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Public Speaking Skills Lead to Greater Business Success, Says Communication Coach Bruce Hunt

Updated: Jul 3

Have you ever felt the dread of speaking in front of an audience? Remember, you are not the only one facing this challenge.

75% of individuals consider the fear of public speaking as their top fear, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. During a recent instalment of The Unsure Entrepreneur Podcast, I had a conversation with Bruce Hunt, a public speaking and communication coach based in Toronto, to discuss strategies for overcoming this fear specifically tailored for entrepreneurs.

Bruce Hunt has delivered communications workshops and training to numerous organizations and companies, including TD Bank, Xerox Canada, and the YMCA. He's also got a long history as past President of the Downtown Toronto Toastmasters Club where he has helped hundreds of people to find their public speaking legs.

Bruce's passion for guiding people to public speaking breakthroughs shines through in his coaching and workshops. “Public speaking is any time you have an audience, whether it’s one person or a hundred,” he explains, broadening the traditional definition to include various everyday scenarios. His flagship workshop, "Communicate with Confidence," helps individuals learn to prepare, communicate, and deliver their messages effectively.

Three key takeaways from our conversation:

  • Recognize your fear and begin working on it. “The best time to start working on your public speaking was 20 years ago. The second-best time is right now,” Bruce advises. Proactively seek opportunities to practice in low-stakes situations to build your confidence gradually.

  • Begin preparing for your speech or presentation as soon as you know about it. “Start early. The moment you know you have a speaking situation coming up, start working on it,” he suggests. Breaking down the preparation into manageable steps can help reduce anxiety and ensure a polished delivery.

  • Rehearse your speech multiple times until you are thoroughly comfortable with it. “I make my clients rehearse over and over again until they are so done with that speech,” he laughs. Practice makes perfect so rehearse often and, if possible, in front of a few other people.

As a public speaker myself, I confessed to Bruce my habit of writing out extensive notes for my speech — which can become a problem because I rely on them too much when I speak. While having notes can be a useful safety net, Bruce says relying too heavily on them can undermine your confidence and engagement with the audience. He recommends writing down your speech and then distilling it into key points on cue cards. “You have to move away from the notes to have a real impact,” he advises.

“You have to start where you're at and just keep working at it." — Bruce Hunt


Bruce's advice to new entrepreneurs is to embrace persistence and continuous learning. “It takes time. You expect results to come quickly, but it’s a process. Just keep working at it,” he encourages. Persistence, coupled with a willingness to experiment and refine your approach, is essential for long-term success in both public speaking and entrepreneurship.

From my own experience, I know how improving public speaking skills can significantly impact entrepreneurial success. Whether you are pitching to investors, presenting to clients, or leading a team, effective communication is essential. As Bruce talks about in the podcast, with persistence, preparation, and practice, anyone can overcome the fear of public speaking and become a confident and persuasive communicator.

Connect with Bruce Hunt:

[Photo credit: Bruce Hunt]

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