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On Saturday my wife and I had the opportunity to speak at a Marriage Ministry event through our church. This was the first time that we had ever been asked to speak on finances together.
In order to prepare, my wife and I received the questions ahead of time and rehearsed to properly prepare. Specifically, we wanted to ensure that each of us had solid talking points. Our goal was that one of us (me) was not hogging the mic.
Editor’s Note: For the record, I was perfectly fine with Rob doing all the talking. Personal finance is his passion not mine, but I love him and love supporting him. So I was happy to be by his side. Plus, it was an incredible an honor to be selected to participate on this panel.
Typically before events or public speaking, I am overwhelmed with nerves. This time, though, I was totally calm and not anxious. Now, my wife, on the other hand, is normally cool as a cucumber. But she was a ball of nerves on the drive over to church. She began to second guess almost everything we had planned to talk about. I have to admit that she threw me for a bit of a loop.
She was concerned that we were not staying on-topic and that we wouldn’t have enough helpful information for the audience. She also admitted that she was anxious to speak in front of a crowd. At first, we thought it was going to be smaller one, like 10-20 couples. However there ended up being 100+ couples in the audience. That’s a lot of eyeballs watching you.
Thankfully everything went really well, and my wife crushed it. I had no doubt that she would. The funniest line of the night came from her when a facilitator brought up debt, and she replied, “We rebuke debt in the name of Jesus.” The audience roared with laughter and helped make financial matters a little more palatable.
Afterwards, a bunch of couples came up to us and said they really connected with our talk. We had multiple people ask to meet to discuss their finances in further detail. We, of course, agreed as we are happy to help.
A Very Common Fear
After the event was over, my wife and I were driving home, and I asked her why she got so nervous beforehand. She admitted that she may have let her nerves get the best of her.
This doesn’t surprise me though because according to one research study, 74% of people have anxiety when it comes to public speaking. And then I came across this quote from Jerry Seinfeld:
“I read a thing that actually says that speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear of the average person. I found that amazing – number two was death! That means to the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
A Valuable Skill
So clearly, public speaking is something that the average person hates to do. Here is the thing about it. Being able to publicly speak is an incredibly valuable skill to have. Back in 2009, Warren Buffett spoke to a business class at Columbia University and said,
“Right now, I would pay $100,000 for 10% of the future earnings of any of you, so if you’re interested, see me after class.”
After everyone in the room had finished laughing, he then grew serious and said,
“Now, you can improve your value by 50% just by learning communication skills–public speaking. If that’s the case, see me after class and I’ll pay you $150,000.”
Warren Buffett’s point was that the single greatest skill to boost your career is mastering the art of public speaking.
So let’s examine how public speaking can boost your income.
Since most people are afraid to speak in public, people gravitate towards an effective orator and regard them as leaders. Think about some of the greatest orators of our time: Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela. All of them were able to effectively communicate their messages. In turn, they gained massive appeal from their audiences. These types of individuals are highly sought after, especially former Presidents.
By speaking in front of an audience, you are completely vulnerable as every person hangs on your every word. Many listen with the intent to judge. If you are genuine in your message, you will begin to build a rapport with your audience, which in turn will gain their trust. If the audience trusts the message you are delivering, they will become more likely to seek (and even pay for) your opinion in the future.
On Saturday, my wife and I had the ability to share with over 200 people our perspective on godly stewardship of finances. In turn, we met people that we probably would have never otherwise encountered. We were able to set up some time to meet with certain people regarding their finances. We also experienced a nice spike on the website, further increasing our exposure.
So what can you do in order to become a better public speaker?
Look for local Toastmaster classes or public speaking opportunities. The only way that you’re going to improve is if you practice.
Let me repeat this. PRACTICE. Make sure that you practice and rehearse over and over again. There are too many people that don’t practice at all and just wing it. They normally do poorly. They then believe they stink at public speaking and never attempt at it again.
Learn to have a conversation with your audience. Be engaging.
Nobody likes somebody reading powerpoint slides to them. Along the same lines, nobody wants to see the top of your head while you read your speech. Speak to your audience as if you are addressing each individual personally.
Learn to receive feedback from your audience
Figure out your key talking points and then gauge where the audience wants to go based off their feedback. On Saturday, I went over a concept that I thought was fairly straightforward, avoiding lifestyle inflation. The audience looked at me like I had three heads, so I had to explain the concept and ensure that they understood why avoiding that was vital to their financial success.
I also received looks of bewilderment when I said the phrase “loan amortization spreadsheet” in reference to how I effectively paid off my mortgage. I had to take a few extra minutes to explain what in the world I was talking about because most of my audience was unfamiliar.
So while public speaking is not always natural, with a little bit of practice over time, you can master the art of public speaking.
Readers, do you enjoy public speaking? Has public speaking at work given you a pay boost? Do you have any tips to share? Share your thoughts below.