Sir Richard Branson, delivers funny and engaging acceptance speech for the 2020 Transatlantic Leading Edge Award at the British Embassy in Washington, DC

Sir Richard Branson has often shared the fact that he is naturally an introvert and feels uncomfortable speaking at public events. When people first learn this, they are quite surprised, especially those who have seen him give great speeches and media interviews.

But, Sir Richard is a shining example I use with my clients who come to me with the same public speaking anxieties. With proper guidance and practice, it is possible to not just get through giving a speech or presentation but deliver a speech or presentation that is captivating, entertaining, and memorable.

Sir Richard Branson, delivers funny and engaging acceptance speech for the Transatlantic Leading Edge Award at the British Embassy in Washington, DC

I had the honor of being invited to the British Ambassador’s residence last night, where Sir Richard was given the Transatlantic Leading Edge Award. Presented by the DC branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the award celebrated Mr. Branson’s contributions to aerospace innovation and technology cooperation between the US and the UK.

In his relaxed and self-effacing manner, Sir Richard charmed all of us with hilarious stories about the origins of Virgin Airlines. He talked about how a lousy flight experience gave him the idea for Virgin Airlines. He then shared the challenges he had convincing investors to help him start his airline – since he had zero experience in the transportation industry – and the pushback he got about calling his airline Virgin.

Sir Richard only spoke for about 10 minutes, and the audience was transfixed. Regardless of what you may think, no one is a natural-born speaker. Sir Richard learned early in his career that developing his confidence and ability to communicate effectively with others was essential for him to turn his ideas into successful businesses.

For anyone struggling with public speaking issues, don’t think that is a shortcoming you have to accept. A good speech coach can help you transform your life, both personally and professionally. As one of the world’s most successful businessmen and a self-described introvert says, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”

Well said, and well done, Sir Richard!

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