If you’d like to substantially boost your value as a business professional in 2014, billionaire Warren Buffett has some advice: master the art of public speaking. Buffett once told a class of business students that he would pay anyone in the room $100,000 for 10 percent of their future earnings. If they were good communicators, he would raise his bid by 50 percent because public speaking would make his ‘investment’ more valuable.
I thought of the Buffett story over the holidays during a conversation with a recent college graduate. Although he graduated from a highly regarded university in his state, it doesn’t have the name Harvard or Yale. He also didn’t get the memo that it’s hard for young people to find jobs. He landed a good position on his third interview. He credits good communication skills for his success, much of which he learned by reading this column. He studied the company’s products and developed his own “elevator pitch.” The pitch was so compelling that his new boss even asked him to record it so the company could show it to their salespeople. It’s no surprise that they hired him.
While I hope regular readers of my column will find valuable tips and strategies to improve all forms of business communication, there are some other resources that will help you improve your ability to speak, pitch, present, and to communicate your ideas persuasively. Here are a few.
Slideshare. This site is the largest community for sharing presentations. The quality of the some of the best designs is stunning and will completely change the way you look at PowerPoint. While anyone can upload and share a presentation, the site’s homepage highlights some of the best examples in its daily picks. For example, design firm Empowered Presentations uploaded this presentation to Slideshare over the holidays. In a clever twist to the “12 Days of Christmas,” it created the “12 Days of PowerPoint” to highlight all of the wrong ways people use it. Different fonts, color themes, bullet points, and tacky word art are just some of the problems you’ll see.
Books by Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds. I know both designers very well and I enthusiastically recommend their books. Nancy’s books Slideology and Resonate and Reynolds Presentation Zen are both design books I keep on my own bookshelf for inspiration.
TED.com. Speaking of Garr Reynolds, he delivered what I consider one of the most impressive presentations on presentation design. This presentation that Reynolds gave at TEDx Kyoto is funny, informative, and visually intriguing. It might inspire you to think differently about your own presentations.
TED Talks are everywhere. They can be seen on Netflix, airplanes, television, and TED.com. The national TED conference and its smaller sister events (TEDx), bring together some of the brightest people in the world to speak on a variety of topics. You might have seen a TED talk and there’s a good chance that people in your audience have, too. That means, like it or not, your presentation is being compared to TED. TED talks feature speakers who have mastered the art of storytelling and tell those stories with commanding body language, humor, and visually appealing slides. Since TED talks are only 18 minutes in length, it’s time well spent if you want to improve your public speaking skills.
As the economy continues to improve you will find more opportunities to land a new job or a new business account. You will need to be persuasive. Master public-speaking and communication skills to get it done.
Carmine Gallo is the communication coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is a popular keynote speaker and author of several books, including the international bestsellers The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Carmine’s upcoming book, Talk Like TED, reveals the 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds. Sign up for Carmine’s newsletter and follow him on Facebook or Twitter.