PATRICK DANG'S UNORTHADOX GUIDE TO BECOMING A BETTER SPEAKER
That’s me 4½ years ago: shy, incredibly awkward; especially around girls; and very unsure of myself. I wasn’t happy and decided it was time for change.
Over the years I explored different methods to improve my self-confidence and people skills. I’m not saying I’m now the best public speaker in the world or that this guide will work for everyone, but these methods have worked wonders and helped shape me into the person I am today.
Here’s my Unorthodox Guide to Becoming a Better Speaker:
1. LEARN TO RAP
Everyone’s born with a distinct voice/sound, which changes as you mature through puberty; this is out of your control. However, you can control how you speak.
Learning to rap makes you more aware of the sound of your voice and the flow of your words as you’re always trying to make yourself more sonically appealing. Voice dynamics like inflection, tone, range, and pace can all be improved once you’re conscious of these elements.
I’ve rapped in a lot of talent shows over the years from audiences of 50 to 700 people. As I perform more and more, I became more comfortable being under the spotlight, developed stronger body language skills, and learned to entertain audiences and feed off their energy to put on a better show. I apply the same elements of entertainment and energy for school presentations and everyday conversation.
If you want someone to listen to what you have to say, keep them engaged and entertained.
2. LEARN TO DANCE
People make judgments on your character based on the way you physically carry yourself. During high school I had a slightly hunched back from sitting in front of my computer too long, and I looked very frail in the way I carried myself. From a first impression, I wasn’t looking too good. Things changed after my brothers taught me how to breakdance and I also started taking Hip-Hop choreography classes.
I’m definitely not the best dancer, amateur at best. But dancing has taught me to be more comfortable in my own skin, which does translates into my everyday movements and how I carry myself.
Dancing is also a form of expression and learning about facial expressions, movement textures, and overall vibe allows me to better communicate my emotion through body language.
3. FLIRT MORE
The scariest thing I can imagine is approaching a pretty girl! There’s always the fear of saying something foolish or worse, not knowing what to say at all. Rejection cuts deep. But if you constantly put yourself out there and talk with different people, you’ll realize it’s not as scary as you think.
I’m fortunate to be in a social fraternity while in college because it opens many opportunities to be exposed to different people. Whether it’s a party, a community service event, or a Shakey’s pizza fundraiser; there’s always a chance to converse. Spending a semester in Hong Kong and hitting the clubbing district 2 or 3 times a week definitely helped a lot too. Keep in mind that it’s not as if I’m creeping on every cute girl I see, it’s really just talking and getting to know someone.
There’s a little bit of flirting in every conversation no matter what intentions may be. The idea is innocent: say and do things to charm someone into making him or her like you as a person. And if you can flirt with someone who makes your heart bump like a bass drum, you can confidently talk with anyone!
4. DRESS BETTER & GROOMING
I learned in my Professional Selling class at the USC, within 30 seconds of meeting someone, that person will decide if they like you based on your appearance (55%), your voice (38%), and what you say (7%). We’ve already covered how you sound in “Learn to Rap”, now let’s talk about your physical appearance.
It’s a bit shallow but physical appearance is very important. Similar to how you’re born with a unique voice, you’re also born with unique physical qualities like height, hair color, and facial structure. However, you can control some aspects of your physical appearance. If you’re scrawny, hit the gym more often and get swoll. If you got a flat ass, get those squats in. Staying freshly groomed and switching hairstyles come a long way too. You can also switch up your wardrobe.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to dress well, but you must think carefully when you do make purchases. It doesn’t really matter how you dress as long as the pieces are natural extensions of your personalty; after all, everyone has their own style.
And PLEASE DO NOT be one of those guys who dresses like they closed your eyes and bought random clothes off Pldnr, Jackthreads, and Karmaloop. Wear your clothes; don’t let your clothes wear you!
5. EMBRACE THE 1-3 RULE
Force yourself to create and strengthen 1 to 3 connections everyday. I’m talking about meaningful conversations that dig deeper than surface level small talk. Not only will this help build your network, it gives you opportunities to practice and better articulate more complex ideas and emotions. The more you talk about these things, the better you’ll get.
And if you’re tired of talking to the same people about the same things over and over again, don’t be afraid to branch out. Spend time with people who provide value in your life.
Everyone has a story to tell. Keep your ears open!
This guide isn’t actually meant to be followed; you don’t have to learn to rap, dance, or flirt with girls to become a better speaker, there are million other things you can do. This piece is really about me telling my story on how I was able to make positive changes in my life and become the person I am today in hopes to inspire at least 1 person out there to do the same.
Growing up as a kid, I never had someone to look up to or to help guide me in the right direction. I was very shy and timid. I always knew what type of person I wanted to be, but no idea how to get there. High school was a very emotional time because I wasn’t socially accepted. I would always ask myself, “How come nobody likes me? Why can’t I be cool like those guys in social clubs? What’s the difference between us?” And I didn’t have anyone to help me find the answers.
It’s heartbreaking for me to look back to realize most people I put as “Top Friends” on MySpace didn’t really consider me as a close friend; I was oblivious. And back when everyone was still using AIM, I remember staring at my buddy list hoping someone would want to message to me; not many did. It was loneliness and desperation for change that finally woke me up and I said, “I DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE!”
I didn’t have much guidance on how to make these changes so I turned to unorthodox things like rapping and dancing to help boost my confidence and find my identity. These outlets allowed me to express myself creatively and, at the same time, helped improve my character.
There’s no such thing as an official guide to become successful. You need to figure out what works for you and what makes you happy.If you struggle with similar challenges of social acceptance or feel trapped in your own skin, here’s my advice to you and the advice I would give to my younger self: find activities where you can freely express yourself, be more conscious and self aware so you can adjust anything you want to change, and finally stop worrying about what other people think. Seriously, fuck’em. Your freedom is taken away once you live your life trying to impress others.
Just be yourself; authenticity comes a long way.