Do You Have The Speaking Skills to Succeed?


I was in Portland last week and had a chance to hear former pastor, Jerry DeWitt, preach a non-religious message with amazing skill. Once you have world-class speaking skills, you can use them to deliver any message you wish. The question is, how good are your speaking skills? Are they good enough to go pro? Watch this short video I shot in Portland after Jerry’s speech and I’ll look forward to your comments.

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Categories : Speaking


  1. You know Steve, I sometimes tune into these if I have time and watch with keen interest your points of view, your perspectives and those of others who respond and I’m sometimes fascinated with what I observe. Frankly, I can see why those such as this former pastor are leaving “the church,” (which religion you don’t say) and I’m not at all surprised. Disenchantment with religion in general is a growing trend, and what I read in the Wall Street Journal backs that up as the number of agnostics grow in all demographics. It’s no wonder. But there are exceptions.

    That said, I can’t help but wonder what former athiests-turned-Christian such as prolific writers like C.S. Lewis would say if he were alive. Having been raised in a Christian-based home life (my non-religious parents shipped me off to the Baptist Bible school every summer as a child) later turned LDS, I found myself at one point at a crisis in my life questioning everything I’ve ever believed when I nearly lost my life. I set out to disprove belief in God, Christian Bible teaching as folklore and basically wanted to free myself from it. In my efforts to do so, I discovered irrefutable evidence I could never deny at any cost–that there are realities beyond the scope of our 5 senses that can only be experienced on a personal level that could never be disproved by any iconoclast. I had to learn what faith is not, before I could truly learn what faith is. Such unfortunate souls as Mr. DeWitt may not have had the occasion yet to experience what many on this planet had to find out the hard way. I found it serves little purpose to testify of those realities to those whose minds are sealed off and are made up however. Once the concrete is hardened, jack-hammer approaches to prove anything to them is senseless and avails little other than stalemate debates. From a critical thinking standpoint, the naysayer proves nothing in attempts claim certain things DON’T exist. You can never prove the taste of sugar or salt to another person.

    Having broken into the speaking market now and my humble beginnings as a fee paid speaker are beginning to grow, something you said about speaking caught my attention.

    You said the message is “second.” The delivery is “first.” I think this is one of many areas where your standards and ideals differ from mine. I watched a man who is a quadriplegic deliver a “less than ideal” performance in his speech from his wheelchair last week, but his message brought the house down. I’ll never forget him. His message had permanent impact. I am of the firm conviction that if our so-called speeches are all about a performance, with hollow gimmicks to rally attention for none other purpose than to “wow” the audience, what long lasting quality is there to warrant listening to him/her again if the content is adjunct to performance? What long lasting BENEFIT did Mr. DeWitt have on the lives of people who were in his audience other than for just the momentous few minutes of delivering just “entertainment?” I didn’t hear his message, but I got the impression from you he simply validates those jeering crowds who are caving in to the all too popular move to throw their ideals and principles in the trash for a delusional emancipation into some “better life.” Such tripe has always struck me as a cheap sell out. It requires no conviction. It does work to get attention, but their work is seldom timeless. As Patricia Fripp says, “We speak to be remembered and repeated.” I can’t imagine Mr. DeWitt had anything of value for long lasting formative principles that people will follow for lasting benefit.

    The most outstanding speakers I’ve ever heard, regardless of their performance factor, were those who had real substance to their message. Brian Tracy is not what I would call a great “deliverer,” but his message is powerful and I think he disproves your premise. Those who have the ability to edify, inspire, uplift AS WELL AS entertain seem to be the ones who have had the longest lasting legacies on the public and for greater good, irrespective of one’s religion. When it comes to religion, I defer to another form of logic: What are the results of it? If one’s religion produces the kind of person who is an honest, decent, loving, law-abiding, all-around good Joe/Jane to do business with, what harm is it? I muse at how critics of religious pursuits just can’t leave it alone and I’ve learned for myself that those who do are not secure enough in their own beliefs–they have to attack others who do. They can’t help themselves. Critical thinking, in my humble opinion, would be sound enough to stand on it’s own without having to tear something/someone else down. A wise man once said, “Those who know what’s going on, don’t talk about it. Those who don’t know what’s going on, never stop talking.”

    Summarily, I think if performance is top priority, then the message is at risk for what you have referred to as a “dog & pony show.” Bill Gove said the emphasis is on the PERSON, more than the message, and I’ve listened to his speech enough times to know that. Bill Gove was inspiring. In some ways, I doubt Bill would agree with you. As a business owner, I’ve learned that if there is no equal value to go along with delivery, you lose sales. I’ve tossed a lot of book CD’s in the trash of great performers in speaking who have little substance and I’ve walked out of a fair share of “dog & pony” shows.

    The heroes I admire most whose pictures hang on my office wall are most all from faiths different from mine and there is one agnostic. What they all have in common however, is the ability to inspire. If that can’t come first then performance is just an attention-getting hollow trick on the audience, and most critical thinking audience members for the most part, can see right through it.

  2. Matt Harmon says:

    I do not have the skills. I haven’t attended the Bill Gove Speech Workshop yet! I will be in Ft. Lauderdale for it next month. See you there Steve.

  3. Matt Petroski says:

    why not have both? you can be both the great messenger, providing a great message. don’t kid yourself though….you won’t be able to satisfy every audience member every time. if you can deliver the message as an outstanding messenger, and deliver it with passion then you will touch many people. be prepared for the naysayers and you will do fine.

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