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Warren Buffett shares the secret of success

Mastering the art of public speaking is the single greatest skill to boost your career.

Who hasn’t heard of Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway? Buffett is only one of the wealthiest men in the world,  third on the Forbes list of the top 10 billionaires. What’s his secret? How did he get to be so successful?


People listen when Warren Buffett speaks. In 2009 he told his business class that investing in public speaking skills can increase a person’s value by 50%.

“Right now I would pay $100,000 for ten percent of the future earnings of any of you, so if you’re interested, see me after class.”

“Now, you can improve your value by 50 percent just by learning communication skills–public speaking. If that’s the case, see me after class and I’ll pay you $150,000.”

The billionaire’s point was that mastering the art of public speaking is the single greatest skill to boost your career. He readily admits that he was initially terrified at the prospect of speaking before a crowd.


In his biography Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, Lowenstein writes,

“Buffett’s biggest step at Buffett-Falk was not an investment at all; it was taking a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking. As Buffett recounted at the 2008 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting:

I was terrified of public speaking. I signed up for a Dale Carnegie course, then went home and stopped payment on the check. Then I signed up a second time, and paid with cash. It is helpful to teach and get up in front of people. It is important to communicate well both in writing and speaking.

Did Buffett take the course in order to become a better stockbroker? Nope. A confrontational persuading ‘in your face’ style didn’t fit with him. He didn’t want to push people. He wanted to learn how to channel his belief in his “product”. And once he did there was no stopping him.

I had been terrified of public speaking. I couldn’t do it,” billionaire Warren Buffett admitted on an HBO documentary that told the story of his life. Warren Buffett challenged and defeated his fear of speaking by entering in a public speaking course. He knew that if he couldn’t speak in public, it would end any chance of having a career.


“In my office, you will not see the degree that I got from the University of Nebraska. You will not see the master’s degree I got from Columbia University. But you will see the award certificate I got from the Dale Carnegie Course.”

So what can we learn from Warren Buffett, notably one of the most successful men of our lifetime? Public speaking is vital to success.

Take a look around our Brain Blog, see what articles fit with you and what you need to learn. Utilise our free resources. Sign on for a beginner class. Research our online courses. Explore how Public Speaking can further your career. A 50% increase in your value is totally worth it.



About Sarah Lloyd-Hughes

Sarah Lloyd-Hughes is a popular speaker on confidence and inspiration, an award winning social entrepreneur, founder of Ginger Training & Coaching and author of “How to be Brilliant at Public Speaking” (Pearson).


  • Cayla Nolder says:

    Sarah, I can honestly say I would have never guessed that Warren Buffet was terrified of public speaking. He discusses that he was terrified and that it is beneficial to have excellent communication skills in your career but how did taking the course help him overcome his fear? I’d like to know more about the types of course that are offered for public speaking. Please let me know if you have any more information!

    • Hi Cayla – thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I was shocked too! I mean here’s this industry leader who has more money than most of us could ever imagine to have in several lifetimes, and he was terrified of public speaking. He even signed up for a course and ripped up his check the first time because he was so afraid. Taking a public speaking course with trained coaches helps because we know the very things that get in the way of being a successful speaker. It’s not about gimmicks or tricks or tips, it’s about finding your own voice and having the confidence in your message so that fear becomes secondary. Here at Ginger we have tons of great resources for you, online and in person. A great first step is our FREE World Class Speakers video series have a look and let’s keep in touch! http://www.gingerpublicspeaking.com/portfolio/the-world-class-speaker-series-how-to-speak-like-a-ted-talker/

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