Public speaking for creatives

Like many people I’m not a confident public speaker. However, more and more I find myself being encouraged, urged, or straight up told that public speaking is important and that it is something I have to work on. I’ve been asked to speak at events but have always turned them down because it’s outside my comfort zone.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I went to a talk by creatives last night and I’m heading to 2-day conference tomorrow. Just to listen of course. I love it when other creatives share their story and even the ones that were obviously nervous as hell were interesting to listen to.

Do I need to just bite the bullet?

What is your experience with public speaking and what tips do you have for someone looking to step into it?


I was the Secretary on a board of directors for a year. I did plenty of public speaking. I wasn’t terrified of it … but, I hated it. I’m not that ''center of attention" type person. I don’t think I was all that great at it … but no one laughed unless they were supposed to … so that’s a good thing. Would I do it again? No. But, if I can do it … anyone can. Do I feel it’s a something everyone has to do? No.

I get tired of hearing “break out of your comfort zone” I fully get that we should all push ourselves from time to time. But, if this is something you absolutely don’t want to do and you aren’t at a job that is requiring you to do it … skip it.

That’s just the opinion of an old lady who is sick of catch phrases :smiley: LOL

  1. If you have something to say, that’ll make it easier.
  2. If you believe in what you’re going to say, now we’re talking.
  3. If you can find a humorous side to add to it, and you yourself are of that persuasion, you’ve got it made.

Am I a public speaker, or have I done it before? Nope.

I do a little bit of public speaking. The more you do it, the easier it gets. My best advice is to know what you’re going to say. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it works. The times I’m most comfortable are when I know dead on what I’m going to say or when I have no idea what to say. It’s being sort of prepared that gets me. Type it up ahead of time. Practice reading it out loud multiple times. You’ll hear the places where you might get tongue-tied. Make it note in those areas to help it sound more smooth. Make notes as to when you need to breath.

The other thing I’d say is that some of the best known designers today are the ones that speak at the conferences. I know this is sort of a which came first, the chicken or the egg thing. I’m talking about the contemporary designers. The ones you know of, like Aaron Draplin, are the ones that are speaking at conferences.

Do you have to speak publicly? No, I don’t think you have to, but it might be a strategic part in your career path. That’s up to you to decide.

George Burns is widely quoted for this

“Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Public speaking runs more or less along the same vein.

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Just remember that if you are being asked to speak, it’s because you already have the knowledge they want. So it’s all in your head anyway. Just be honest about what you know, caveat anything that you aren’t sure about, and don’t entertain questions concerning areas outside your professional expertise.

It is always better to say, let me get back to you, rather than to say 'I think… [enter brain fart here]" and be remembered as unreliable info. Or you can say “let’s talk about [whatever] in greater detail afterwards.”

Finally, you are not there to solve all their problems or even really to entertain. You are imparting the knowledge you already have.

Thanks guys. I’m definitely not doing any public speaking without prep. It terrifies me to come up with something to say on the spot. No thank you! Being organised would help my nerves. I’ll keep a lookout for situations where I get to prep ahead of time. Maybe something easy if it comes along. Having a format or a strong structure helps too.

Red, you’re right about the comfort zone thing. There’s somethings that should be pushed and some that can be left well alone.

Steve_O, that’s so true about the best known designers are the ones that speak. That’s how it is in my city and the conference I’m going to today is international. I’m sure that sharing with your community brings in more work. Not any work either but what you speak about brings can bring in more of the types of work you want to do or the types of clients that you want.

Anyway, I’m just about to head into the conference so I’ll take notes on not only the content but the delivery.

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@Buda, look into Toastmasters. It’s a group that is built around being a better public speaker.

Funny you should ask.

Just today, I needed to give three separate eight- or nine-minute speeches to three different groups of 20-30 university professors. It was all basic stuff about various communication and marketing concepts, like identifying target audiences, digging beneath the obvious to find root problems rather than symptoms, strategic thinking, implementing strategies, evaluating results, etc. Tomorrow, I’ll need to make the same presentation to two more groups of them.

People tell me I do a good job, but I don’t know. I’m naturally introverted, and even though it’s gotten easier over time, the process leaves me totally drained and exhausted. Afterwards, I rode my motorcycle up to the ski resorts and back just to rejuvenate a bit. I still feel toasted.

I typically write out notes and refine them a day or two ahead of time, then practice making the presentation when nobody’s around and when there’s no anxiety getting in the way and making me forget things and stumble over words.

The actual talk is a bit like acting, I think. I try not to think of the audience and all the eyeballs staring at me. Instead and try to approach the whole thing like I’m just having a good time teaching our dog how to play fetch. I talk to our dog all the time. :grinning:

Watch a few TED talks. They make it look simple, but they practice for weeks in advance. How politicians do their whole campaigning thing, I’ll never know. I know I couldn’t do it.

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Talking to strangers today leaves me feeling pretty exhausted. Thankfully they’re all probably in the same boat. Another day of it tomorrow. I understand the idea of feeling toasted.

Just be confident and rock!

I found myself in the same situation, but got tired of it and wanted to move on. I I’m not as perfect as I want to be, but I can realize that I’m getting better at it gradually. Just have an idea of what you are going to talk about and be confident enough. Good luck

You can join Toastmasters to improve your public speaking skills. Public speaking makes you different from other creators. It helps you be an expert in your field. It is so important if you want to make something big.

So if I want to be a master safecracker, I should join Toasters?

No, I didn’t mean that Toastmasters makes you an expert in your niche. But if you are an expert and can not explain that knowledge to other people, it reduces your value. Public speaking helps you to share your idea with more and more people in a short time. If you do it one to one, it is going to cost you a lot of time. Of course, you can write a book to share your wisdom, if you don’t want to speak.

By the way this is funny lol :joy:
You have a great sense of humour.

Thanks. I am going to take that as a compliment.

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