Craig Ferguson on Public Speaking

Last night on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Craig talked about public speaking … providing some off the wall tips and information about how to develop this skill. Some of them were actually pretty good, so I wanted to share them with you.

Craig Ferguson on Public Speaking

Photo by Rachel Lovinger (originally posted to Flickr as Craig Ferguson 2) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Glossophobia is the fancy name for speech anxiety. And its something that all speakers experience to some degree. Craig himself admitted that he experiences nerves when doing his schtick. Sometimes this nervousness stems from shyness, something that many famous speakers and performers have admitted to suffering from, such as Abraham Lincoln, Tom Hanks and Lucile Ball. But there are plenty of famous people who have confessed to glossophobia:

Aristotle – This Greek philospher was a great teacher, advising Alexander the Great.
Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill – This British leader feared speaking due to what he called a speech impediment. It is unclear what this impediment was, however … a lisp, stuttering, stammering or something else.
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson – This American Academy award winning actor suffered from a debilitating stutter as a child. It was his speech therapist that suggested acting to him.

And there are more.

In the clip above, Craig gave some suggestions for overcoming the fear of public speaking, and I’d like to go into them a bit further here.


Tongue firmly in cheek, Craig suggested drugs and alcohol calm you down before a speech. Obviously bad advice. But calming yourself is a very good idea. Some people do this with breathing or meditation. Others use visualization. Find your calming ritual. You most likely won’t get rid of all your nerves but remember you can use the butterflies that are left to give your opening energy and excitement.

You are not alone

Sometimes knowing and understanding that you are not the only one who is nervous can help you calm your nerves. As I mentioned above, there are plenty of well-spoken, famous people who have (and sometimes still do) experience the fear of public speaking. You are not alone. If they can appear poised and well-spoken despite the jitters, you can, too!


“The truth is there is no shortcut to becoming a great public speaker,” Craig said. “It takes years and years of practice.” And this is very true. The more you practice, the better you will get and the less nervous you will feel. As you build your confidence, your nervous energy will become a boon, instead of a bane.

Additional advice

Craig also mentioned the importance of a good opening and close to your speech. He suggested a joke or humorous anecdote, but there are plenty of ways you can open and close a speech. To open, find something that engages the audience in some way. This can be a question, a startling fact or even a story. This not only breaks the ice and builds rapport, but also perks up their ears so they are primed to listen to the rest of your presentation.

And remember to end it all with a good, strong ending. This can be your call to action, another story or something else that sums up what you’ve been talking about. People are more likely to remember the ending of your speech than any other part. I need to be strong and powerful.

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About the author

Carma Spence, is author of Public Speaking Super Powers. She is fiercely committed to guiding women to Owning their Superpowers and turning their knowledge and interests into a profitable business. She is masterful at helping her clients see what is possible for them and supporting them on the journey from where they are to where they want to be, releasing the Mind Goblins of self-doubt, self-sabotage and second-guessing that keep them stuck.

With 20+ years experience in marketing communications and public relations, natural intuitive skills and certification in using some of the most effective transformational coaching tools available, Carma’s mission and commitment is to unleash the inner power every woman entrepreneur possesses so they can boldly go out into the world, transforming the fabric of people’s lives in meaningful and positive ways.

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