Simon Sinek on How Openness to Unknown Improves Public Speaking Skills

In Chapter 2 of 20 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, author and leadership expert Simon Sinek embraces continuous improvement to incrementally improve his oratory and communication skills. Sinek prioritizes not only practice but also taking risks that make him uncomfortable. Whereas this would have been unthinkable earlier in his career, Sinek applies the lessons learned and incremental confidence to take greater risks when speaking to audiences. Simon Sinek is a trained ethnographer who applies his curiosity around why people do what they do to teach leaders and companies how to inspire people. He is the author of "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action". Sinek holds a BA degree in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University.


Erik Michielsen:  How do you use practice and repetition to improve your public speaking skills?

Simon Sinek: Rarely are we instant experts. You may have a particular gift or affinity towards something but you still get better. You know? People would pay me high compliments when I started speaking, and then people who see me a year or two later say that I'm even better, and I feel it.

Erik Michielsen: Why is that?

Simon Sinek: Because you, you learn more, you know? I think that hubris is dangerous. I think to think you're an expert at anything is a foolish pursuit. You're never, you're never as good as you could be. There's always room for improvement, there's always room to get better. You know, that doesn't mean you have to listen to all the advice, just you know, not necessarily does everybody know best, but to believe that you can be better, and to believe that you can offer more is a constant pursuit. You know, I used to think being a public speaker was being poised, and presenting in a way that was compelling, and speaking at the right pace, and that's a part of it, but I have been taking more risks lately doing things that are very unstructured and very uncomfortable. And I will now do, like if I have an hour to speak, I'd rather speak for twenty minutes and do forty minutes of questions. And who knows how that's gonna go? And that, to me, is the best. And so I'm a better speaker because now I'm way more open to the unknown; where a few years ago that, that would have scared me.