So You Wanna Be A Speaker

(UPDATE – Here is a great VIDEO of Bryan Flanagan who wrote this post)

One of the most common questions I get on the blog is “how do I give an effective speech?”  Another common question is “how do I get paid for that speech?!”  Good news!  Below is a great article from Bryan Flanagan with some speaking tips.

Tips on Public Speaking

According to that great medical journal (The Readers Digest!), speaking in front of a group of people is still the number one fear in American today!  The following three suggestions may help you deal with that fear.  These will assist you when speaking to 2 or 20 or 200!

1.    Preparation compensates for a lack of talent!  Prepare the talk in advance.  Organize your visuals, handouts, props, and material.  Practice and rehearse not only the content but also the delivery.  Analyze the audience by asking yourself these questions: In what are the attendees interested?  What is important to them?  How do they want to feel or think at the end of my presentation?

2.    Your “first burst” is important!  You should practice, rehearse, memorize, and/or choreograph your “first burst.”  This is your opening sentence or paragraph.  The purpose of the “first burst” is to grab the attention AND the interest of your audience.  Using hilarious humor, quotable quotes, startling statistics, topical stories, and/or a focusing question can accomplish this.  Use your imagination when creating your “first burst.”

3.    Your audience is more forgiving than you are!  Loosen up, lighten up, have fun when making a presentation.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  The audience is not expecting perfection and neither should you!  Remember: angels fly because they take themselves lightly.

One other thing: when in doubt, just get in front of the audience and let ‘er rip.  The following poem summarizes this point.  It seems a 17 year old boy was debating whether to kiss his girlfriend or not.  So, he dropped to his knees and prayed:  “Lord, Lord up above, should I kiss the girl that I love?’  A voice come back saying, “Sinner, sinner down below, pucker up and let ‘er go!”

When in front of an audience, remember to “just pucker up and let ‘er go!”

About Bryan “Coach” Flanagan.  Bryan has been a part of the Ziglar team for over 25 years.  Mentored by Dad, he is a mentor to me, and to everyone on our team.  If Bryan does it, it’s just GOOD!  If you ever thought about being a speaker, this class is a great place for you to start.  Have Darren send you the details, and if you ask, I bet “Coach” will give you a call.

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20 Comments on “So You Wanna Be A Speaker”

  1. Marc Hrisko Says:

    Boy oh boy do I agree with the notion that neophyte speakers need to get up and just “let ‘er rip!” That’s so true. After my events my audience members ask me the same thing, “Marc, how can I break into big time speaking and gain confidence.” And that Zig philosophy of “taking action” and sometimes having to just jump and “let ‘er rip” is spot on. We learn and grow by doing. So for all you newbie speakers out there, do as Zig would advise and “let ‘er rip!”

    Best wishes,


    Marc Hrisko International

  2. Lovric Says:

    Yes I do!

    I am just starting and Zig is my great inspiration, I want to be as great as he is, not because of an ego but because of his great message he is promoting. Thank you Zig for ‘Spritual Journey’! I only wish I can give such gift to as many you have.
    Sorry Bryan, I am getting on about Zig, your article is fantastic, so thank you!

    ivan lovric

  3. Scott Hodges Says:

    Please send me the info on the class that you will be holding in June. Thanks, SH

  4. Mark Waddington Says:

    These are three great points on speaking in public! I just wanted to make your first point even clearer. When you said, “rehearse not only the content but also the delivery”, it means read or rehearse your speech “out loud” so you can practice the proper inflections, pauses, tone of voice, etc. It does no good to practice by reading or speaking silently. You must practice “out loud”. I know that is what you meant, but to a new speaker, that may not have been clear. As always, Bryan, you are right on the money with your coaching and teaching.

  5. Not to take away from what Tom suggested and what Bryan is going to offer in his June, one should also consider joining a local Toastmasters club to continue practising your speaking skills. Its not enough to learn and acquire the speaking skills, you have to keep practising with a friendly group of people. Toastmasters will help you, it surely helped me. I have seen many speakers graduate from their Communication and Leadership program walking away with great confidence. Give it a try.

    You can find a local club in your city at


  6. Tom Jackson Says:

    One I retire I will be going into Public Speaking. My
    main message will be on Family Values. Any advice
    given will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks !

  7. Rod Landrum Says:


    Please share this with your dad. Zig will recognize my name.

    Your tips on public speaking are great…..for me, I have one tip that always works and never fails me…..I have a special short little prayer that I say before any type of presenation. It works everytime if I say the prayer in addition to the many other tips I have learned over the years!

    Make it a great day,


  8. Nancy Luther Says:

    Hi Tom.

    I am not asking for anything, but thanking you, and your team for providing the general public, the ability to access positive Ziglar guidelines, direction, and resources, via the Ziglar Newletter, Website, etc.

    Personally,I am looking into switching /vocations/professions, full circle, from Social Services to “Back to the Classroom” teaching. I have 20+ years in the field and classrom, advocating for people with special needs.

    I am reading “up” on my Ziglar books and quotes to put me in the right mind frame for the infamous interview! I do want to be successful at my calling.

    Folks like me, (mid-life baby boomers 50’s), need to “Read”, “Comprehend”, and “Practice”, before we actually sell the product, ourselves. We are still a group that is in the “running for competitive employment”

    This “Speech Article”, I found very helpful for what I am planning for my future.”

    Perhaps you could market a Pre-Course to help those of us in need of a “brush up” in all of the above? There are many people between jobs and unemployed, whom I am sure would pay for Ziglar words of wisdom & advise, that are not subsribers to your newsletter, access to WEB etc.
    this pre-baby boomer group is HUGE and really not perceived. I am sure Agencies, both For Profit and Non Profit have many people that would benefit from this, and help to launch our economic situation with positive perspective. Perhaps there is a government incentive that would pay for this training?

    Thank you for providing and sharing the tools needed for myself, to go forward with a positive “can do attitude”, new vocational/professional calling, accept God’s plan, and move forward with grace and confidence.

    Keep up the great work – we are listening (even for those of us not in Coorporate America), but working for small non-profits, educators, home-makers, and folks just wanting to lead a quality, Christian Life.

    I appreciate your communication on the WEB site as a place to access resources. (I still do not have an I Phone) Yes, I have a Blackberry, but am still learning technology for today. I am a CD person. Why not boost those sales for those of us tech-challenged?

    Thanks for all you do for the betterment of souls and society.

    Nancy Luther (Proud Mother of Phil)

    • Tom Ziglar Says:


      You have many great ideas here! I agree that there are millions of people in the category you describe – not real comfortable with technology and having to make a transition in their life where how they present themselves will have a huge impact. Dad talks a great deal about the Be, Do, Have philosophy. You have to Be the right kind of person first, then Do the right things, before you can Have the good things in life. Presentation skills are very critical to Be, Do, Have, for two reasons. First, before you present you have to have the discipline and dedication to prepare exactly the right things to say. Second, you have to have the confidence and courage to say them! Being effective in these two things will let you Be, Do, and Have more!

      Currently we are using the internet to reach a wider audience and we plan on doing more “old school” face to face courses to help people learn just like you suggested.

      You should be proud of Phil! Our website and the new Ziglar Success 2.0 are looking and working great because of his expertise. WE are lucky to have Phil on the Ziglar team!

      Thanks for taking the time to write!

      Tom Ziglar
      Proud to be working with Phil!

  9. Wendy Says:

    I would like to receive information about the class.
    Thank you

  10. Mark Cotter Says:

    A Great article and wonderful advice. I have enjoyed your talks and lessons often. I speak both for teaching sometimes and to large groups and when you are up there murphys law really kicks in! So practice and knowing what you are saying, why you are there, and how you want to come across really makes all the difference. Funny how after you start it seems to flow better than you imagined.
    Thanks for the tips Bryan!

    Have a great time – Enjoy!

  11. Norm Coleman Says:

    Know and believe in your subject and trust yourself after
    much rehearsal…yes…out loud is best. I found a tape
    recorder helped me to memorize 90 minutes of my “act”
    If using props, rehearse, know where everything is and if
    you fumble, keep on keeping on. The best infielders sometimes make errors. Some humor always helps. Make sure
    your facts are 100% accurate. I use music with my show.
    My assistant and I practice, practice, practice. We never miss a cue. Oh yes, have fun. And smile!

  12. Anjan Sen Says:

    it was indeed a great piece to read and one thing is for sure that the points stated here can be used not only for public speaking but also in your personal life.

    great work ziglar corporation

    bye and keep goin.

    Anjan Sen

  13. mutua mbondo Says:

    that’s a good read and I loved it !

  14. Juliet Says:

    excellent article, however, i would still like a couple of tips on how to get paid. i would really love to speak for free to inspire people, however, the reality is that will have to be for future talks. any advice pls and love to the Ziglar family.

  15. Wonderful advice! Do you have other suggestions on how to get more speaking engagements?

  16. Eric Says:

    Thank you for the information. For some reason I am having difficulty sending an email to Can I request info about Bryan’s June speaking class here in lieu of an email? Thank you in advance.

  17. […] So You Wanna Be A Speaker One of the most common questions I get on the blog is “how do I give an effective speech?”  Another common […] […]

    • John gill Says:

      I have always wanted to be a motivational speaker. That is why I teach also at Champions School of real estate. I taught at Florida state, when I mastered the language and they gave mee the job.See attached web site fior full detais.


  18. Jonathan Says:

    Tom –

    The key, besides being of value to your listeners, is
    enthusiasm. And on being paid, when a Convention calls you and makes a deal, find out if they are making you Keynote Speaker before you close the deal.
    I didn’t and they did.

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