Brian Tracy’s Ultimate List of Public Speaking Tips
I’ve had a wonderful motivational speaking career that has spanned for over 40 years. There are hundreds of public speaking tips I’ve learned along the way. I’m going to share as many of them with you as I can.
An enormous number of professional speakers start off the same way:
They start off speaking in their organization or in their company or sometimes will be asked to talk on their subject to a small group of people within their industry. They put together some notes and share what they know.
When people respond positively, the speaker will suddenly realize that they really enjoyed it too. And that is one of the main reasons people want to get into speaking.
Whether you’re speaking in a small meeting or to a larger audience, I’ve covered some of the techniques in this post. Learning the art of public speaking has helped many people make career jumps in business, build confidence, get promoted, and even travel the world.
Table of Contents
- 7 Public Speaking Tips I’ve Learned During My Public Speaking Career
- How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
- How to Improve Public Speaking Skills”
- Public Speaking Exercises for Building Confidence
- Public Speaking Tips for Small Groups and Meetings
- Public Speaking Tips for a Larger Audience (10+ People)
- How to Get Paid to be a Public Speaker Around the World
- Public Speaking Quotes for Motivation
- Take Action!
7 Public Speaking Tips I’ve Learned During My Public Speaking Career
Keep reading and let me give you all of the public speaking tips I’ve learned on the road to becoming a professional motivational speaker:
1. You Have To Really Want A Public Speaking Career
My friend Bill Gove who used to be one of the top speakers in America would be approached by people all the time telling him they wanted to be speakers.
He would ask the question, “Why?”
Often they would tell him they wanted to be famous, or make a lot of money and be a star on the stage.
He pointed out that these were not good enough reasons. Just to want to make money and have fame were not good enough reasons.
The reason why successful people are successful in speaking is because they have a burning message that they want to share, that people can really benefit from.
2. You May Have to Work Hard Before You Get Paid
Zig Ziglar, who is one of the great and legendary motivational speakers, used to say that he gave 3,000 talks before he was paid for the first one.
I worked with Zig for years, traveling and speaking together. I finally found out that what he meant was that he started off in sales and then trained salespeople for a decade or more.
Every morning he would give a little sales talk to his people. He would tell little stories and give little motivational and sales tidbits, and that was his beginning.
3. Never Turn Down A Talk
Remember that 95 percent of speaking is finding an audience. So you have to find an organization that already has an audience. Somebody is already putting meetings together.
Getting people together in a room is the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your whole life.
Most speakers have no capacity whatsoever to get people into a room. They have to find someone else who can get the people into the room, somewhere, somehow and any size of group.
Keep reading and I’ll tell you exactly where you can find those people . . .
4. In The Beginning, Focus Your Public Speaking On One Single Subject
So you have a specialty and you decide you want to speak . . .
At the beginning, you specialize and always focus on a single subject.
If someone asks what your subject is you say, “I show leaders how to get the very best out of each person that reports to them.”
“Great. All of our managers would like to hear that.”
Here’s An Important Point:
When you talk about your speech, always talk in terms of the transformation, change, or outcome that will occur when people listen to your talk. You never talk about the material in your talk, you talk about the outcome.
When you do this, you will be able to book many more speeches than if you solely talk about your material.
5. Use Your Public Speaking to Help Others Rather Than Sell
Every single speech is an opportunity to solve a problem that the listeners have.
As always, clarity is the critical word here. You’ve got to be clear about what problem your speech is going to solve, and what answers it’s going to give.
How is it going to help people?
Even a motivational speech is intended to help people, motivate them, help them focus, and to channel their energies.
6. How to Get Paid to Speak Publicly
I remember one of the first experiences I had was being invited to speak to a large group after someone had heard me speak. At the end of the talk, which was about 60 minutes, the organizer came up and gave me an envelope. He said “Thank you very much. I really appreciate you being here.” I walked away and opened the envelope and there was a $500 check.
I thought, “Holy smokes!”
I had been willing to do the talk for free on the off chance that people in the audience would come to my seminar. I still remember how impressed I was with $500.
So what will happen if things go well is that people will approach you and offer to pay you? The rule in professional speaking they say is, if you want to start from scratch, go out and give three hundred talks.
Resolve to give free speeches, and do them as hard and as fast as you can.
There are between two and three million meetings a year in the U.S. alone . . .
These are Rotary meetings, Lion’s Club meetings, non-profit association meetings, automobile club meetings, and every other kind of business organization meeting.
And every single one of these groups is looking for a speaker for their next meeting.
7. What Is Your Specialty?
What are you good at? What do you love? You can speak about anything you want as long as you are passionate about it and you specialize in it. I began speaking in business, sales, and leadership qualities because that was my specialty.
What are you great at?
Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
The fear of public speaking is very real for a lot of people. In fact, more people fear public speaking or glossophobia over dying. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can learn to overcome your fear of public speaking (here are 27 of them). None of my tips include having to picture the audience in their underwear.
Some public speaking tips to overcome your fears include old-fashioned practice, watching yourself speak in the mirror, and lightly exercising before you go on stage.
Speaking professionally really is not something that you can decide in favor of or against. You don’t really have a choice. If you want to realize your full potential in the world of business, you must learn how to improve your effective communication skills to better communicate with people.
I have seen executives make extraordinary career jumps, saving themselves as much as five to 10 years of time working up the executive ladder, simply by using effective communication skills at a corporate meeting. I’ve observed men and women who’ve put their careers onto the fast track by overcoming their fears and developing their presentation skills.
Pay any price, spend any amount of time, overcome any obstacle, but make a decision, right now, that you’re going to learn to speak well before groups and practice your presentation skills consistently. It could be one of the most important decisions you ever make in assuring long-term success in your career.
How to Improve Public Speaking
When someone asks me how they can learn how to get better at public speaking I like to tell them this quote:
“The only way to learn to speak is to speak and speak, and speak and speak, and speak and speak and speak.” – Elbert Hubbard
But while it’s true that the only way to become good at anything is by repetition, over and over, until it becomes second nature, there are many things that you can do to be more effective speaking in front of audiences.
The starting point in the art of public speaking is to pick a subject that you really care about.
It is to think through the subjects that have had an extraordinary impact on you, the subjects that you would like to share with others because you intensely feel that others could benefit from your knowledge.
With this, you have a springboard off which you can leap into your first public talk.
The second part of public speaking is preparation for effective communication. Preparing is more important than anything except caring about your subject. It’s not unusual for a person to spend many hours, days and even weeks preparing for a talk.
If the first two parts of successful public speaking are caring and preparing, the third part is practicing and improving your presentation skills. If you have a tape recorder or, even better, a video camera, record yourself giving the talk from beginning to end. Then listen to it or watch it, and make notes on how you could make it better.
If you’re using a video camera, look into the camera and use the same facial expressions and the same body gestures that you would use if you were speaking directly to someone. When you critique yourself, be very hard on yourself. Remember, the more honest and objective you can be about how you come across to others, the faster you will build effective communication skills for success.
Practice makes perfect, and perfect practice makes it even more perfect. If you practice consistently, you will find that your presentation skills have dramatically improved over time. Remember, your ability to speak effectively in front of people can do more to advance your career and your life than perhaps any other skill you can develop.
4 Public Speaking Exercises for Building Confidence and Self-Esteem
1. Verbalize Your Speech
The most powerful words that you can use to prepare yourself mentally for a speech, or for any event, are the words I like myself ! Before you get up to speak, say to yourself over and over, ‘‘I like myself! I like myself! I like myself!’’ These words have a wonderful effect in raising your self-esteem and lowering your fears. The more you like yourself, the more confident you will become.
2. Visualize Your Speaking Success
All improvement in your outer performance begins with an improvement in your mental pictures.
You should ‘‘see’’ yourself standing calm, confident, relaxed, and smiling as you address your audience. See the audience leaning toward you, smiling, laughing, enjoying, and hanging on every word you say as if you were amazingly intelligent and entertaining.
3. Emotionalize the Feeling of Speaking
You can actually ‘‘get the feeling’’ that you would like to have if you were already a successful and popular speaker.
When you are by yourself, create these feelings exactly as they would exist if your talk was as successful as you desire. Generate these feelings, and combine them with the statement ‘‘I give a wonderful talk every time.’’
4. Actualize Your Thoughts on Public Speaking
Here is an important discovery: Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between a real event and an event that you vividly imagine.
If you visualize and replay a positive speaking experience 10 or 20 or 50 times in your mind, your subconscious mind records that you have just given 10 or 20 or 50 successful talks, all ending in standing ovations and happy audiences.
Pictured Above: Brian Tracy speaking to a small group at his Speaking Academy in San Diego, CA (Learn How You Can Attend.)
Public Speaking Tips for Small Groups and Meetings
Your ability to speak well and persuasively in small meetings can have an extraordinary impact on your life and career. In business, others continually assess and evaluate you. Consciously and subconsciously, they are upgrading or downgrading their opinions of your personality, ability, competence, and level of confidence. For this reason, you must think of business meetings as important events in your career.
The mark of the professional in every field is preparation. The more thoroughly you prepare for a meeting of any kind, even with just one other person, the more effective you will appear and the better results you will get.
The power is always on the side of the person who has prepared the most thoroughly. The individual who comes into a meeting unprepared has diminished power and sometimes no power at all.
Your job is to speak to win on every occasion. Your goal is to be seen as an important player in every conversation. Your aim is to persuade others to your point of view and to make an impact on your world. You do this by thoroughly preparing for every meeting that you hold or that you participate in, and you do it making others in the room feel important.
The more you can involve the participants in the discussion as you go along, the better sense you will have for how they are thinking and feeling, and the more likely it is that they will agree with you at the end of your presentation.
Pictured Above: Brian Tracy Speaking to over 700 people at the National Achievers Conference in India, 2017
Public Speaking Tips for a Larger Audience (10+ People)
The goals of professional speaking are to entertain, inform, inspire, and to get the audience to take action.
The truth is, in order for your presentation or speech to have its greatest effect you need to be able to entertain and wow your audience. Here are some tips that I use in my speeches to give effective presentations.
1. Say something to connect with the audience
Let me give you an example of how I open a talk, and you know I’ve given over 5,000 talks and seminars. I almost always open with the same words.
I say this in Russia, I say it in China, Finland, Canada, and I say it in Atlanta.
“Congratulations for being here. This means that you are in the top ten percent of adults in our society today.”
“You are among the top ten percent of adults in our society today.”
“Why is that?”
“It’s because you’re here.”
“You see, only the top ten percent of people in any society ever come to a seminar like this to learn how to be better in some way. The other 90 percent always have a reason for not being here.”
“It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. All that really matters is where you’re going.”
“And where you are going is determined by what you are doing in the moment. And the fact that you are here means that you intend to have a great future. Remember that future intention determines present action.”
That’s how I start a speech.
I’ll even say that I’m going to share some ideas with them, that are practiced by the top 10%of people in this field. I’ll tell them that these ideas can help them to move ahead faster than they ever imagined possible. Then I launch into my talk.
2. Use Storytelling in Your Presentation Wherever Possible
The key to keeping an audience engaged during a speech is with personal stories. Stories are the most important part of a good presentation.
You can tell very short stories, and they can be your stories or someone else’s stories.
If it’s your personal story, that’s even better. But if it’s someone else’s story that is just fine. Any story is better than no story.
Whenever you start to tell a story, the whole audience pays 100 percent attention.
When you’re giving facts and figures and details and strategies, methods and techniques, they will pay a certain amount of attention.
But when you tell a story they will listen intently.
And if you can design your talk around three stories, you’ll be amazed at the response.
More on that below…
3. How to Structure a Speech
When you think about your talk, remember that “Less is more.”
This should be the basic structure of your talk:
- Your opening.
- Your 3 key points.
- Your close.
You have a strong opening, first key point, and then a story.
Transition, second key point, and a story.
Transition, third key point, and a story.
Summarize, and then a close.
The stories link it all together. And you can tell stories that are inspiring, or emotional; that make people feel very strongly. You can tell stories that are motivational; that have to do with greater success and achievement as the result of persisting.
How to Get Paid to be a Public Speaker Around the World
Public speaking is the most effective way to share your ideas with the world. It takes confidence, passion, and authenticity to share a message that influences and resonates with an audience.
How does one attract eager audiences around the world?
It starts with the commitment to make as many speaking engagements as you possibly can. Get your name out there.
In addition, I have compiled a few other tips to work your way to an international speaking career with paid gigs around the world.
I have spoken in over 70 countries around the world in the last 30 years. I have been translated by about 50 different professional interpreters. Because of all that, I have been titled the most prolific speaker in the history of the world.
When I started off in the first 10-15 years, I was focused in North America.
The first thing you want to do is start where you are.
Pick a subject that you really care about and that you think is important for people to know about. Become very knowledgeable in that subject.
Then, begin to offer speeches or small workshops to people within your circle, and at no charge.
Build Up Your Experience And Credibility
In my early beginnings, I would often ask if I could speak for free or at minimum cost to get experience and credibility. Sometimes if people don’t know you or your reputation, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up.
There is a basic rule that says, “Before you get paid for speaking, you have to give 300 free talks.”
It may actually take you 100 or 500. But the point is, keep offering free talks until somebody comes up and asks, “How much would you charge to give that talk to my people or my company?”
Professional motivational speakers have one central focus: We’re always thinking in terms of how to get more speaking engagements.
Always Ask For Opportunities
The future belongs to people who confidently ask for what they want. Especially those that ask to speak to an international company or organization.
You can call them up and explain that you specialize in a subject and that you’d love to speak to their organization.
Ask them for the opportunity. Ask them for more information. Ask them if they use speakers and when they will be using a speaker again.
The more you ask, the more answers you get. And eventually, the more you will get asked to speak for them.
Get To Know Your Audience
85% or more of all speakers are hired because someone else recommended them.
Someone who heard them speak said, “This is a great speaker.” The more people who say that you did a great job when you spoke somewhere else, the faster and easier it is for them to hire you.
For this reason, be sure to stay around after you’ve given a speech or talk to network with your audience.
Offer to speak again to others, maybe even on different subjects.
It’s amazing how much business comes when you stay around, have a drink, and talk to people. You are more likely to have people ask for you to come and speak to their organization.
Stick Around After Your Speech
When you’ve given a speech or a talk, stay around after and offer to speak again to others, maybe even on different subjects.
It’s amazing how much business comes when you stick around, have coffee and talk to people. Sometimes, this will cause people to ask you to come and speak to their organization.
Many speakers have developed this to the point that they get two bookings from every talk they give.
In the course of their talk they’ll say, “By the way, I give variations of this talk to different organizations in different industries with different problems.” People will come up afterward and tell them about their business and ask if their talk would be helpful to them.
Public Speaking Tips for Speaking Internationally
If you want to speak internationally after making a name for yourself follow these steps.
Focus On One Country Outside Of The U.S.
Once I established myself in North America, I made a bridge to Germany. It was the starting point to my speaking internationally.
That brings me to my next point – put your stake in the ground of a country outside of the U.S. to kick off your international speaking career.
Learn The Language
Next, you should learn their language.
After my first few gigs in Germany, I immediately started taking German classes and tutoring. It was an opportunity to develop a tremendous business around my seminars, programs, and books.
Not surprisingly, I ended up booking 5-15 talks every year in Germany. Today, I can speak almost fluent German.
The most powerful word in getting speaking engagements is “Ask.”
Public Speaking Quotes for Motivation and Success
Finally, I like to offer you some of my favorite public speaking quotes to help motivate you.
“Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you go, and fix it along the way…” -Paul Arden
“There is only one excuse for a speaker’s asking the attention of his audience: he must have either truth or entertainment for them.” ― Dale Carnegie, The Art of Public Speaking
“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” – Stephen Keague, The Little Red Handbook of Public Speaking and Presenting
“A speaker should approach his preparation not by what he wants to say, but by what he wants to learn.” ― Todd Stocker
“If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.” –Dianna Booher
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” –Dale Carnegie
“A good orator is pointed and impassioned.” –Marcus T. Cicero
“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” – Mark Twain
“The most precious things in speech are the pauses.” – Sir Ralph Richardson
Are you passionate about spreading your message, creating a lasting impact and making more money through speaking and communicating effectively?
This information is for you ONLY if you’re a professional or aspiring speaker. Becoming an accomplished, effective, sought-after speaker isn’t simple. It’s the result of putting together a careful, highly specialized plan.
And it’s not your fault you’re not as effective a communicator as you want to be. Speaking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and without experience and expertise, it’s difficult to know how to turn speaking into a successful business and spread your message effectively.
If you want to be your own boss, travel the world, and get paid for it, learn how you can join one of the highest-paid professions in the world in this free online public speaking training.
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.