The Magic Formula for Public Speaking

This article appears in our Q2 2022 issue of Finance Transformation Magazine. To download the issue, click here

Brad Burton is the UK’s No.1 Motivational Business Speaker, a four times best selling business book author and has been public speaking for over 10 years. Brad shares with you his magic formula to becoming a better Public Speaker.

If you could simply press a magic button and become an expert public speaker, would you press it? Anything you want is probably on the other side of fear.

In my early days as a motivational speaker, I’d be back stage absolutely petrified, feeling sick, sick ahead of a 30-minute seminar that I’d somehow talked myself into... best idea ever… now the WORST idea ever.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, you’re gonna absolutely love him, prepared to be inspired, fired up and motivated, it’s MR BRAD BURTON…”

Game face on, the curtain would come back and I’d bound onto stage, with seemingly limitless energy, supreme confidence and stage presence, pointing at imaginary people in the audience, just as you’d expect a motivational speaker to do! And then a couple of tried and tested autopilot gags and I’d magically forget how terrified I was just minutes before.

When I first started professional speaking over a decade ago this is how it was, is and how it had to be. I’ve been motivating audiences for over 10 years now.

During that time I’ve headlined at Xerocon, Accountex, Generation CFO and I’m delighted to be asked to open the Accounts Payable Association annual conference later this year.

I haven’t written that to show how clever I am, but for you to understand that all the speakers you admire had to start somewhere. In my case I recall doing a 500 mile round trip to Manchester addressing an audience of 3 and 77 empty chairs. But each time you speak you learn something, something about yourself, the industry, people.

I’ve honed and perfected my talent since then, and I’ve also learnt that no-one can see your nerves. Like no one. Yet you can absolutely feel them.

The first person you have to convince of your brilliance is you. It all starts with belief, believing that you can do it. You’ll never outperform your self-image. I also used to think it was just me that was blagging it. Just like you think it’s just you. Nope. Dragons from the Den. Blagging it. Pop stars with No.1 hits. Blagging it.

Trust me I have spoken privately to many people who you seemingly would have NO idea that they had any kind of self-doubt.

I remember being on a speaker line up once with a World Champion boxer. Backstage he told me his heart was always pounding before a title defence fight… but he just couldn’t show fear, after all 10’s of millions of people globally were tuned in watching, as was his opponent, in the opposite corner who had trained equally hard and truth be known, probably also had his heart pounding. In that world, show fear and you lose.

Anything you want is probably on the other side of blagging it, other side of fear. We can’t all be Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Brad Burton!

But we can all be a better version of our self. It’s all about finding your level, and pushing just beyond your fear mode, and into the learning zone. That’s where we all find our growth.

No one is born an expert, and this will also apply to your peers within your industry, and at some point, the expert you may look up to, was blagging it.

Everyone is. Until of course they reach the point when they are not!

So, my advice for anytime you question why you are doing something is to keep going, keep on doing it, whatever it is, and every opportunity you have to learn, take it. And above all, when it gets tough, and it will, remember why you started.

I promise you this, it DOES get easier, trust me. I’m a motivational business speaker, who I think it’s fair to say, after a decade of walking into rooms full of total strangers and leaving with a room of friends, I’m NO longer blagging it!

If public speaking is one of things you are actively avoiding but would love to be more confident in – here’s 10 pro speaker tips from someone who has seen and done it all:

1. Nobody can see your nerves. You have about 2 minutes before we begin to leak the truth

2. It’s not what you say, it’s also how you say it

3. When you move, move with purpose

4. Be you, avoid putting on your telephone / Radio 4 voice

5. Don’t get it perfect, just get it going

6. Don’t tell people you are funny, make them laugh

7. Invest in some speaker training.

8. Start strong, this sets the pace for the entire speech

9. The best way to learn how not to die on stage, is by dying on stage!

10. If nerves are getting the better of you before you step onto the stage, run cold water over your wrists. Until it hurts. Believe me, it works.

About the author: Brad Burton

Brad is the Founder of Network Central, the largest joined up business network in the UK, four times best selling business author on Amazon and the UK’s No.1 Motivational Business Speaker.