Why Public Speaking Is Like Flying a Plane


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Why Public Speaking Is Like Flying a Plane

Public speakers and pilots have a lot in common, whether you realize it or not. Sure, we’re not saying that Winston Churchill could have flown a 747, but we do think that he had a surprising amount in common with the guy who takes you to the Bahamas for your holidays.

Of course, we’re not just asking you to take our word for it, and so in today’s article, we’re going to take a look at ten reasons why public speaking is like flying a plane. Before you know it, you’ll be in the mood to deliver a keynote – or to jet off on your next vacation.

So without further ado, chocs away!

Why Public Speaking is Like Flying a Plane

1.      People are afraid of flying

get the job done

The fear of public speaking is the most widespread phobia in the world, beating out the fears of spiders, heights and death. Given that most of us know someone who’s afraid of flying, it seems safe to say that public speaking and flying a plane are both similar in that they require people to overcome a major societal phobia to get the job done.

2.      It takes a lot of training

You can’t just graduate from high school and become a pilot, and the same is true of being a public speaker. True, it’s not as though an untrained public speaker can crash a plane, but they can deliver a shoddy presentation and leave attendees underwhelmed by it. For public speakers to be at their best, they need to spend a lot of time training and practicing, which is one of the reasons why we’re so committed to sharing the latest tips and best practices in our blog posts.

3. Not everyone can be a pilot

Not everyone has what it takes to become a pilot, and not even all of those who start training go on to complete it – and those are the self-selected people who think they have a shot. The same is true for public speaking. The number of people who want to be professional public speakers is far higher than the number of people that are actually able to pull it off.

4. You have to put your passengers first

provide some value to your listeners

When you’re a pilot, you need to remember that you’re providing a service to your passengers. Your mission is to take them from point A to point B as safely and as smoothly as possible, not to show off by trying to pull tricks in a 747. The same is true of public speakers. As tempting as it is to be self-indulgent and to try to make your talks all about you, you have to remember that you’re there to provide some value to your listeners. They’re the passengers that you’re taking on a journey.

5. You need to remember your safety announcements

Every time we fly, we hear a ton of safety announcements covering everything from how to access oxygen masks to where the emergency exits are. True, a lot of people ignore them, but the flight crew is duty-bound to share those announcements regardless. The same is true for public speakers. We don’t need to make announcements about safety, but we do need to remember to cover all of the essential information that people need to know, such as where they can access our slides and whether or not we’ll be sticking around to answer questions at the end.

6. Your reputation matters

No airline wants to hire a pilot who has a reputation for showing up late or for drinking before a flight. Likewise, no event wants to hire a public speaker who has a reputation for boring their audience to tears. Reputation matters in every field, but it’s particularly important for public speakers, and so the lesson here is to spend some time making sure that public perception of you lines up with the speaker that you want to be.

7. You need to know the destination

what message you’re planning on sharing

You can’t pilot a plane if you don’t know where you’re going, and you can’t deliver a presentation if you don’t know what message you’re planning on sharing. Pilots and public speakers alike need to be goal-oriented and to make sure that they’re taking the fastest and most direct route possible to their destination so that their passengers don’t become disgruntled along the way.

8. You need to know how to handle disasters

A pilot doesn’t wait until they have an engine failure to learn how to fly with only one engine. Likewise, good public speakers know that something’s bound to go wrong eventually, and so they prepare themselves for it and ensure that they have a plan in place to deal with it. This may mean having a backup presentation that you can deliver off the cuff if your slides don’t work or giving yourself a ready-made response for when someone asks a question that you don’t know the answer to.

9. It can take you around the world

One of the main attractions that encourages people to undergo the years of training it takes to become a qualified pilot is the fact that it can provide you with opportunities to travel the world. The same is true when you’re a public speaker, especially if you spend some time developing your personal brand and becoming the go-to expert in your field. Before you know it, you’ll be inundated with public speaking requests, and you’ll be able to pick and choose where you want to go and what you want to talk about.

10. You have to stick the landing

stick the landing

Every good public speaker knows that if you want people to remember your message, you need to stick the landing. Even if the entirety of your presentation goes well and you’re feeling great about it, if you fluff the ending, all of that hard work goes down the pan. You can cruise through the majority of your presentation on autopilot if you want to, but you must land the plane safely.


Now that you know our thoughts on why public speaking is like flying a plane, we want to hear from you. Do you agree with our comparisons or do you think that we’ve got it all wrong? And is there anything that you think we should add to the list?

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to let us know in the comments. You can also follow us on your favorite social networking sites for more. We’ll see you soon for another article!


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