Become a Better Speaker


From Scott’s recent interview with BizNOW magazine:

He gives 80 speeches a year, traveling to countries throughout the world.  Biz caught up with international speaker Scott Friedman, author of 7 books on business.  According to the National Speakers Association (NSA), there are over 3,500 speakers on the speaker’s circuit today.   As former president of the NSA, Scott reveals his best tips on professional speaking, just in case you’re thinking of joining the circuit!   

Pull quote: “A good speaker has humility, authenticity, vulnerability.  More ‘you’ not so much ‘I.’  Make it about them.  Share what you learned through failure, and don’t always be the hero of your own story.”

What do you need to be a successful speaker?  It comes down to relevant value for your audience, Tune into WIIFM –  What’s it in for me –what’s in it for your audience.  Are you making them laugh, feel good, helping them better their life?  What value do you bring over the next guy?    Are you truly connecting?

How do you truly connect with your audience?   A good speaker has humility, authenticity, vulnerability.  Arrogance turns off an audience.  Don’t be there to control, but to ask what you have in common with them.  When you tell a story, tell it in such a way that in it, the audience hears their own story.  More “you” not so much “I.”  Make it about them.  Share what you learned through failure and don’t always be the hero of your own story.

How has professional speaking changed?  As a speaker, you used to be the ‘expert’ in the room.  Today you’re more of a ‘facilitator of learning,’ pulling best ideas from the audience.  You’re not the sage on the stage, but the guide on the side. Understand that there’s more wisdom in front of you than in front of them.

What if you’re giving a speech, and it’s not working?   With technology today, they give you 15 seconds to decide if you’re more interesting than what’s on their smartphone.   You look at the audience, if there are a lot that don’t seem engaged, then put them into an exercise and create interaction.

How do you book international work?   The best marketing is a good speech.  Hopefully, there will be someone there who can book you for another engagement.  Another way is speaker bureaus.  I speak at international HR conventions made up of HR Directors that can book me for future work.  My brand is Celebration – focusing on employee and customer engagement and how celebration leads to engagement which leads to a healthy, productive workplace. I choose and customize all my material to fit the needs of that particular audience.

To be a successful speaker, do you have to be good in sales?  Professional speaking is actually all about sales, you have to sell not only your message but you have to sell yourself to an audience.

How is presenting to an international audience different?  It’s about finding the common denominators, telling the universal story.  A good story transcends culture.  They have to be able to see their life in that story or relate to it.     Pull the best answers from the audience.  Get them involved.

What’s the hardest kind of audience to win over?  Attorneys and accountants!   Sometimes egos are involved, they think they can’t learn from you, so they come in close-minded.  Any audience where you have a high percentage of egotists is tough.

What’s your favorite audience to speak to?  Long-term care. They’re compassionate workers, I connect on a heart level to that audience.  Non-profits, they are good audiences as well.

What’s best about being an entrepreneur?   Every day you can throw paint against a canvas and create artistry.  I believe your career is merely a tool to create whatever lifestyle you want to lead, a chance to hang out with the people you love and a chance to make a difference in whatever way you want.  It’s a great way to celebrate life!

By Charlotte Hofer

Written by:

Scott Friedman

Scott Friedman, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) and former President of the National Speakers Association (NSA), is an internationally sought after professional speaker and author. As a motivational humorist, Scott inspires and entertains with engaging, interactive, and content-rich programs. Scott’s main areas of expertise are employee innovation & engagement, customer experience, and creating a happier, more connected workplace and life.

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