The One Skill That Will Boost Your Income By 50%



public speakingOn 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.



public speakingTypically 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.  



public speakingThankfully 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

public speakingAfter 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

public speakingSo 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.


Leaders Communicate

public speakingSince 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.


Building Trust

public speakingBy 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.


Increased Exposure

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?



public speakingLook 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

public speakingFigure 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.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.


  1. Great post MSM. I can’t speak highly enough of the value of learning public speaking. Back when I started my career, I joined Toastmasters to hone my public speaking skills, because I rarely had a chance to use them in front of an audience with my just-out-of-college job. That paid off in spades when I had the opportunity to speak in front my my company a few years ago. “My company” is 30,000 people. The CEO and CIO were sitting in the front row. And I just killed it – the speech was only five minutes long, but people still remember it to this day. So be sure to practice those public speaking skills-you just never know when they’ll come in handy.
    Liz@ChiefMomOfficer recently posted…Breadwinning (Soon to be!) Moms – She Picks Up PenniesMy Profile

    • Wow it’s great that you delivered a speech that resonates with people. It must have been really inspiring and informative.
      I also joined Toastmasters one summer and was really happy with all the group support that I got. It was such an encouraging and collaborative environment. I’m glad you found it helpful too!
      Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…5 Frugal Wins & 2 Frugal Fails – May 10, 2017My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Liz!!! I’ve only heard good things about Toastmasters. While I feel comfortable speaking in crowds I’m sure I can refine my skill sets some more.

      BTW…that’s awesome that you were able to crush your speech especially in front of the CEO and CIO!!! That must have been a big moment.

  2. I’ve never had the opportunity to speak in public (except for presenting my thesis in college, but that doesn’t really count, I knew every single professor in the audience), but I did perform on stage when I was little and managed to ‘keep it cool’ and not make an idiot out of myself.

    Now, this was a looong time ago, but even though the thought of public speaking makes me nauseous, I know stage fright wouldn’t be a problem. If you KNOW what you’re talking about, it’s impossible to make a fool out yourself. Confidence builds itself if you talk about things that are familiar to you 🙂
    Adriana @MoneyJourney recently posted…5 frugal mother’s day gifts & surprisesMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Adriana!!! I definitely agree that if you are confident in your material that it makes much it much easier 🙂 I know for me it was really easy but I love talking finances!!!

  3. What an awesome experience for you folks! Making a difference directly in so many others lives I’m sure was very rewarding! Any future speaking engagements?

    Public speaking has never been a personal strength for me but I have taken steps to improve and can get by. Wish it came more naturally though 🙂
    The Green Swan recently posted…The Swan Life: April 2017My Profile

  4. I may need to borrow your wife’s “We rebuke debt in the name of Jesus” line, that was too funny.
    I’ve gotten better a public speaking over the course of my career. I can recall a few times where I was SO nervous. The mind can be hard to tame. If I’m in a comfortable environment (e.g. my work location) I do much better. Outside of work I still get a bit nervous, but nowhere nears a bad as in the past. It may be a good idea to look into Toastmasters.
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…The Raging Mortgage DebateMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Mr. Need2Save!!! I definitely feel more nervous at work than I do outside of work. I think it’s probably b/c I don’t want to screw up at work where as if I screw up outside of work there are no consequences 🙂

  5. Communication, in general, is the biggest skill for my workplace. I’ve seen numerous cases where it’s not the smartest person who gets the promotion, but the person who can articulate their ideas the best.

    I love reading about how you are helping people each and every day. Keep it up 🙂
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted…The Five People You Meet In HeavenMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Erik!!! I definitely agree those that get promoted are not the necessarily the smartest. It’s those that can effectively communicate to everyone that can motivate a team and get them moving in one direction 🙂

  6. I do a lot of public speaking for my career. The main thing I can add is, it’s important to periodically take a class or tape yourself giving a presentation. Over time you pick up bad habits. I took a class late last year where I noted I needed to boost my volume. The reason in my case was not that I’m a nervous public speaking. A lot of it had to do with half my presentations are on the phone in a cubicle environment where I need to keep it down. It had rubbed off into my in person speeches.
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…Should I use Credit Cards?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing FullTime Finance!!! That’s great advice and something I didn’t consider. I normally speak low but fortunately usually have a microphone to amplify my voice. Definitely a great reminder.

  7. I’ve always enjoyed public speaking, at least relative to the average person. It can be a frightening adrenaline rush, but if you perform even reasonably well it’s a huge victory every time.

    I used to make people on my team join Toastmasters (then one of them pointed out if it was so good, why didn’t I join with him…touché) – it’s a great and safe forum to build confidence and improve your skills. Anyone from a novice to the most experienced speaker can benefit.

    Also start young! My 4th grader joined a “TED-Ed” club at school and they just delivered their first formal speech – videotape and everything. It was fun to see him work through jitters I first experienced at a much older age.
    Paul recently posted…When Necessities Become LuxuriesMy Profile

    • Wow I had no idea there were TED-Ed clubs at school now. I definitely want to encourage my son to join. I know I took drama classes growing up so I could learn to speak in public so this sounds like a perfect update environment 🙂

  8. I do enjoy public speaking to a certain extent. I find that if I am passionate about a subject and I know that subject well, then I will not be as nervous when I speak. However, if I have no interest in the subject or I have to do lots of research for the presentation, I will probably not do too well.

    One thing that I find that will make public speaking easier is to let go of your fear of being judged. I don’t judge people and I don’t put too much thought on people judging me. Once you let go of your fear, your speech will start to flow.
    Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…A Beginner’s Guide To Owning Rental PropertiesMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Leo!!! I have a hard time at times trying not to worry what others are thinking when I speak. Although it makes it easier when you feel confident in your subject material.

  9. I’m glad Ms. Mustard Seed Money had a great time delivering the speech. I used to be so scared of public speaking that I could barely say anything. I’ve realized that the key is to practice a lot and know in your head what you want to say. That way you don’t have to rely on the notes or get an anxiety attack if you forget something.

    Thanks for sharing this great experience!

  10. What a terrific point! Public speaking skills are truly such an asset. I am definitely not comfortable with public speaking and haven’t done much of it, but I believe I could improve if I tried. Becoming a teacher helped me to get over a lot of those fears, and it absolutely was all about practice!
    Mrs. COD recently posted…Frugal Friday: Free Summer Fun My Profile

  11. The best way to learn how to be an effective public speaker is by doing! I enjoy public speaking and I do it regularly for my job. I do, however, get nervous each time before I speak. I think that is just part of speaking in front of people. Continuous breathing and eye contact with your audience are the two big things I learned that helped make me more effective at public speaking.
    The Grounded Engineer recently posted…Flooded basement – 7 steps to a dry basementMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks!!! Scanning the room and giving everyone attention at some point is something I constantly have to remind myself.

  12. Great to hear your talk at your church went well. Just re-enforces that there are many people out there than need help. I dreaded public speaking for years, but during college took a public speaking class, and over my career have overcame the fear. I’ve been speaking locally now for over two years sharing out get out of debt story and helping others. Public speaking help raise your overall confidence, and can be a great assets no matter what your passions are.
    Brian recently posted…Finding Better BalanceMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Brian!!! I definitely agree that this is one of those skill sets that I wish I had developed earlier in my career. It’s always nice to have more tools in the tool belt 🙂

  13. Great post as I believe communication (along with emotional intelligence) is the biggest factor in someone’s future career success. I would love to recommend an awesome book on this topic called “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking”. The book is about insights gained from people giving TED and how they prepared. It contains great information on how to perfectly craft a short speech and keep your listeners engaged.

  14. Great post MSM! Awesome for you and your wife to support your local marriage ministry too!

    “Readers, do you enjoy public speaking?”

    Yes and no. 🙂 I used to speak at tech conferences back when I was early in running my last company. I was always a nervous wreck before going out on stage, but once I got into the groove, it was fine.

    Currently my wife and I teach a budgeting basics class at the local homeless shelter. Nerves haven’t been an issue with that – but it’s usually 20-25 people, so 1/10th of the conference crowds.

    Everyone should develop this skill. Join a local Toast Masters if needed. It’s very useful to be able to speak in front of a group.
    Financial Coach Brad recently posted…What is the best way to invest small amounts of money?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Brad!!! I definitely agree that this is a skill set that everyone should learn. It breeds confidence and is a positive loop cycle 🙂

  15. I have to present results of audits I perform all the time (many times to senior management personnel). For me the key is to make sure I got all my ducks in a row, am accurate, transparent, and don’t ramble on (just stick to the facts). If this is done, it will give me confidence and comfort when I speak rather than fear (although there is always a little bit of fear lingering) 🙂
    SMM recently posted…Are Colleges Teaching Personal Finance?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing SMM!!! I definitely try to be as short and succinct as possible. I dont like listening to ppl ramble so why ramble myself 🙂

  16. “…in the name of Jesus” gotta love that! I’m glad to hear you had a successful evening!

    I was an actor and I’ve done a lot of public speaking. Acting is easier if you can shroud yourself in a role. Some people do that with public speaking but if you really want to connect, you should be yourself. Still, some are able to belnd the two by developing a public persona.

    One of the easiest ways of attacking public speaking, aside from knowing what you’re going to talk about and having a great outline, is to concentrate on the physicality of how you present. How you plant your feet, breathe, what you do with your hands, and eye focus are key for staying in control. I cringe when I watch TedTalks and see people slightly swaying from side to side. That’s a dead give-away they’re not confident.
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…Sure, I’m the Fabulous Mr. Groovy, But I’m Still a Dude with FlawsMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Mrs. Groovy!!! I love hearing the tips and tricks from actress!!! I was lucky that we were sitting on stools but if I’m ever standing I will definitely review your tips 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!

  17. Public speaking is a great tool and opportunity, and it requires a lot of hard work and sweat. I have a goal, or manifest for my blog, is to show that American Dream is still alive and I know that in addition to my writing I have to improve my speaking as well.
    But every time when I think about speaking in front of 5+ people I start nervous. Probably I should start form 2+ people and do baby steps 🙂
    Friendly Russian recently posted…What about emergency fund?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Friendly Russian!!! I definitely think that you should go after and share your dream. Based on some of the comments you should consider joining a toastmasters class to help build up your confidence 🙂

  18. I used to fear public speaking a bit, but I’ve gotten very comfortable with it. Now I see others freak when senior level executives pop into the office and they worry what these people will think of them. The one bit of advice I always give coworkers around things like this it they are just people. Sure they may have more power in the company, but they still have the same wants, needs, and desire to converse with other normally. Most of the time they are just great people who have an air of power around them that keeps people away.

    • Thanks for sharing Duncan’s Dividends!!! I definitely agree that they are just like us with the same needs and wants. I found as I’ve moved up that the title carries more weight than the person 🙂

  19. When I was a department store manager, public speaking certainly helped my career. I think another valuable skill is the ability to run a meeting efficiently. A great way to practice both these skills is to get involved charitable or religious activities…you can do some good while honing your abilities. I’m glad your ministry talk went so well!
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…The Death Knell for Sears, K-Mart, and Shop Your Way?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Gary!!! Running an efficient meeting is so underrated!!! I know I have a stand up meeting so that nobody gets too comfortable which makes people speak as quickly and efficiently as possible 🙂

  20. When I was younger, everyone thought it was cute that I was so nervous during class speeches. That did not help me become a better speaker. In fact, I took the sympathy as a reinforcement and got even worst at it throughout the years subconsciously. Sympathy points do not help but I also did not think how powerful a gift like speaking to a large group of people can do for your career. Oh how I wish I read this post even just 7 years ago.

    One of my friends spent $500 to take a public engagement course (I thought he was nuts) but he is now the VP of a Japanese tech start up at the age of 29. Pretty impressive.
    Lily recently posted…Why Some People Just Won’t SaveMy Profile

    • Wow talk about an incredible return on investment for you friend!!! I think people under rate the investment that public speaking will have for you 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!

  21. So true!! Public speaking is such an awesome skill when you are at work. It isn’t only about presenting yourself in front of a bunch of people, it is also communicating to the people you regularly work with too!

    • Thanks for stopping by Master Duke!!! I definitely agree it’s such a useful skill. There are not a ton of people that can communicate effectively, so when one does people tend to gravitate towards them.

  22. Hi MSM,

    Great to read and see how it was for you both! If the topic isn’t something you know well or love then it is easy to get nervous before hand. As you say above – practice. Practice, practice, practice. Time yourself, stand up in front of an empty room and give your speech.
    Know your audience I would also add – make sure the message will resonate.
    Good luck with the toastmasters!
    FIREin’ London recently posted…April & May 2017 Stock PurchasesMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by FIREin’ London!!! I definitely agree that practice makes perfect. It’s like taking a public test 🙂 If you don’t practice/study ahead of time the chances of acing the exam are small!!!

  23. Hey MSM,
    Thanks for sharing your public speaking experience. I can certainly see the value in public speaking and how it can increase career opportunities. However, I absolutely cannot stand public speaking. Although I took a presentations course during college, and have worked numerous jobs that I need to communicate with people, I have not been able to overcome my fear. There’s just something about speaking in front of large groups. As soon as I’m in front of a large group, I get too inside my own head to remember what I was trying to say. I’ve honestly gotten to a point where I’ve accepted that it’s not my strength and tend to stay away from public speaking situations as much as possible. I don’t think that it impacts me negatively though. While a lot of people want to overcome their fears, I believe in working harder on my strengths instead. Thanks for sharing the post!
    Graham @ Reverse The Crush recently posted…An Investment Strategy to build a Cash Flow MachineMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Graham!!! I definitely am a fan of playing to ones strengths 🙂 What’s the point in being a jack of all trades but master of none!!!

    • I believe that those that can communicate effectively are promoted faster and have more recognition in the company since they get more face time with larger audiences 🙂

  24. Public speaking is somethin I would like to be better at.

    Being more natural and relax is one thing. Mastering the art to have an engaging approach to any topic is another.

    I hope soon to practice again on options or ETF investing
    Amber tree recently posted…Tracking the right things.My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Amber Tree!!! Practice is definitely the key to success in any field. Definitely a skill that I need to continue working on as well 🙂

  25. Hello! I got some tips from my psychologist when I was at university and she helpen me to get through all of those tough presentations. The key was to practice alot, and to breathe during your speech.

  26. Great freaking post MSM. I love it and the story hits home for me. I’m not the best public speaker and will get nervous about it from time to time. Writing on a blog is one thing, but getting in front of a crowd is another story. I’m glad to read about your story where you talked about something that you are passionate about and know a ton about, but still had some nerves. You all tackled your nerves and sounds like you knocked it out of the park. Kudos to you two! Thanks for the read today.

    Dividend Diplomats recently posted…Three Painful Housing Expense IncreasesMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Bert!!! I had a blast doing this and I definitely hope to have the opportunity again in the future as I’d love to continue practicing my public speaking skills (I never thought I’d ever say that).

    • Thanks for stopping by Sean!!! I didn’t think I’d ever do it either so I’m here to share that it’s not nearly as bad as society says it is 🙂

  27. I have to present to crowds frequently for my line of work (benefits). I know that many people feel a lot of anxiety before speaking to a group and I certainly was that way back in High School, College, and early in my career too. The longer I’ve been working in my field, however, the more confident I feel because I know the material and subject more and more each day I hone the craft. I rarely need notes if I have prepared the slides myself.

    However, I had to suffer through a few ‘speaking with confidence’ training sessions that were supposed to help me get over any nervous ticks I may have had (by filming me no less and playing it back to me with critiques). However, when you are handed a subject that you are neither interested in or knowledgeable about in the spirit of just ‘seeing how you do under fire in a room of colleagues who are going to critique the heck out of you’? That is painful, not really that helpful, and makes non-public speakers feel even more out of their comfort zone because they are forced to make up stuff about a subject they know little about. I don’t know if toastmasters is similar to that but I know some colleagues had really good experiences with it so it must be worthwhile.

    Way to crush it you guys! Sounds like it was a great experience for both of you.
    Mrs.Need2Save recently posted…3 LEGACY GIFTS FROM MY MOMMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Mrs. Need2Save!!! I definitely think experience helps a ton and I honestly haven’t done nearly as much public speaking as I probably should have at this point. Hopefully I’ll have some more opportunities in the future 🙂

  28. Oh hallelujah to this post. I have been engaging and coaching public speaking for over 25 years (6 years as a speech/debate competitor in college/high school, 8 years as a college coach, and over 15 years of teaching public speaking at the college level). Plus, i do workshops for people on the side and I run our public speaking program at our school. Ironically, the chair of my department doesn’t see it as a big skill. I wish I could show him this post. Public speaking is something that almost everyone can learn to improve upon and it has been my mission to help people (and will continue to do so) for really the bulk of my life. Here, here on this post.
    Jason recently posted…My Advice to New College Graduates: Live Like a College StudentMy Profile

  29. The biggest factor that’s led me to being comfortable speaking with strangers and to crowds is the realization that we’re all just people. Add in the ‘spotlight effect’ where you believe people pay way more attention to you than they actually do, and it’s no wonder people get anxious. Worrying too much about what others think causes people to appear nervous and not be themselves in these situations, but when you take that away, it’s actually pretty easy to let go and charm a room. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Thanks for sharing Ryan!!! I totally agree when you think they are all human that it makes it that much easier. Plus they’re there to see YOU!!! That’s the best part to me 🙂

  30. MSM nice post and it sounds like you had a great turn out. It also sounds like you guys did a great job with it.
    Although not specifically “public speaking” in project management I do a lot of facilitation at different stages of the projects. I have been told I am good at what I do and the way I do it. I think people are afraid to make a mistake, say something wrong, etc, but if you can get past that you are all set. The rest is as someone else said, you are just talking to other people. In this case they came there to see/learn from you.
    FIbythecommonguy recently posted…Net Worth Report #1- BaselineMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing FIbythecommonguy!!! The more and more I learn about project management the more it becomes evident how important a skill set it is to have. Definitely something that I need to improve on 🙂

  31. Just started Toastmasters for the 3rd time. I’ve also realized the power of public speaking, especially at work, but I get so nervous that I usually end up quitting after 1-2 weeks. Your post has inspired me to keep at it for a little longer than time and finally conquer this fear of mine.

  32. I never considered myself a strong public speaker and I always got insanely nervous and would turn red-faced and sweaty right in the middle of speaking. Over the last couple of years I’ve had to give presentations a number of times and I’ve slowly gotten better at it (though I still hate them!). To me the key is preparation. I need to feel prepared and confident with the subject matter and that I can handle any questions that come my way.
    Mike from Budget Kitty recently posted…The Best Survey Sites To Make Extra Money From HomeMy Profile

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