The Positive Public Speaking Attitude | Media Training

I’m annoyed anytime I see or hear the following quote:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
― Henry Ford

Because it usually means a middle school principal is about to give a cheesy, generic motivational pep talk to a bunch of apathetic students.

However, when it comes to public speaking, the above aphorism really is true. If you tell yourself you are a good speaker and are willing to do a little work, anyone can easily become a good public speaker. (Contrast this with me telling myself that I can be a New York Yankee or an underwear model–my ‘positive thinking’ won’t help a bit!)

But the reverse is also true. If you tell yourself repeatedly that you aren’t a good speaker, it will become true.

Recently, I had a client refer me to a friend and as a gift to the friend, wanted to purchase my services to help the friend give a better acceptance speech at a major awards banquet. The person I was to train was highly intelligent, articulate and had advanced professional degrees. He was also passionate about the charities he was supporting. In short, he had everything he needed to be a great public speaker.

But every conversation I had with him ended up like this:

“TJ, I’m not much of a public speaker.”

“I don’t see myself as a good speaker.”

“I’m afraid I’ll forget, so I will write everything down and read it.”

“I’d like to rehearse, but I am too busy.”

“Public speaking isn’t really my thing.”

So this client systematically ignored all of my advice, never would meet with me for an actual training or rehearsal, and went ahead and gave the speech, head down, reading.

The result? Nothing bad; no one remembered the speech 5 minutes later.

But also, nothing good: Nobody remembered anything about the speech 5 minutes later.

And that is the sad part.


What are you telling yourself about your own speaking skills? Whether you realize it or not, you are listening to you.


TJ Walker is a public speaking coach. You can reach him at 212.764.4955

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