Gary Rogers: Mastering Public Speaking Through Training and Self Reflection

Learn how Gary Rogers helps managers hone in on their public speaking skills and how to overcome the #1 fear in the world.

Projection, inflection, and enthusiasm are three characteristics that Gary believes are key amongst charismatic public speakers. Starting out in production and broadcasting, Gary has grown to become America’s leading public speaking skills coach.

According to Stanford University, the number one predictor of professional success is the ability to speak well. Listen to this episode (or read the transcript below) to learn how to become an excellent public speaker from Gary, a leading expert. 

1 You’re America’s leading public speaking skills coach, how did you get into this?

I started 15 years ago. I started as a salesman, and then they made me a sales trainer, and eventually a training manager. In the course of my management career, they taught us public speaking skills and part of our training curriculum was teaching corporate managers all over the country. I got so excited about public speaking that I left the WM company and built my own television production company. I spent 35 years in the television production motion picture industry. 

2 What are some common challenges that you noticed companies had when it came to communication? 

Essentially a common problem was that those presenting via video communication weren’t equipped with the tools needed to improve. I approached my manager and said we’re trying to teach managers public speaking presentation skills, a picture’s worth 1000 words, why don’t we record their presentations and show it to them as soon as they’ve finished? Let them see the mistakes they’re making. We went out and bought some equipment, put a monitor in our conference room along with a camera, and recorded their presentations. As soon as they saw themselves they couldn’t believe what they were doing and they immediately started to make corrections. We didn’t have to tell them the mistakes they were making because they could see them themselves and it was at that moment that I fell in love with video. 

3 Why do you think that people have a fear of public speaking? 

It’s the number one human fear that most human beings have. Between 75% to 95% of the entire world population is scared to death of public speaking. Why do people get so frightened? I think because they know that as soon as they get in front of somebody else, they’re being judged. All eyes are on them. They want to do good, they want to do well, they want to look good, and they’re scared to make a mistake. 

This level of fear can kill corporate careers. Managers excel because they stand out and one of the best ways to stand out is through public speaking. AT&T and Stanford came out with a study that said that the number one predictor of professional success is the ability to speak well. So many additional statistics say that 60% of people get turned down for a job because they can’t speak well. Time magazine came out with a study showing that 90% of all five Fortune 500 companies require good public speakers to achieve success.

4 How can people proactively get rid of fear?

Learn some public speaking and presentation skills. And most of all, practice, practice, practice. If you’re going to get up in front of an audience for a formal speech, you need to put that speech together very well and then you need to be prepared and the only way you can do that is by practicing. The greatest fear comes from getting up in front of a crowd and trying to wing it. You need to know what you’re talking about otherwise you’re bound to make mistakes. Know your audience, know your subject, and practice. 

5 What is projection in terms of public speaking? 

Projection is the total quality of your voice. Don’t go overboard, but crank up the volume. Inflection is changing the words to emphasize a point. When I do that, I use my hands, I’m using some gestures, and it comes almost automatically. Enthusiasm is something that anybody can use in conjunction with projection, and tonal quality. If you’re in front of a group, you’ve got to employ those skills, otherwise, you’re going to lose them.

6 How do you employ and practice inflection? 

Parents do this all the time with their kids. If they’re disciplining their kid, they’re going to use projection, inflection, and enthusiasm in a different way. Sometimes you have to use those tonal qualities to emphasize the point you’re trying to get across and most people automatically do it without even thinking about it but then when they get up in front of an audience, they lose it. 

7 Is memorizing a speech an effective approach to public speaking? 

Yes, sometimes you should memorize, like when you’re perfecting an elevator speech. If somebody asked you to take one minute and tell them about your business, your company or your service, you should have the entire pitch in your mind and you should be able to recite it backward and forwards but memorizing is difficult and you’re going to make a mistake or many mistakes. If it’s a five or a 10-minute talk you’re not going to say every word perfectly, but memorizing little bits is still important so you can get your point across without floundering. 

8 What are things that you’ve learned throughout your career that you would say you’re very good at? 

Believe it or not, I was very shy as a kid and I still am. Public speaking didn’t come naturally but it’s something I perfected over years of practice and skill-building. The more you do it, the better you become like anything that you do in life. Public speaking is just a skill that you have to perfect with training. You need to know the skills that need to be taught to you and then you need to work on them. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.


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