Can Anyone Become a Great Speaker?

“Can anyone become a great speaker?  And isn’t the ability to be a great speaker something that you’re born with?”

I get that type of question a lot. I usually answer by reminding the asker of the old joke that goes, “How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?”

The answer, “It just takes one psychologist. But the lightbulb has to want to change.”

I do think that anyone can learn to be a great speaker. But like the lightbulb, they have to want to change, and be willing to work hard. Sure there are people who are gifted as speakers. And I suppose there are only a few people who can be as good as Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama.

But that doesn’t mean that the average person can’t learn to be highly effective at connecting with audiences.  I’ve seen it happen over and over again.

I worked recently with a woman who is the CFO of a large company. She worked extremely hard at becoming a great speaker. She constantly sought chances to speak. She rehearsed her presentations constantly. She sought a lot of coaching.

As a result of her hard work, she’s become a terrific speaker.

There are a three key things you have to work hard at: focusing your message, telling stories, and speaking with a highly-animated personal style.

To master those areas, you need give lots of speeches, rehearse a lot and, perhaps, get some coaching.

But with practice, anyone can learn to connect with audiences and move them. 

All this talk of commitment and working hard reminded me of the famous “Rocky” sequence where our hero is running through the streets of Philadelphia and doing one-handed push-ups to the song “Gonna Fly Now.”  It’s pretty corny. But I still like it.

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