Last modified 04/11/20

My Manifesto for Public Speaking

by Elizabeth Van Den Bergh

Over the past years, I’ve coached hundreds of people to become better at public speaking.

Recently I decided to sit down and look for patterns among my ‘best’ clients, meaning those clients where the collaboration felt especially successful.

Something in my approach to teaching public speaking attracted them, and made them decide to work with me and not another coach.

I think it boils down to two things: shared values and a shared definition of great public speaking.

Combined, these define the destination of our collaboration: to become a better speaker of a certain kind.

But what kind?

The following eight shared values for public speaking percolated after much thinking, free writing and re-writing.

I consider them the eight essential habits for a great speaker. I first introduced these in one of the 10 Noonshine online sessions I gave during the 2020 corona crisis.

Here is the live drawing that Joyce Van Kerckhove of kindly made during the session (click to view):

Are you ready?

In my experience, an effective speaker:

1. Speaks well to lead well

You realise that speaking to an audience automatically puts you into a leadership role.

You realise that this role comes with responsibility. Your audience is looking to you for a vision, for answers.

You therefore are aware of who you are, and what values you want to convey to your audience.

2. Shares an inspiring vision

You know that with leadership also comes an inspiring vision for the future.

Your vision is inspiring in the sense that it speaks to both the head and the heart, and moves people to take action.

You speak to your audience’s dreams.

You paint a picture not only of ‘what is’ but also of ‘what could be’.

3. Seeks positive impact

Your intention is to make the world a better place through the work and the speaking you do.

Whether your focus is climate change, female empowerment, making the world better through artificial intelligence… There are many ways.

You distinguish:

  • the output of your speaking — the words you say
  • the outcome — how you change and inspire your audience
  • and the impact — the actions they then take to make a difference in their world.

You focus on maximising the latter.

4. Starts with their ‘why’

You have a clear intention and focus for every speech or performance you give. ‘Purpose’ is now more important than ever.

You prepare asking yourself what your audience should know, feel and do after listening to you.

5. Cares for their audience

You know your audience and can step into their minds and hearts. You assess what they know about your topic and what views they may hold. You view that as the starting point for the journey you will take together by telling your story.

You realise that knowing an audience is the key to winning their attention.

6. Is memorable

You focus on creating a lasting impact with your speech.

You do this by 1) determining your single most important message, 2) carefully adding memorable elements and stories to your speech, and 3) being your memorable self!

7. Builds confidence by taking action every day

You realise that you need to speak with confidence to inspire and make impact.

You also realise that this confidence won’t come suddenly and is not given to you.

You therefore build this confidence by getting your mindset right and by challenging yourself every day.

8. Brings their personality on stage

You know what’s the secret weapon of a brilliant speech: you.

You realise that the personality of a speaker is what makes a speech truly captivating and memorable.

You therefore do not hide your personality on stage, but show who you are through what you say and how you say it.

That’s it!

What do you think? Anything you would add? Let me know in a comment.