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How Warren Buffett Conquered His Fear of Public Speaking

Communication expert Carmine Gallo has 3 proven and effective ways by which billionaire Warren Buffett conquered his "terrifying" fear of public speaking - and how you can, too!

By
Carmine Gallo,
Episode #217

 

  • I’m terrible at giving presentations.
  • I got nervous once and it ruined me. I’m a horrible public speaker.
  • Nobody wants to listen to me. I’m boring.

If these are the types of phrases you repeat to yourself day after day, it’s no wonder you get nervous! You can’t control what other people say about you, but you can control the things you tell yourself. Too many of us play negative recordings about ourselves all day long: You’re not good enough. You don’t have what it takes. You’ll never be a good speaker. Osteen’s confidence grew as he replaced those negative labels with words of encouragement, empowerment, and strength. “Wrong labels can keep you from your destiny,” he says.

Tip #3: Do What You Fear – a Lot!

Buffett taught investment principles to students twice his age. He did it to force himself to stand up and talk to people. Buffett improved his public speaking skills over time because he practiced over and over again.

Professional golfers get nervous standing over a 3-foot putt to win the tournament. They’ve managed to control their nerves, however, because they’ve practiced the shot thousands of times. They rely on muscle memory to help them manage their nerves (again, not to eliminate those nerves completely). It’s the same with public speaking. The more you speak, the more comfortable you’ll be. If you only give one presentation every six months, of course you’ll be nervous. It feels unnatural because you don’t do it that often.

For Warren Buffett, enrolling in a public speaking course was a good first step to building his confidence. But the key, he said, was signing up to teach a night course at the University of Nebraska—Omaha. Buffett taught investment principles to students twice his age. He did it to force himself to stand up and talk to people. Buffett improved his public speaking skills over time because he practiced over and over again.

I recently gave the same presentation skills workshop four times in one day. It was part of a day-long sales meeting for a well-known Internet brand. Eighty salespeople rotated among several workshops that accommodated twenty people in each session, so I had to repeat the exact same material four times. I spoke for a total of six hours over the course of the day. Even though I had internalized my material very well—I had practiced and rehearsed my presentations many times—my last session was my best by far, even though was I exhausted. It was smooth, effortless, crisp, and clear. I also felt more confident than I had at the beginning of the day because I had already done it three times.

You’re only as successful as your ideas. Neuroscientist Gregory Berns at Emory University said, “You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but if you can’t convince enough other people, it doesn’t matter.” Think about it.  Landing a dream job, persuading investors, inspiring employees, and attracting customers all require the effective transmission of those ideas. Don’t let your nerves get in the way of achieving your full potential. More importantly, if you recognize that your nerves are a problem, take bold steps today to bring them under control so they enhance—and not harm—your career.

A former news anchor and correspondent for CNN and CBS, Carmine Gallo works directly with the world’s top business leaders to help them craft compelling messages. Gallo is a contributor to Forbes.com and author of several bestselling and award-winning books including "The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs" and "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs." Gallo has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Success Magazine, and on CNBC. He graduated with honors from UCLA and has a Master’s Degree from the Medill School of Journalism. His latest book, "Talk Like Ted," will release in March 2014.

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About the Author

Carmine Gallo The Public Speaker
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