Famous author, Dale Carnegie, penned one of the best-selling self-help books of all time, How To Win Friends & Influence People. Unknown to many, he is also a great public speaker. How did Carnegie discover this and hone his skills? Alex revisits the timeline of events that led to Carnegie’s success. He also highlights the difference between a speech that awes and a speech that moves. Lastly, you’ll learn three steps on how to turn a mediocre speech into a great one.
Listen to the podcast here:
Public Speaker’s Magic Formula
You’re going to discover these three steps to always remember in making a mediocre speech into a great speech. You’ll also learn why personal transparency can build your future legacy one speech at a time and you’ll finally learn that speaking your message in public is the world’s most lucrative skill. Nothing comes close, not writing a book, not having a podcast.
Public speaking is the most lucrative skill and I will prove it to you. Please read carefully because this could have a significant impact on how you can quickly and easily win the hearts of others. Dale Carnegie was the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of the bestselling self-help books of all time. The book sells several hundred thousand copies year after year without any promotion, strictly by word of mouth and word of mouse. Who was Dale Carnegie?
He was born into poverty on November 24th, 1888 in Maryville, Missouri. He worked as a traveling salesman before teaching public speaking at a YMCA in New York City. His seminal book, you probably heard of and hopefully you’ve read it, How to Win Friends and Influence People, won him a national and international following and enabled him to expand that Dale Carnegie Institute into many countries around the world. He died in Queens in the year 1955. That’s Queens, New York.
He was a famed author and lecturer. As a boy he was very unskilled in athletics, but he learned that he could make friends and earn respect because he had a way with words. In high school, Carnegie frequently attended these assemblies, which were events that brought in entertainment to the rural communities at the time throughout the country. It featured popular speakers, musicians, entertainers and preachers.
Inspired by those speakers he heard at gatherings, Carnegie decided to join the school debate team where he became a skillful orator. That’s a public speaker. After graduating from high school in 1906, Carnegie attended the local State Teachers College in Warrensburg. His family was way too poor to afford the measly $1 a day at costs for room and board.
Dale Carnegie continued to live at home while riding to and from school daily on horseback. They didn’t own a car. He took advantage of these horse rides and they were solitary. It was just him. He practiced reciting his speeches and fine-tuning his oratory style by himself and his horse.
Carnegie frequently entered the intercollegiate public speaking competitions and won the majority of contests in which he participated. He was a very good public speaker because he knew that practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. After graduating from college in 1908, Carnegie took a job as a traveling salesman for the international correspondence schools based out of Alliance, Nebraska.
He took another sales job for a meat packing business. By 1911, he had saved up $500, which was enough to quit his job and move to New York City to try to make it as an actor. Carnegie briefly studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and then landed a leading role of Doctor Hartley in the traveling production of Polly of the Circus. You may not have heard about this, but this again was a way for Dale Carnegie to hone in on his public speaking skills as an actor.
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He hated the experience of acting, so he decided to get out of the theater. He later enlisted in the United States Army and served a little while at Camp Upton on Long Island during World War I. After he was discharged from the military, he was hired as a business manager of a traveling lecture course taught by Lowell Thomas. If you’re not familiar with Lowell Thomas, he’s the writer and broadcaster best known for his coverage of Lawrence of Arabia.
After his brief foray in acting, which Carnegie didn’t like, he recalled how students had offered to pay him money to teach them public speaking and realize that this skill was what helped him succeed as a sales person. He successfully pitched the idea to teach public speaking classes for the adults at the YMCA in New York. That provided him a space to begin night classes in return for the cut of the profits.
The classes were proved to be an immediate success because he focused on people’s personal stories. It’s very easy to remember your story. The only thing that Dale Carnegie had to influence the students he had is that their story was worth telling. If you’ve ever taken the Dale Carnegie Course, which I have in fact, I’ve even been a trainer for Dale Carnegie. I’ve even consulted the New York City Office for five years during my stint in Manhattan.
You know how easy public speaking can be when you tell your own story. Your persuasive presentation skills get honed in because it’s your story and no one else’s. In 1913, he published his first book which was called Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business, using it as a textbook for his courses. It came out and at that time he changed the spelling of his name, which was Carnagey to Carnegie.
Maybe it was a little disingenuous, but that was the same spelling that Andrew Carnegie, the richest man in the world nearly 50 years before had as a spelling. He parlayed or took advantage of that spelling. Over the next two decades, Carnegie gradually refined his curriculum to better meet the needs of professional students. He was perceived that the most successful business people in any given industry were not those with the most technical knowhow, but rather those with the best people skills.
Does this sound familiar? Students needed to learn more than effective public speaking techniques. They need to learn the social and communication skills that distinguished leaders of all industries. As he set out to teach these students these crucial skills, Carnegie realized that no textbook existed on the subject.
In 1936, after years of intense research that included reading hundreds of biographies to learn how the world’s greatest leaders achieve their success, Carnegie finally published the book called How to Win Friends and Influence People. That title was a headline in an ad written by Vic Schwab. Vic Schwab is the topic of an earlier episode. It ended up becoming the title of the book and the rest is history.
Its initial print run was only 5,000 copies, but immediately the book became a mammoth bestseller because of the topic. That propelled his success and the success of influencing others. Dale Carnegie, in his lifetime, expanded his institute to 750 American cities, as well as fifteen foreign countries. In 1953, Carnegie moved the institute’s headquarters into a converted five-story brownstone warehouse in Manhattan where I used to walk by when I lived there for eight years.
By the time of his death in 1955, an estimated 450,000 people had taken his classes across the globe. While focusing on his lecturing, Carnegie also wrote biographies motivated by his belief that the best way to learn the secrets of success was to read up on history’s most successful people. I believe in the same thing. Anytime I’m feeling low or I’m in the rut with my business or with my mindset, I watch biographies on television. I watch biographies on Netflix and it gets you out of your funk.
In 1932, Carnegie published a biography of Abraham Lincoln called the Lincoln the Unknown. He later published several other compilations of brief biographical sketches such as Little Known Facts About Well Known People in 1934, Five-Minute Biographies in 1937 and Biographical Roundup in 1944.
The Magic Formula
He published another self-improvement book, which I hope you can get your hands on. It’s called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living in 1948. Dale Carnegie had a huge impact. What was the magic formula that he taught thousands and now millions know? Three steps.
Number one, incident. What’s the specific incident that you want to be talking about in your life or in someone else’s life? Number two, action. What’s the action you want your audience to take because of what they learned from that incident?
Number three, benefit. What’s the benefit your audience will gain as a result of taking action that comes from the incident that you were speaking about? Transparency is what makes the magic formula ethically influential, incident, action, benefit.
If you look up on Google, sometimes the magic formula is listed as incident, point, benefit, where point is the action. I don’t like point. I like action because that’s called a CTA in digital marketing. What’s the Call To Action you want your audience to take?
You’ve probably heard of TED Talks or TEDx Talks. One of the biggest challenges I have with many TEDx speakers or on the big stage with TED speakers is they don’t have a call to action. A call to action isn’t clicking a button, adding to cart or buying something. It could be like to give your son a hug tonight, give your wife a hug this morning or ask a friend what you can do for them. It’s a physical action as a result of the story you tell and then the benefit they’ll gain as a result.
Incident, action, benefit, that is your magic formula. The story formula you’ll learn in the previous episode is when did it happen, who was involved, what happened, how did it evolve and turn out, why is it relevant? That’s the mini formula to incident and that’s the way I create the incident part of the three-part formula. When, where, who, what, how and why. Why is always last.
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Why is it relevant to your audience? I’ve taught that previously as well. There are two speakers of antiquity that one of my mentors, Jim Rohn, one of the great business philosophers of all time, used to tell the story of. The first was a Greek, his name was Demosthenes. The second was a Roman, he was Cicero.
When Cicero spoke, you may be familiar with Cicero as a great speaker, people would look at him and they would yell, “What a great speech.” There’s no action. When Demosthenes spoke, they said, “Let us march.” There is action.
It was let us march against Philip of Macedon. Unfortunately, it was about war but Demosthenes was that kind of speaker. The Alexism is this, you can’t be 100% committed sometimes. You learned all about the ALL IN Principle previously.
Being 100% committed is being committed to the incident, committed to the call to action and committed to the benefit they will gain as a result of that action. Maya Angelou said, “People won’t remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel.”
Here’s a quick review about these specific insights you and I have rediscovered. The first is the three-step formula to a great speech. Incident, action, benefit. Use it because when you do, it will provide great dividends for any speech you make on or offline. Next, if you win the hearts of your audiences, their heads will follow.
What does that mean? Win their heart, lead with emotion, then follow up with logic. That’s the benefit they will gain if they take action that you want them to take through the story and the story gets them pumped up with emotion. Next, speaking can move people or awe people. It’s better to move people.
It’s better to be a Demosthenes than to be a Cicero. Cicero awed people and they go, “What a great speech,” but Demosthenes moved people. “Nothing happens until something moves,” said Albert Einstein. Remember, these insights can only work for you if you work them.
Speaking of reviews, I want you to go to AllSellingAside.com/iTunes. Type in your biggest takeaway or a-ha moment you experienced. If it’s your first time, you can do this in the review section. When you do it, iTunes will ask you to rate this. I do hope I’ve earned five stars from you.
If this wasn’t a five-star rating, then go to another one and rate that one because you only get one rating and then you’re done. Go ahead, declare your one big takeaway in iTunes in the review section by visiting AllSellingAside.com/iTunes. It takes just three minutes out of your day, but what you declare could provide a lifetime of learning. If you’ve done this already, then write it on an index card and keep those index cards because you’ll learn a lot after a year, even six months, maybe even three months.
I have one final gift for you. All you have to do to get a complimentary digital copy of my eBook that’s titled Alexisms: Useful Lessons from a Recovering Serial Entrepreneur is to go to AlexismsBook.com and download it instantly with no cost.
I do hope our paths cross again next time for All Selling Aside. This is dedicated to making influence, ethical influence, within your reach so that you can achieve and even exceed your sales potential. You are not as good as you think you are at sales, you’re better.
Do whatever it takes to join me next time because our topic will be The Four Learning Styles to Greatness. It’s a good one. I encourage you to invite a friend or bring a study buddy because studying and learning with someone else is so much more fun.
I hope you refer some friends and colleagues, even family members to this because it can make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s 25 years of sales and marketing knowhow from yours truly put into 25-minute bite-size chunks week after week. The best part is it’s free. I encourage you to invite that friend or study buddy and I can’t wait to connect with you. All good wishes.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Dale Carnegie Course
- Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business
- Lincoln the Unknown
- Little Known Facts About Well Known People
- Five-Minute Biographies
- Biographical Roundup
- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
- ALL IN Principle – previous episode