“The gaining of self-confidence and courage, and the ability to think calmly and clearly while talking to a group is not one-tenth as difficult as most people imagine. It is not a gift bestowed by Providence on only a few rarely endowed individuals. It is like the ability to play golf. Anyone can develop his own latent capacity if he has sufficient desire to do so.
Is there the faintest shadow of a reason why you should not be able to think as well in a perpendicular position before an audience as you can when sitting down? Surely, you know there is not. In fact, you ought to think better when facing a group. Their presence ought to stir you and lift you. A great many speakers will tell you that the presence of an audience is a stimulus, an inspiration, that drives their brains to function more clearly, more keenly. At such times, thoughts, facts, ideas that they did not know they possessed, ‘drift smoking by,’ as Henry Ward Beecher said; and they have but to reach out and lay their hands hot upon them. That ought to be your experience. It probably will be if you practice and persevere.
Of this much, however, you may be absolutely sure: training and practice will wear away your audience-fright and give you self-confidence and an abiding courage.
Do not imagine that your case is unusually difficult. Even those who afterward became the most eloquent representatives of their generation were, at the outset of their careers, afflicted by this blinding fear and self-consciousness.”
~ Dale Carnegie from How to Develop Self-Confidence and
Influence People by Public Speaking
Before Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People, he wrote this book.
In fact, back in the day, one of the things Carnegie was best known for was his ability to help people develop their leadership skills by becoming great speakers. This book is a distillation of the training manuals from his classes.
As with How to Win Friends and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, this book is quick-reading, super-practical, and entertaining (especially if you get a kick out of the early 20th century style like I do).
I bought it years ago and finally read it after enjoying How to Win Friends and as preparation for a class on Public Speaking 101 I’m working on. We’ve had a lot of our members ask for that and our flagship corporate client would love some wisdom on this front as well so here we are!
If you’re looking for an old-school guide on how to Optimize your public speaking skills I think you’ll dig it. (Get a copy here.)
Of course, it’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in! :)
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