Gary Genard's

Speak for Success!

"Be a voice not an echo." - Albert Einstein

7 Ways to Be a More Exciting Public Speaker

Wondering how you can become a more dynamic and exciting public speaker? Here are 7 ways to get there!

In last week’s blog, I discussed 10 items you can use to take your speeches and presentations to the next level. I called that blog A Peek Inside My Public Speaking Toolbox.

This week, I’d like to suggest some practices or actions you can add to that list. I’m also including some web sites to visit, and suggestions for a library of essential books you can begin to build. 

Great speakers don't just speak—they perform. To learn how to join their ranks, download my free Insights article, "6 Rules of Effective Public Speaking." Discover how to engage and move audiences like you've never done before!

You’ll notice that there aren’t any sites concerned with advocating particular public speaking skills here. That’s because I think that those sites—the ones that include hints, lists, and articles on public speaking—are personal in terms of their perceived value. You may love some of them and dislike others; and the next person may think the opposite. So by all means, visit the sites that you find worthwhile.

So below, some highly worthwhile activities for boosting your public speaking powers and prowess.

Actions for Your Public Speaking Toolbox

1. Sign up for TED emails. Go to and click on the “Sign up” link in the upper right corner of the home page. This is where you’ll find thought leaders from around the world talking about their work. Some are excellent speakers and some are mediocre speakers. But at the least, you’ll have the opportunity to listen to stimulating topics that aren’t only from the world of business.

2. Join Toastmasters. This suggestion falls into the “if it’s for you” category. Toastmasters International is a club of people sincerely interested in improving their public speaking skills. You’ll find peer support, and importantly, the opportunity to speak in public frequently. That will help polish your skills, and also contribute to reducing your anxiety over the “unknowns” of public speaking.

3. Visit 33 Voices. If podcasts are part of your listening repertoire (and they should be), take a look at this excellent site hosted by Moe Abdou. You’ll find stimulating ideas from conversations with interesting people “about things that matter in business and in life.” Here’s my conversation with Moe about my latest book Fearless Speaking.

4. Get your friends and colleagues into the act. They’re the perfect audience for your practice sessions and to bounce off ideas about talks you’re developing. If they’re in short supply, consider a companion animal. But we warned: They’re a tough audience and you’ll have to work hard to keep their attention!

5. Listen to audio books. My voice and speech clients often ask me what they can listen to for developing greater vocal expressiveness. My answer is: audio books. Voice actors are your best resource to understand and practice vocal excellence. Many of them are highly skilled practitioners. You have thousands of choices, and I’ll mention just one: “Basil Rathbone Reads Edgar Allan Poe, Vols. 1 and 2” (Caedmon Records, 1960). Be prepared for shivers up your spine, not only by Poe’s tales of the macabre but also by a past master at using the speaking voice to its full potential.

6. Become familiar with quotation web sites. Quotation sites such as and will place the world’s greatest thinkers at your disposal. Use them to employ that apt quote that will bring more flavor and insight to your topic.

7. Build a public speaking library. Here’s a baker’s dozen of books that will give you a leg up on the speaking competition, whatever your topic. They’re listed in alphabetical order by title. Click on the links to find them online.

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Little, Brown, 1980 (the edition I prefer). The famous compendium of history’s greatest quotations.

Fearless Speaking, by Gary Genard. Cedar & Maitland Press, 2014. Strategies, tools, and tactics for overcoming fear of public speaking. With 50 hands-on exercises.

How to Give a Speech: Easy-to-Learn Skills for More Successful & Profitable Presentations, Speeches, Meetings, Sales, and More! by Gary Genard. Cedar & Maitland Press, 2007.  75 “quick tips” for succeeding at all types of oral communication.

Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, William Safire, ed.  Norton, 2004. A compilation of great speeches throughout history, selected by a language maven and former presidential speechwriter, and including invaluable commentary.

On Speaking Well, by Peggy Noonan. William Morrow, 1999. Another former presidential speechwriter discusses making your speeches come alive in the hearts and minds of your listeners.

Playing Shakespeare, by John Barton. Anchor, 2001. Case studies of actors in action, wrestling with the language and characterizations of the world’s greatest dramatist. If you’re serious about understanding how language works in performance, take a look!

Talk like TED, by Carmine Gallo. St. Martin’s, 2015. Advice on creating and delivering dynamic presentations, as viewed through the prism of the most popular TED talks.

The Actor and the Text, by Cicely Berry. Applause, 2000. Making text come alive through vocal delivery. Written for actors but of value to speakers of every type.

The Lost Art of the Great Speech, by Richard Dowis. Amacom, 2000. Advice from a corporate speechwriter on giving “powerful, on-target speeches that capture an audience's attention and drive home a message.”

The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interviewby Brad Phillips. SpeakGood, 2012. Practical advice from "Mr. Media Training" on succeeding in your next encounter with the media.

Voice and Articulation, by Kenneth Crannell. Wadsworth, 2011. The art of voice production and speech improvement, by a former professor at Emerson College in Boston.

Voice and the Actor, by Cicely Berry. Wiley, 1991. Essential information of how the voice functions in spoken performance, written by the speech coach of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

You Are the Message, by Roger Ailes. Doubleday, 1988. Advice on why you as speaker matter as much as the message you’re delivering.

I’ll mention three of these books again in next week’s blog, when I’ll discuss “6 Ways to Nail Your Next Business Presentation.”

See you then!

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