Seven Leadership Tips from a Public Speaking Champion

Craig Valentine

Craig Valentine

What does it take to get remarkable results in leadership and life? Craig Valentine has a pretty good handle on this question.

Craig won the world championship of public speaking for Toastmasters International in 1999. Before becoming a full-time professional speaker and executive speech coach, he had a successful sales career with Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. He’s also an author whose books include The Nuts & Bolts of Public Speaking.

He’s come a long way. At age ten, Craig had a pronounced lisp. One day, a friend’s father told him, “Every time you talk you remind me of Daffy Duck.” That remark crushed young Craig–and changed the direction of his life.

Several years later, he walked into a bookstore and happened to come across Les Brown’s Live Your Dreams. After he paid for the book, the cashier said to him, “Good luck living your dreams.”

Craig shared these stories when he spoke this month at a Toastmasters’ conference near Washington, D.C. Here are seven takeaways from his talk:

1) Average people place blame. Successful people take responsibility. Avoid the tendency to point fingers at spouses or employees when something goes wrong.

2) You are always too something to someone. Some examples: You’re “too quiet” to be a leader, “too inexperienced’ to manage a department or “too old” to start a business. Be too good for it to matter.

3) Create a mess to create a message. You may have to sift through a huge pile of thoughts and wordy ideas before you find a message that’s succinct — and right. Aim for a crystal-clear foundational phrase that’s fewer than ten words.

4) Always state the result before the request. Figure out what your audience really wants and start from there.

5) Don’t get ready. Stay ready. You never know when an opportunity will come along.  Be prepared to seize it when it does.

6) Silence is the best tease. This is a good tidbit to remember for a business pitch. Use pauses to let your key ideas sink in and keep your audience hungry for your message.

7) Specifics stick. Avoid vagueness if you want to be memorable.

Good luck living your dreams.


About Lynne Strang

I'm a freelance writer who helps organizations and individuals meet their marketing and communications goals. I am also the author of "Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40." To learn more, please visit my website:
This entry was posted in Business, Career Changes, Careers, entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Retirement, Success and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Seven Leadership Tips from a Public Speaking Champion

  1. Great lessons they are!!

    • Lynne Strang says:

      Glad you like them. Speaking of lessons, I like the one you shared in your May 21st post. “Never think you are better than all others. There will always be something you can learn from other people.” Very true.

  2. Jamie Boudreaux says:

    I can honestly say I’ve been on the wrong side of pretty much each of these pointers, and have learned the hard way the costs involved. Since then, I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on to get into the proper mindset of a successful sale. All these points resonated with me and what I’ve learned.

    • Lynne Strang says:

      I see three good things here. One, you’ve learned from past mistakes. Two, you’re working on putting yourself in the right mindset. And three, you’re reading a lot (another thing that Craig Valentine recommends). Thanks for commenting.

  3. Reblogged this on Astridhapsariningrum's Blog and commented:
    Noted 🙂

  4. Glen Barling says:

    Reblogged this on GLEN MARK BARLING and commented:
    Very True List

  5. michelleg26 says:

    Great blog! It’s very motivating to new entrepreneurs to have some support to back the success. Keep at it and I’ll keep reading!

  6. Another Day says:

    Great inspiring points

  7. memanera says:

    I continue to follow my dreams but I keep running into a dead end. My head is filled with knowledge on so many subjects that I have to meditate to estract the noise from my world. Public speaking is not on that list, and although it is something that I will never do; I actually want to. That fact is I have a handicap. When I speak, it looks at though I am a ventriloquist. My lips don’t move when I speak most of the time, which can be very distracting if I were speaking in front of a crowd. I am going to have to make it a ritual to follow as many people as I can on a dailybasis if for no other reason than inspiration, and Craig Valentine’s story is truly inspirational to me…Thanks

    • Lynne Strang says:

      You’re welcome. If public speaking is something you want to do, I’d encourage you to check out Toastmasters. It’s a friendly organization that provides a supportive environment for people who are seeking to improve their communications skills. Toastmasters has clubs all over the world so there’s probably one that meets near where you live or work.

  8. memanera says:

    Thank you Lynne. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. That is something that I’ll be doing this summer, after I have completed some of the other things that I need to take care of. Sounds like an excellent idea.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s