How to Become a Public Speaker: 9 Steps to Speaking Success

August 31, 2023


9 min read

How to Become a Public Speaker - 11 Steps to Speaking Success

If you have a powerful message to share or if you have a knack for communication, public speaking might be the path for you. To learn how to become a public speaker, follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way.

Becoming a public speaker entails more than just delivering speeches. Here are the steps we’ll cover:

  1. Identify your expertise.
  2. Identify your target audience.
  3. Learn how to write speeches.
  4. Learn how to deliver speeches.
  5. Establish and online presence.
  6. Network.
  7. Start speaking.
  8. Be patient and persistent—and have fun.
  9. Keep growing.

#1: Identify Your Expertise

Before you can become a public speaker, you must figure out what you’re going to speak about. People want to hear from someone who knows what they’re talking about. So, first, you must identify your expertise or develop expertise in an area.

We’ll go through some of the steps to do this. But, first, let’s get clarity on what it means to be an expert on something.

Qualities of Experts

  • Specific education, training, and knowledge. An expert has a deep understanding of the subject matter they’re an expert in. They have the necessary education, training, and knowledge to be able to speak authoritatively on the subject.
  • Required qualifications. In some fields, there are specific qualifications that are required to be considered an expert. For example, to be a physician, you need to have a medical degree.
  • Ability to assess importance in work-related situations. An expert is able to quickly assess the importance of information and data in a work-related situation. They’re able to identify considerations and make informed decisions.
  • Capability to improve themselves. An expert is always learning and growing. They’re constantly seeking out new information and knowledge to improve their skills and knowledge.
  • Intuition. An expert often has a gut feeling or intuition about things. They’re able to see patterns and connections that others might not see.
  • Self-assurance and confidence in their knowledge. An expert is confident in their knowledge and abilities. They’re not afraid to speak up and share their knowledge with others.

It’s important to note that expertise isn’t static. It’s something you can develop and grow over time. The more you learn and practice, the more expert you’ll become.

Now, let’s turn to some of the ways you can identify your own expertise.

How to Identify Your Expertise

  • Reflect on your skills and knowledge. What are you good at? What do you know a lot about? What are you passionate about?
  • Consider your education and training. What have you studied? What certifications do you have?
  • Think about your experience. What have you done in the past that has given you expertise in a particular area?
  • Get feedback from others. Ask your friends, family, colleagues, and mentors for their input on your skills and knowledge.
  • Take assessments. Many online assessments can help you identify your strengths.
  • Set goals. What do you want to be an expert in? When you know what you want to achieve, you can start working toward it.

Once you know your area of expertise, you can start to develop your message and find audiences who are interested in what you have to say.

#2: Identify Your Target Audience

To become a public speaker, you must not only have something to speak about; you also must have someone to speak to. Your speaking is a service. So, you must identify a target customer just as any business with a service must do. Who will “buy your service”? Who wants or needs to hear what you have to say?

To begin to identify your target audience, consider your competition. Who are your competitors? Who else speaks about what you speak about? Whom are they targeting? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Consider where your audience will overlap with the audience of your competitors. Think about where you might fill a gap.

Next, ask the following questions:

  • What are the demographics of your target audience? This might include their location, age, sex, education level, occupation, and income level.
  • What are the psychographics of your target audience? This might include their worldview, values, beliefs, attitudes, fears, hopes, and interests.
  • What are the pain points of your target audience? What problems or challenges do they have that you could solve?
  • What are the needs and wants of your target audience? What are they looking for that you might have?
  • Where can you find your target audience? Where do they spend their time? What websites do they visit? What social media platforms do they use?

The more you know about your target audience, the better you’ll be able to tailor your marketing to their needs and interests. This will help you reach them with your message and achieve your goals.

Your Audience Persona

Consider creating an audience persona. This is a named, fictional representation of your ideal audience member. It can help you better understand them. And, you’ll be more likely to remember that you’re speaking to a real person with real needs and desires.

By taking the time to identify your target audience, you can give yourself the best chance of marketing your speaking services successfully.

#3: Learn How to Write Speeches

If you want to become a public speaker, you’ll need to know how to write speeches. A well-written speech is essential for a successful public speaking performance. When writing your speech, be sure to:

  • Choose a clear and concise topic. Make it about one thing. Not ten things. Not four things. One thing.
  • Tailor your message to your target audience so that it’s relevant and engaging.
  • Organize your thoughts in a logical way.
  • Use vivid language and imagery.
  • Don’t consider it done until you speak it out loud and make any necessary edits. Remember that people won’t read your speech; they’ll hear it. Speechwriting is not the same as essay writing.

If you’re wondering how to learn your speeches without reading them word-for-word, check out these articles:

10 Ways to Internalize a Speech & Reduce Dependence on Notes

How to Memorize a Speech (In 5 Easy Steps!)

#4: Learn How to Deliver Speeches

Of course, if you want to become a public speaker, you must have the right delivery skills in addition to writing skills. These include:

  • Engaging your audience: This means connecting with your audience by making eye contact, using gestures, and speaking in a clear and winsome way. Learn more about audience engagement.
  • Reading your audience: You must learn how to read a room well so that you can make adjustments as you go and keep your audience with you.
  • Nonverbal communication: The words you say are only part of what you communicate. Pay attention to what you’re doing with your eyes, your smile, your hands, etc.
  • Use of visual aids: Visual aids can improve audience engagement and their ability to retain information. But, be sure to use visual aids strategically if you use them at all.
  • Storytelling: People love stories. So, your audience is far more likely to pay attention and remember what you say if you use stories.
  • Start and end strong: How you start a speech will set the tone; if you don’t grab attention at the start, you’re unlikely to ever get it. How you start a speech impacts how you and your speech will be remembered.

Develop Your Public Speaking Skills

Lots of resources are out there to help you improve your public speaking skills. Of course, to develop any skill, the most important thing to do is practice. Speaking classes, associations such as the National Speakers Association, and clubs such as Toastmasters provide these opportunities as well as training.

Of course, you always can practice in front of family and friends. And, if you’d like to practice on your own, Yoodli’s free AI speech app provides endless opportunities for practice as well as instant feedback on your word choices and delivery.

Also, a mentor or coach can provide you with guidance and support as you develop your public speaking skills. Here’s what to look for in a public speaking coach. 

With practice and effort, you can improve your public speaking skills and become a more confident and effective speaker. Check out our article “9 Strategies for Effective Public Speaking Skills” for more on this topic.

#5: Establish an Online Presence

If you want to be a successful public speaker, you must have a professional online presence. This is nonnegotiable. This means having a website and social media profiles where you can share your expertise and connect with audiences and potential audiences. A podcast or a video channel on sites like YouTube are also excellent ideas.

An online presence is one of the best ways to establish and grow an audience. Once you’re ready to “go live,” make sure you’re online with a professional and active presence. Amateurish, sloppy, and out-of-date sites and profiles don’t make a positive impression. It’s not enough that you set up an online presence. People will regard even the most professional-looking site or profile as unprofessional if it’s not consistently active.

Get the Equipment You Need

Being online as a public speaker entails making and uploading videos (and possibly livestreaming) and/or audio. So, you’ll want to make sure you invest in a webcam, a microphone, and lighting to create quality videos that show you’re the real deal. You don’t have to go over the top, as equipment can get expensive, but try to at least match the quality of your competitors’ work.

#6: Network

Network with people, including—but certainly not limited to—other speakers. Attend industry events and connect with other speakers. Join speakers associations and clubs. These are great ways to learn from others and find opportunities to speak. Chances are, there’s at least one networking group in your area. Connect with others, let them know what you do, and more opportunities are bound to come your way.

Here are some ideas on how to make the most of networking events and mixers: “Career Mixers 101: A Guide to Success.”

#7: Start Speaking

To become a public speaker, start speaking! Even before you have invitations, you can seek out opportunities or make them yourself. Once you have your message and your skills in development (not perfect), start speaking locally and/or online for free. This is a great way to gain experience, get feedback, and build your reputation and audience. Even if only 12 people attend your speech, or five people watch your video, or nobody listens to your podcast, you’re getting invaluable experience.

Check with the Toastmasters and Rotary clubs in your area, and start uploading videos of your talks to your site and social media profiles.

#8: Be Patient & Persistent—& Have Fun

Becoming a successful public speaker takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a speaking gig or build a big audience right away.

Don’t let setbacks stop you. Along the way, you’re likely to experience public speaking anxiety. Building a reputation and an audience will be slow going. Some days, you’ll feel like you’re just speaking into the wind. The important thing is to keep going. Learn from your mistakes. Grow through the challenges. Keep your expectations in check.

Whatever. youdo, have fun. Public speaking can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. If you’re not having fun, it will show. So, relax, enjoy yourself, and let your passion for your topic shine through.

#9: Keep Growing

There’s no such thing as public speaking perfection. Knowledge and skills have no limit. Success has no ceiling. Keep practicing and networking, and you will find your audience. Yoodli would love to be a partner on your journey to becoming a public speaker. Let’s go!

Note: This post was created in partnership with artificial intelligence.


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