to our own
fears, creating a moment between our emotions and our actions. We can then choose
to respond in a healthier way.

Write in a journal
Many of our thoughts and feelings are locked in our subconscious mind and writing can
help to bring them into our awareness. Writing about the way we feel and think can
help to separate negative ideas about ourselves from the truth of who we really are.

Be non-judgmental
When we approach our lives non-judgmentally, we simply accept ourselves, our
experiences, our failures and successes and other people just as they are, neither good
or bad, without pride or shame.

Stay connected to yourself

Mindfulness can help you to develop a sense of connection to yourself and reduce your
people-pleasing ways by allowing you to stop the autopilot thinking and behavior that
keeps you jumping to please others without thinking of your own needs.
Practice mindful meditation
Meditation just means letting go of the racing thoughts in your mind and accepting that
those thoughts, feelings and beliefs are transient, rather than parts of yourself. Take a
few moments every day to simply be still, focus on your breathing and watch your
worries drift away like clouds.

Participate in your own life

Mindfulness encourages us to become active and assertive in creating our own lives.
Awareness of your thoughts and choosing your responses to them enables you to take
action and participate in your own life.

Develop a beginner’s mind

When you have a beginner’s mind, you look at things as if you are seeing them for the
first time, with openness, eagerness and freedom from expectation. You can see things
in a new light, rather than automatically responding with the same old patterns of

Let go
Non-attachment, or letting go, is the goal of mindfulness. When you let go of what you
think you should do or who you should be, you can trust yourself and choose what’s
right for you.

Show compassion toward yourself

You deserve love as much as anyone else. Self-compassion simply means providing
yourself with the love, safety and acceptance you need.

Passion is one of those words that people use often without really understanding the
original meaning of the word. When most people refer to "passion", they use it to mean
strong emotions reflecting an intense desire or boundless enthusiasm.
It was only after reading Aspire by Kevin Hall and confirming with the dictionary, did I
realize that "passion" originally meant:
A Willingness to Suffer for What You Love
The most famous example being the passion of Jesus Christ. This definition has
changed my perspective about passion. I no longer use it to describe something that I
feel strongly about or that excites me. I use it to describe an activity, goal or cause that
I care about so much that I am willing to suffer for it. This new standard makes it
easier to discern whether something is truly my passion or simply a strong interest.
People who make a difference in their own lives and the world do so by following their
passion. This means making the conscious decision to give up other enjoyable activities
to focus your energy on the most important activities. Great parents naturally do this
when they have children and like raising kids, doing what you love is very hard work yet
rewarding at the same time. The good news is when you pursue your passion, you'll not
only like where you end up but enjoy the journey along the way.
Look at your life and highlight the things you love that you're willing to suffer for. This
self-reflection will give you insight into what you're passionate about. If you're not sure,
just pick something you enjoy and see if you're willing to give up other activities to
spend more time on it. Remember that in life you can choose and change your actions -
just also keep in mind that you're responsible for the consequences.
Don't settle for a life that is only so-so.
Start living your best life today.

“There comes a time when you ought to start doing what you want. Take a job that you
love. You will jump out of bed in the morning. I think you are out of your mind if you
keep taking jobs that you don't like because you think it will look good on your resume.
Isn't that a little like saving up sex for your old age?”
-Warren Buffett