Confidence, authenticity, development: how to become an international speaker

Entrepreneur Vikki Thomas shares her wisdom on becoming a great international speaker.

Presenting on stage can be daunting, but it’s many people’s dream to become an international speaker.

Personal issues, networking and finding your market are all barriers to reaching their goals. So, here are eight tips to help you develop as an international speaker.


Confidence is absolutely key to whatever you’re aiming to do in life. It is a powerful mindset that can transform performance but having worked with hundreds of women over the years, it is both surprising and disheartening to see how many of us really struggle with self-confidence and for most of us, it is always a work in progress.

It is fundamental to being a successful speaker, as if you’re not confident yourself, how can you expect audiences to believe what you’re saying and be convinced that you’re trying to help them? There are few international speakers who don’t get nervous before they go on stage but you will learn as I did, that those nerves can be channelled instead into positive energy so should be welcomed rather than feared.

Continuous professional development

If you’re looking to become a professional speaker as a career, then you should take continuous professional development very seriously, ensuring that you’re constantly developing and improving all the while. Take courses and workshops or study online. Most importantly, watch how other speakers deliver – not just the masters, but speakers at all levels.

If you ever have the opportunity to spend time with highly successful people, this can prove to be of immense benefit, even if you have to invest in the opportunity to do so. I guarantee that what you learn from being around them is contagious. Soak it up – after all, they are people like you and I, it’s just that their path and direction has been different.

Watch how they deliver their material and see their confidence. All of the successful speakers or A-list people I have met all take time to learn from people ‘bigger or more successful’ than them and agree that ‘if you are not growing, you are dying!’ .

Reach out to international influencers and spread the word across social media

Quality is better than quantity when it comes to thought leadership and making connections on the professional speaking circuit. Making connections with international influencers by following them and retweeting their posts also helps to make you noticeable.

Do not forget to acknowledge them too if you have the person as a contributor to your post. This will all help to grow your brand which will develop over time and gain traction. Your ultimate aim should eventually be an invitation to speak at the same kind of conferences these influencers attend, maybe even on the same stage alongside them.

Start where your market is

I say fish where the fish are. If there are people in your area who are interested in hearing what you have to say, then start with them.

Everyone has to begin somewhere and over time and with practice and recognition, you will eventually be invited to speak in other areas of the country and even across the rest of the world.

Join networking clubs and speaking clubs

Nothing will improve your presentation skills more than practice. Engaging in public speaking opportunities whenever I could gave me increased command over my delivery.

Continuous speaking opportunities will improve your confidence, expand your network and sharpen your abilities.

Get as much practice as possible so that you can develop as an international speaker

Offer free speeches or small workshops

If you’re at the very beginning of your speaking career, why not begin by offering speeches on your expertise to people within your inner circle? Offer them at no charge and let them see what you can deliver.

Over time and with a lot of practice, someone will enjoy your speech so much that they will ask you to talk for a fee or you can dictate a fee. And you’re off!

Be authentic

Authenticity is absolutely vital when learning to be a successful speaker on any stage. Your audience will be able to easily spot when you’re not being authentic and you will lose their trust, respect and attention. My advice is simply to be yourself rather than take on a role. Be genuine and above all, remember that demonstrating vulnerability is not a weakness but can actually help an audience to warm to you.

Video yourself or ask someone to video you

Even the most experienced speakers still find it hard to watch themselves on camera. However uncomfortable it makes you, it is fundamental to your success as an international speaker. When I first started out, in every single speech, I either had someone to video me or I put my phone on a tripod at the back of the room.

Later, I would go over and over my performance, pointing out where I could have done better and asking for feedback from my speaker coach. Years later, I still do this as in my opinion, is the best and only way to improve your technique.

Vikki Thomas is a business owner and international speaker

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

Related Topics

Public speaking