Great Communicators From Steve Jobs To TED Speakers Are Made, Not Born
First, the bad news. There are no shortcuts on the path to becoming an exceptional public-speaker.
Now, the good news. Anyone who puts in the work can radically improve their communication skills.
In the now famous TED Talk “My Stroke of Insight,” Harvard researcher Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor takes her audience on an 18-minute journey of her life before, during and after a stroke. It’s a mesmerizing performance and, like any good performer, BolteTaylor practiced endlessly for the talk of her life. When I asked Bolte-Taylor how much time she had practiced, her answer surprised me. She rehearsed her presentation not once, twice or even 20 times. She rehearsed it 200 times! Inspiring presentations take practice—hours and hours of it.
Recently I wrote an article based on an interview with the world-famous pastor Joel Osteen. Osteen told me that he rehearses each sermon for 6 hours before delivering it for the first time on Saturday nights. He then delivers it twice on Sunday. It’s the third sermon that’s recorded for the television audience, but Osteen has already rehearsed the sermon at least 12 times. Viewers see a polished performance; they don’t see the hours of practice that made it so. From CEOs to pastors, and from TED speakers to famous leaders, great communicators are made, not born. We see this trend in America’s most famous speeches. For example, in 1964 Ronald Reagan gave a rousing speech to support then Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. Goldwater lost the election, but voters were inspired by Reagan, who went on to become California’s governor and the 40th president