How do people become great speakers?

Communication is not a gift we are born with.

It is a SKILL that can be learned and practiced.

Some are better communicators than others. 

While listening to people telling a story or giving a formal presentation, you can quickly ascertain if they are a skilled communicator. There is something about their confidence and presence. The way they stand, gesture, use facial expressions that match the content. What if I told you those skills are not innate but LEARNED? But how do people learn these skills? I can think of four ways:

  1. Some exceptional speakers, like my dad, learned from observation. He grew up listening and watching his own father tell stories at the dinner table and picked up those engaging techniques without even knowing it. Like he was born to stand in on a stage, my dad weaves humor into stories that always seem to sneak in a life lesson. And I certainly can recall my Grandpa Nonn commanding the room with a smile and a narrative tale.
  1. Others learn from experience. Trial and error.  And error. And error. I am impressed by these speakers. They learn from mistakes made or by feedback given by others (IF others provide honest feedback.) It’s not  easy to say to someone, “I enjoyed your presentation at the meeting, but I think you spoke a little too quickly so it was hard to follow.” That takes guts and most people either do not feel qualified makinging those comments or feel too nervous to make such a recommendation. So, people either don’t learn, or figure out by people’s confused facial expressions that they need to change their communication style. 
  1. The third way people  become outstanding communicators is by reading “How to Be a Strong Speaker” books, taking courses, or watching YouTube videos. There are a ton of resources out there. Whole sections of libraries/bookstores are dedicated to communication.  Some of the information is great, but finding the right materials  can be a daunting and time consuming task. This pathway also lacks the feedback from others on which specific skills you need to practice and which strategies are most effective.
  1. The fourth and possibly the most productive way to become a polished speaker is to  contact a professional and ask for specialized instruction. Trained coaches can:
  1. listen to your speech and watch how you talk/present 
  2. give individualized feedback (“Sam, when you speak I have a tough time understanding . . .”) and create communication goals  
  3. provide proven strategies on how to learn & use specific speaking/listening skills in order to become an outstanding communicator 

Of course, being a Speech Coach, I encourage you to explore option four. 🙂 

And being a Speech-Language Pathologist, I firmly believe Outstanding Communication skills should be accessible to everyone. So, STOP and become AWARE of your communication. Realize that everyone can improve their communication – with colleagues, friends, and family!  No one is BORN a SUPERSTAR communicator. Reach out and schedule a consultation with me. I can help!

Jennifer Nonn-Murphy, M.S, CCC-SLP​

Jennifer grew up in the Bay Area of California and received an undergraduate degree in Communications from Saint Mary’s College of California (Go Gaels)!   

After completing her Masters Degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from California State East Bay, she decided to move back to her hometown and start a career as a speech-language therapist.  She worked at a local school district and speech clinic before opening a private practice in 2011.   

I am the owner and instructor of Clear & Confident Speech Coaching.