Advice from Public Speaking’s Most Prolific Author

Holding each other's books!

Holding each other’s books!

Have you ever met one of your heroes in person? Had the chance to sit down and talk with them for an afternoon? I am happy to say I got that chance recently when I met Mr. James C. Humes, one of the world’s greatest orators and authors.

His books inspire, his life-story motivates and his ability amazes me. In fact, his books are the major reason why I fell in love with the art of communication and wanted to dedicated my life to helping people improve their communication skills. Reading his books gave me the motivation in a major way to write Speaker, Leader, Champion with Jeremey Donovan.

His firm handshake, pink and blue bow tie and lion-gaze eye contact intimidated me at first. He lived up to the person I had envisioned in my mind. Randy Harvey introduced me to Mr. Humes’ books when I was training for the World Championship. Randy gave me a copy of one of Humes’ books “

Here are the framed front covers for most of the books Mr. Humes has written!

Here are the framed front covers for most of the books Mr. Humes has written!

Mr. Humes has spoken in all 50 states, more countries that I could keep count and he was a speech writer for Nixon, Ford, Regan and Bush Senior. He wrote the words on the plaque that Neil Armstrong placed on the moon during the first landing! He has written more than 40 books and learned from Winston Churchill! He told me, “Meeting Churchill was like meeting Caesar or Napoleon, it was like shaking hands with history. Best advice Churchill gave me was to study history because in history lies the secrets to statecraft (government)!” 

He’s the real deal and as professional speakers, he is one many of us look up to.

His home is like an American Museum with oil paintings hanging on the walls, vintage books that line the floor and his entry way table is a chest from Christopher Columbus dating back to 1501. It was an honor to meet Mr. Humes and during our time together I was able to get to know him and his lovely wife.

I asked why he has dedicated decades of his life to the art of communication. He paused, looked at me and said “Speech is power…” and proceeded to tell me about how Winston Churchill used his words to inspire a nation and as he spoke, reminiscing on the words of Churchill, he ended by saying “… words are the difference between defeat and survival.”

He is right! There is nothing more powerful than speech! Why wouldn’t you want to master the art of speaking?

I am thankful I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Humes as he is someone I very much look up to. Just listening to his stories, being allowed in his home and learning from him was a top ten moment for me. He offered me advice for the next time I talk on stage and shared the three elements of what it takes to make a great speech:

You Need A Great Man (or Woman)
Someone willing to step up when times are tough. Someone who is willing to speak out on issues they believe in. Someone who is willing to use their voice to make a difference. The world is full of great men and woman we just need more of them to use their voice to help our world! A great man or woman will not be made overnight. You need trials and tribulations, you need failures and a sprinkle of success stories- you need to experience life. All of the things that have happened and are happening in your life, prepare you to be a better person, to be a stronger man and a capable leader.

You Need A Great Occasion
There are only a few opportunities in life for a great man or woman to deliver a great speech because there are few great occasions. But look for them. Reach out and ask to be the speaker. Reach out and see what you can do to get yourself on stage, in front of that microphone and during the next great occasion. Think of how you can be remembered for the words you say.

Ryan Avery and Toastmasters and James HumesYou Need Great Eloquence
You can borrow the eloquence from someone by sharing their story and how they handled the situation. Think of great leaders of our time and how they were able to handle the situations given to them. Remember to share stories that make a point, pause to let the audience soak in what you are saying and end with what Humes likes to say a “Soul Shaker!” (inspirational story). 

It took time, digging and a lot of research to be able to get in touch with Mr. Humes but it was worth every minute! Take the time this week to look over who inspires you, who motivates you and who you look up to. Reach out to them and come up with a list of questions to ask when you two meet. Your heroes are out there and they are willing to meet with you if you only ask! Remember to use your voice to make a difference and as always…

Dream BIG,
Ryan

P.S. If you could interview one person this week, who would it be?

Ryan Avery

Author Ryan Avery

Hi, my name is Ryan! I share motivational stories and strategies that improve the way you communicate at work, at home and with yourself. When we meet in person, I will most likely give you a "would you rather" question and say "y'all" way too many times.

More posts by Ryan Avery

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Kevin Snyder says:

    Great article Ryan!

  • Great post, Ryan. I’m glad you got to meet one of your heroes.

    You ask who I’d want to interview? It would definitely be Oprah. In my opinion, there is no one who has impacted contemporary journalism and television like Oprah. I’ve been a freelance journalist for more than 20 years and it has been incredible watching Oprah expand her reach and impact on the world. If only I could tell her about my chocolate travel book …

  • Ryan, I’m envious. I’ve read and admired many of his books. They’re both practical and inspirational. Thanks for the profile and insight.

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