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How to become a better public speaker: I've given 100+ keynotes (mostly about my book, Atomic Habits). I'm still not particularly amazing, but I've definitely improved. And the #1 thing I did to get better was surprising and totally by accident. Here's what happened...
First lesson: People love good storytellers. I was never a great storyteller, but I have friends who are. You probably do too. As soon they start talking, everyone is captivated or cracking up. They have your full attention. Complete engagement. It's what every speaker wants.
Second lesson: The first thing you need if you want to be a good storyteller (and, by extension, a better public speaker) is good stories! Seems obvious, but most people don't have tons of good stories. And they certainly can't generate them off-the-cuff. At least, I couldn't.
The happy accident that changed things for me was writing every week. In my case, I wrote 2 articles per week for about 3 years. And guess what? Most of my articles started with a story.
I wrote about samurai archers - https://jamesclear.com/zanshin And heroic scientists - https://jamesclear.com/luck-vs-hard-work And productivity consultants - https://jamesclear.com/ivy-lee And a bunch more. And a funny thing happened...
Suddenly, I had a bunch of cool stories sitting around in my head. I knew them pretty well because I had spent hours reading the details of each story and writing it out in my own words. Now, these stories were "at the ready" and I could use them in conversation.
Today, before I'm about to do a podcast interview or a live event, I scroll through any articles related to what I'm talking about. The headlines are usually enough to spark my memory of a few stories. When the presentation starts, I can drop a story in whenever relevant.
It makes me look much smarter than I am. It seems like I can pull out an interesting story to make a point or answer a question. And nearly any point you want to make will come alive with the right story. But it's only because I wrote about it in detail previously.
Another thing I noticed is that stories help people remember what matters. Facts and numbers are boring. And, sadly, most people forget your important insights as soon as the talk ends. But stories? People remember stories. And that helps them remember the main point too.
So that's my best public speaking tip. If you want to be a better speaker, become a better storyteller. If you want to be a better storyteller, write about great stories. Finally, review what you wrote, so you're ready to use the stories in conversation when relevant.
Also, I share my writing in a short, free newsletter each week. I try to make each one useful. Over 1 million people subscribe. If interested, you can sign up here: https://jamesclear.com/3-2-1

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