We come across this question a lot, and it’s one that we have pretty strong feelings about. When it comes to the question of whether public speakers are born or made, we’re not going to sit on the fence and give you a vague answer. In fact, we think that if you take a look at different public speakers throughout history, there’s a pretty clear trend that shows you the answer to this question, that public speakers are made, not born.
And it’s not just us – public speaking expert Dale Carnegie once said, “Great speakers aren’t born, they’re trained.” Carnegie was right about a lot of things, and we think he was also right about this. Let’s take a closer look at why that is.
Why Public Speakers Are Made
Practice makes perfect
It’s an old adage but it’s a good one. People say that practice makes perfect for a reason – because the more time you spend doing something, the better you’ll become at it. Even if there were such a thing as a “natural” public speaker, born to talk to audiences, they’d still benefit from spending a lot of time practicing and further honing their craft. If you go to any conference, you’ll find it easy to spot which speakers are seasoned vets of the circuit and which are taking to the stage for the first time.
Extroversion can be learned
The single biggest reason why people say that public speakers are born rather than made is that people tend naturally to be either introverted or extroverted. Extroverts often find it easier to take to the stage and to talk to people, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be an extrovert to be a public speaker. It also doesn’t mean that if you’re naturally an introvert, you’re in trouble. Extroversion can be faked, and it can also be learned if you spend some time looking up different techniques that can help you.
It’s important to know the right people
As important as it is to understand the theory behind public speaking and to practice as much as you can, it’s also important to know the right people. It’s a classic case of it being about who you know as well as what you know and knowing the right people will help you to secure speaking engagements and build your brand as a public speaker.
When public speakers stand up in front of an audience, they’re drawing on all of the experiences that have led up to that moment. This includes both their experiences at public speaking events and their experience in the industry in which they work. If public speakers were born, they’d be able to roll up unprepared and start talking at length on any subject, but that’s not how it works. The more in-depth you go or the more you focus on an individual niche, the more apparent it will become if you don’t have the experience you need.
You need to know the rules
Like many other art forms, you need to know the rules before you can break them. The best public speakers are familiar with the core concepts of public speaking and have spent time studying the theory. Even when they don’t follow the so-called “rules” to the letter, they’re breaking them in such a way that is productive.
You also need to know your audience
For a talk to be delivered effectively, you need to know the audience that you’re talking to. That’s because it allows you to tailor what you’re talking about so your audience can relate to what you’re saying. But getting to know your audience takes time, and that’s yet another reason to assert that public speakers are made rather than born.
Language develops over time
None of us is born with the ability to speak, and at birth, we’re all capable of learning any language that exists. It all comes down to the language that our parents speak and the one that we’re exposed to the most. But our linguistic abilities continue to develop over time, and therefore our ability to talk continues to develop as we’re exposed to more language.
Your personal brand matters
When it comes to public speaking, our personal brand is what sets us apart from other speakers. Back in the day, it wasn’t as difficult, because the industry wasn’t as saturated and there were fewer opportunities for personal branding. These days, we need to build our personal brand over time through everything from social networking to blogging and content creation. Our personal brand is something that we make, and even the children of celebrities with strong personal brands of their own still need to develop their own personal brand over time.
Your talks develop over time
If you’ve ever delivered the same talk to multiple audiences or you’ve covered the same topic a bunch of different times, you’ll have noticed that your message evolves over time. As public speakers, we’re constantly assessing our audiences and judging how they react to our message. If something doesn’t work, we don’t use it the next time. There’s always room for improvement, and people who believe in natural talent risk stagnating.
Now that you know why great public speakers are formed by time and hard work rather than being born with an innate gift for oratory, we want to hear from you. Do you agree with us, are you undecided or do you disagree with us and think that great public speakers are just born that way?
As always, we’d love to keep the discussion going, so be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments. You can also follow us on your social media sites of choice for more and keep your eyes peeled for another article. We’ll see you soon!