How to become better as a speaker

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This is might look like a post about fitness, but it is actually a post about professional speaking, specifically a post about what speakers who are just starting out need to understand about building a speaking career.

But let’s start with some words about fitness:

This summer I turned 50 and decided to “get fit @ 50”.

I must admit that my 40’s was not my most fit decade, ok, I will be honest, it was my least fit decade.

But knowing I was going to turn 50 this year I decided to do a push for a more healthy life style.

And without much effort I have seen some amazing improvements.

I am far from as fit as I plan to become, but this is a post about how the easy wins that come early on.

I lost 6 kg in a couple of months. (For someone who is 184 cm and was clocking in at 80 kg that it not so much to start with. But my scale now shows the number 73.8 kg. The first time in decades I have been so slim)

When I decided to get fit I could do one set of two (2!) chin-ups or pull-ups. (Did I tell you I was not very fit…) Two months later I can now easily to three sets of 10.

When I started I could hardly run to the bus without losing my breath. Just a couple of weeks after starting to run regularly I just ran my first 10K in 20 years – and I did it under the hour.

Same effect with number of push-ups I can do. Or sit-ups.

I am just AMAZED how easily I could drastically improve my fitness level from a “beginner” position to a “better than most” position.

Now, I am totally aware that it will be harder to get from 10 to 20 pull-ups than to get from 2-10 just like it will be much harder to get to 10K in 50 minutes than to get to the 10K in 59 minutes that I just did today.

Easy wins are followed by harder and tougher wins.

Which brings us to speaking.

I have coached many beginner speakers and they are often intimidated by the work and commitment needed to become a world class global keynote speaker.

They see the road from where they are to where they want to go and they see a mountain.

But just like it is easy to get more fit than the average person, it is easy to get better than the average speaker.

Time and time again I see how speakers who actually take the time to watch the videos of themselves and ask people to give feedback on what they should improve – and who then take this advice to heart and change things for the better do DRASTIC improvements as speakers.

Speaking might actually be one of those jobs where it is the easiest to become better than average.

Now to be world class you need to tweak all those tiny little details, and work very hard to fine tune the small things, but that is a different chapter.

If you are just getting started in your speaking career identify the 10 things you need to improve on and commit yourself to fixing them.

I promise you that the result per time invested will be off the charts.

Just like my strength, stamina has improved drastically in the last few weeks and months.

Come to think of it: Perhaps we should spend most of our time quickly becoming much better at the things we know little about.

Like if your writing is bad, book a ten hour consulting with a copywriter
If you cooking skills suck attend a cooking class
If you look terrible on camera google “How to look better on camera”

etc.

Life is full of low-hanging fruits when it comes to self-improvement.

Pick them.

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For a Swede the idea of taking a lot of time off from work to enjoy life is not provocative, but in many countries people do not take out more than one or two weeks of vacation even when they can afford it. Time off is important, especially for professional speakers.

Personally I am on a 8 week summer break (with a few speeches sprinkled in). 8 weeks that I am spending on an island with my family to focus on raising my kids and enjoying a slower pace of life.

Earlier this year I have been flying around the world speaking in the UK, France, Malta, Mauritius, India, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, HK, Oman, Indonesia, Italy, China, Norway and New Zealand (15 countries on 4 continents in 6 months).

But as inspiring as this traveling is, the brain also needs “down time” to reflect, think and recharge. I am totally convinced that having a lot of time makes me a better speaker. And there is no doubt it makes me enjoy life more.

Make sure you clear your calendar with enough time to make you miss speaking again. When speaking becomes a job, it looses much of its magic.

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