Reading this post, will not make you a better speaker. There, I said it.

I’m constantly amazed as I peruse twitter and other social networks, by the number of articles claiming to have the secret to being an effective public speaker. Some are very well written, all are very well meaning, but none of them will make you a better speaker either.

The reason that this post, or any of the thousands published every day, are unable to transform anyone into a great speaker, is that reading alone is insufficient. No one ever learned to ride a bicycle by reading about it and no one has become a great speaker that way either. It takes practice.

While this might seem like a rant against all of these articles, it really isn’t. I read several every day because I’m always looking to sharpen my skills as a communicator. I enjoy reading new perspectives and if I can learn something, great! But these articles will only help me if I put the principles to practice. Words must actually pass my lips, not just my eyes in order to make them effective.

Having had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of leaders looking to improve their communication skills, I’ve seen more than one that watches the videos and reads the books, but is afraid to take the front of the room. Unfortunately for them, that’s where the growth lies. When they do step up and actually speak, they become not only more confident speakers but more confident people as well.

The hard truth is that if reading blogs, books and articles could make us better speakers, we would all be ready for TED. If we could improve just by watching TED every day, there wouldn’t be so many boring meetings led by uninspired speakers. If it were that easy, everyone would be great, but it’s not and most aren’t.

People who are afraid to speak are people who haven’t properly practiced and prepared. We don’t walk out of the womb looking for a microphone, it’s a learned skill that comes from doing, not reading.

If you’re serious about becoming a better communicator, get in the front of the room. Join toastmasters, get a coach, stand up and speak. The only way to improve is to put in the work and speak. There are no shortcuts. This post will not make you a better speaker. That’s up to you. Take the stage, and be great.

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