Storytelling Tip: You don’t have to be a great orator to be a great speaker


Storytelling Tip: You don’t have to be a great orator to be a great speaker
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
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By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel

Storytelling Tip: You don't have to be a great orator to be a great speakerAre you afraid of standing up in front of an audience and speaking? If so, you’re not alone.

Giving a great speech isn’t about being a great orator. And it’s certainly not about being perfect. It’s about having something to say your audience considers worth hearing.

Years ago, the Book of Lists ranked speaking in public as the number one fear humans have. They even ranked it above dying and being sick. I’m not sure I buy that. But it is a common fear.

Where does the fear come from? It’s about being afraid to make a mistake while everyone’s watching. We all hate making mistakes — especially when one of our mistakes gets noticed. If you’re standing in front of a group of people all looking at you, any mistakes you make are likely to get noticed. That can be embarrassing.

But guess what. It’s okay to make a mistake. In fact, gracefully accepting that you made a mistake and moving on makes your audience like you more. Because it makes you human.

Another big fear about speaking in public is not knowing what to say. If you find yourself unable to figure out what to say in your next presentation, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why am I speaking to this audience? What do I want to happen because I spoke? Okay, maybe your boss said you have to make the presentation. But you still should have an objective, a desired result. What is it?
  • What do I want the people in my audience to know or believe?
  • Why will they care? What do they want to know?

If you know the answers to these questions, you’re ready to give a good speech. Tell your audience what you want them to know or believe in a way they’ll find interesting. Do that and you’ll deliver a great speech, even if you’re not a great orator.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?


Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 |

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at on the Internet.

1 Comment
  1. Another great article, Jerry. While there’s not much we could probably say to calm those with extreme public speaking fears, I do think that starting kids in school with public speaking at an early age helps reduce the fear dramatically later in life.

    I agree – I think most of us put too much pressure on ourselves for public speaking to go perfectly. I appreciate your suggestions!

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