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Speaking and giving presentations is not a natural talent, somebody is not just good at them; they put in the time. You may thinking that I am wrong, because some people just seem naturally inclined toward public speaking, or maybe they just know something you don’t. Speaking can be hacked, just like anything in life.

Have you ever said that you weren’t good at speaking? I know I have lots of times. It is purely an excuse though, and you know it. I only said it so that people wouldn’t judge me (realistically, I probably wasn’t even as bad as I thought). Obviously I was self-conscious of my speaking abilities, and chances are you are too, since you’re here.

Speaking is always thought of as one of the most fear-inducing parts of life, especially with the internet, email, and text. However, when speaking is executed properly, it can be one of the most rewarding things.

Let me tell you, speaking is not a science. Just know, you have to put in the time. If you haven’t already, you might want to take a look at my post, How to Get Yourself into the Uncomfortable Zone. Speaking is uncomfortable, things we aren’t good at are uncomfortable, get used to it.

Now, how do you hack speaking? Simple, you need a project. If you’ve ever learned to program, you know the best way to learn is through projects, not through example problems. This is applicable to almost everything in life and it makes learning fun! When I was a kid, I played lots of sports; examples are to practice as projects are to games. Same concept.

What kind of projects can you do?

  • Calling your friends rather than texting
  • Calling to place a reservation for a restaurant rather than booking online
  • Calling customer service rather than emailing or chatting them
  • Getting into your uncomfortable zone and trying out awkward things, check out my blog post for reference!
  • Grab an existing presentation slide deck from the internet and presenting the topic to your friends
  • Telling your friends a story of something in your life (learning to become a story-teller is an amazing skill)
  • Genuinely listen to people and ask insightful questions
  • Ask questions in a class or meeting in front of everyone else (they probably wanted somebody else to ask that question)
  • Talking to random people on public transportation
  • Asking people their opinions on something they are doing that you are GENUINELY interested in
  • Talking to people outside of your age group (at work I communicate with people my parents age; it is very difficult, but has become so much easier)
  • Teach an online course
  • Become a tutor
  • Wave to random strangers on the street, make eye contact, start a conversation

I hope you’re getting the doing. Projects can be anything, just think outside of the box. During this day and age we are trying to separate ourselves from people. When you feel awkward in public, go on your phone. When you don’t want to talk to someone, send an email. Somebody looks at your eyes, turn away. THIS IS ALL WRONG. Rather than distancing ourselves, we need to grow closer.

Why Should You Learn To Hack Speaking?

This list could go on and on, but let’s say you’re just a cubicle-junkie cranking away at code all day. You don’t need to do presentations, right? Wrong.

If you fall somewhere in corporate America, I can guarantee you will need to present something at least some time in your careers. I want you to feel accomplished after you finish it, not trembling.

So let’s get some reasons why speaking is so useful:

  • Speaking as a best man for a wedding
  • Calling somebody on the phone rather than getting head-deep in text
  • Quickly communicating to your assistant when you’re making the big bucks
  • Speaking at a Ted Talk

The list goes on and on, and I’m sure you have more tailored reasons, but hopefully that list gets your started!

Now for Some Motivation!

  • “People think actresses find public speaking easy, and it’s not easy at all; we’re used to hiding behind masks.” – Jane Fonda
  • 75% of individuals that suffer from speech anxiety
  • Public speaking is the number 1 phobia

Homework Assignments

Yes, I am assigning you homework.

  1. Get off your phone in public while walking around, and observe
  2. Do one of the projects from above (e.g. Call customer service on the phone from now on)
  3. Make a goal (e.g. Speak at a Ted Talk within 6 months)
  4. Read the book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Now go out there any speak like you’ve never spoke before, and remember—have fun!