Speaking with Confidence

10 lessons from Nick Gold’s book titled the same

Tarek Amr
5 min readAug 20, 2023

Speaking in public is an essential skill regardless of your profession.

It’s crucial to showcase the impact of your work. You may hope that hiding behind your keyboard is suffice. But it isn’t!

Furthermore, you never know when you might be called upon to speak at a wedding or a funeral.

Speaking with Confidence, by Nick Gold
Speaking with Confidence — Book Cover

That’s why you need to learn to speak in public, with confidence. I too need to improve this skill. That’s why I found Nick Gold’s book, “Speaking with Confidence” useful, and decided to share the lessons I learned from it here.

1. Your Audience is on Your Side

Standing on the stage with everyone’s attention on you is going to make you feel judged. Add the interrogation lights, and this feeling is going to be amplified. No wonder Glossophobia — a common fear of public speaking — is a thing.

But the good news you aren’t as judged as you think you are. The reality is that your audience want you to deliver a truly memorable speech just as much as you do.

2. Transforming Fear into Excitement

Knowing that the audience is on your side won’t stop your heart from beating like Lars Ulrich’s drum. That’s why actors and public speakers have a trick to deal with this. They trick themselves to believe that they aren’t afraid but excited.

“Tell yourself you’re scared and you can become overwhelmed quite easily. But tell yourself you feel excited — after all, excitement and fear manifest in similar ways in the body — and something remarkable happens. You breathe more easily, blood pumps around your body more freely, oxygen gets to the brain quicker, meaning you think sharper and smarter” — Farrah Storr

3. Own What You Say

In his book, “Talk Like TED”, Carmine Gallo argued that engaging presentations need to touch the hearts of their audience. Emotional, novel, and memorable are the three pillars of captivating presentations. However, why do children often present with strong emotions and confidence during their “Show and Tell” activities, while most adults become nervous and present robotically?

“Dig deep to identify your unique and meaningful connection to your presentation topic” — Carmine Gallo.

According to “Speaking with Confidence”, the secret lies in owning what you present and being passionate about it. This only happens when you share the story from your own perspective, using your words and style. Observe a child telling a story, and you’ll notice they rarely lack passion; it’s always their story, told their way.

4. The Best Presenters Don’t Memorize

My eternal dilemma: memorize speeches or embrace impromptu delivery? The former yields a robotic tone, while the latter makes me nervous I’d miss something, stumble over my words or make horrendous mistakes. Perhaps there’s a middle path?

The author emphasizes that only skilled actors can memorize lines and deliver them emotionally; for the rest of us, an extemporaneous speech approach is advised. Prepare your key points and improvise the rest.

And if you can’t even memorize your key points, your second best option is to use cue cards.

5. Embrace Your Persona

Consider your preferred style of expression. Straying too far from your comfort zone can make less comfortable. The best speakers embrace their persona, and bring an exaggerated version of themselves onstage.

Think about how you like to say and do things. Do you prefer hard facts, or like to make jokes? Do you prefer visual aid or your voice tells your stories better? Pick the bits that will most benefit your delivery, and then exaggerate those bits.

That, my friend, is your onstage persona.

6. Define Your Core Message

When Cameron Russell was invited to give a TED Talk, it was because of her supermodel status. However, she didn’t talk about the obvious: posing for photographs. She talked about her passion: her efforts to boost the self-esteem of young girls.

Clearly, there’s a strong link between your core messages and your qualification to convey them. However, you need to discover your passion and mold your message accordingly. This resulting passion-driven core message should then become your starting point and a consistent thread that runs through your speech.

7. Know Your Audience

The key takeaway here is to prioritize your audience’s needs and experiences. Consider whether what you’re saying is actionable. For example, it would be frustrating for middle managers to hear advice about significant strategic decisions they cannot make, or for executives to learn about a corporate ladder they have already escalated.

“Even though you are the boss, for the purpose of your speech at least, don’t forget that the members of the audience are the stars” — Nick Gold.

Furthermore, you need to do your homework. Read the latest news about the company you are invited to speak at. If possible, network with the audience before your talk. Look for what Jonathan MacDonald calls the U-curve: the really, really bad and the really, really good news.

8. Balancing Teasers and Substance

We’ve all attended speeches brimming with teasers but lacking real substance. Speakers promise you’ll learn so and so by the end, yet once they stop talking, you’ve gained nothing. I call these speeches “fluffy.”

Avoiding delivering one of these is obvious, but being overly sparse on content is also discouraged.

“Leaving the audience wanting more plays a part in leaving a lasting memory. Although a speech should always deliver substance, it should also hint at so much more”, — Nick Gold.

The need to create a lasting memory aligns with Carmine Gallo’s advice on the three pillars of captivating presentations.

This brings us to the next advice about your slides.

9. Avoid Crowded Slides

The author recommended a maximum of seven words per slide. Certain presenters rely solely on visuals. Others opt for no slides and instead use their voice to paint the scene.

The choice is yours, but ensure you don’t overwhelm the audience.

10. Managing Timing Effectively

You’re running out of time; what to do? Speed up and swiftly cover the remaining parts? Or inform the audience about the need to skip some portions?

The answer is that your audience would prefer an enjoyable speech over a rushed one. Be honest and explain that you won’t cover all the ground you initially planned.

Of course, this is the lesser of two evils. Ideally, you want to finish on time, or it’s more acceptable to finish slightly early than late. You can always offer a longer Q&A if you finish early.

Moreover, if you master your skill, you can make your talk interactive. Asking questions to the audience is one of the best ways to keep them engaged.

Finally, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could share with me additional advice for public speaking.

What’s your secret sauce and trade tricks? How do you prepare? Do you meditate, or breath differently? And which of the advices here you find useful.

And of course, don’t consider my summary a replacement for reading the book itself. Here is a link to it Nick Gold’s book on Amazon.

All links to books above are affiliate links



Tarek Amr

I write about what machines can learn from data, what humans can learn from machines, and what businesses can learn from all three.