M Curtis McCoy On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Punctuality — Arrive early to ensure you have time to set up and relax before your talk starts. I like to go to a secluded area, pray, stretch, stand tall and do some vocal warm-ups before getting on stage.
At some point in our lives, many of us will have to give a talk to a large group of people. What does it take to be a highly effective public speaker? How can you improve your public speaking skills? How can you overcome a fear of speaking in public? What does it take to give a fascinating and engaging public talk? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker,” we are talking to successful and effective public speakers to share insights and stories from their experiences. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing M. Curtis McCoy.
M. Curtis McCoy is an American podcast host and motivational speaker. Curtis is also a best-selling personal development author and host of “Success, Motivation & Inspiration” on Amazon Fire TV.
M. Curtis McCoy has dedicated his life to helping others break through their limiting beliefs and achieve success. As a motivational speaker, he inspires millions of people worldwide with his message of hope and possibility.
In his most recent book, How To Be Successful: Think Like A Leader, M. Curtis McCoy compiles true stories and conversations with entrepreneurs to help you live your best life.
If you’re looking for motivation and inspiration, M. Curtis McCoy is the perfect speaker for your next event. His message of hope and possibility will inspire you to reach your goals and live your best life. Be sure to check out his podcast as well. You won’t be disappointed!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you. I’m honored to connect with your audience! I grew up in a rough household where “children are to be seen, not heard.” I won’t spend too much time talking about the abuse in this interview, but I had zero self-confidence and no sense of self-worth. My dad often told me I was “a waste of skin” or a “waste of oxygen,” and on one occasion, he urged me to “do the world a favor” and commit suicide. The only reason I didn’t was that I wanted to prove my dad wrong.
When I moved out for college, I spent years being too shy to hold a conversation with a stranger. I had a hard time making eye contact and never thought I’d end up becoming a motivational speaker.
We all go through junk we don’t like to share. We want to look like we’ve got a great life and everything is perfect, but everyone is struggling with something behind closed doors. It’s up to you to decide if you let your past become your identity. Leaders choose to be defined by their purpose rather than their struggles.
Can you share a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
After college, I started several companies, including a cosmetic medical LASER clinic, a Christian clothing company, a white-label pharmaceutical company, and a supplement business that sponsored events at the Denver Colleseum, MMA fights, and bodybuilding events all over Colorado.
Life was great; surrounded by professional bodybuilders, fitness models, Denver Broncos cheerleaders, Denver Nuggets dancers, powerlifters, and athletes!
I’ve had type-1 diabetes since I was 27 months old, so when I started having multiple grand-mal seizures weekly, I thought it was just a side effect of diabetes. It wasn’t until I woke up one morning in 2010 with half my body paralyzed that oncologists diagnosed me with a malignant glioblastoma brain tumor.
I couldn’t run any of my businesses and could no longer live alone or drive a vehicle due to the frequent seizures, so I had to move home temporarily with my mom and “bonus-dad,” Steve (he’s like a step-dad, only cooler).
While fighting brain cancer, my mom urged me not to focus on the terminal diagnosis and start another business instead. I think she did this to keep my mind off the brain cancer, but I printed out some flyers and started repairing iPhone screens on the kitchen table. Over the next ten years, that little screen repair business morphed into a telecommunications company (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) serving over 250,000 users in all 50 states!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
A young man called me in January after searching Google for motivational speakers. Unfortunately, I found out during our conversation that he had already been taking painkillers to overdose and commit suicide. He called late at night, planning to leave a message with a stranger about his suicide before finishing the bottle of pills.
We each talked about our tough childhoods and how it felt like death was his only way out. We spent about 45 minutes on the phone, and this young man promised he would flush the rest of the pills down the toilet instead of finishing the bottle.
I was scheduled to speak in San Antonio, TX, on March 12th and had been preparing for the speech for weeks. At 2:38 AM, that same young guy sent me a text message with pictures of him holding my book. He was celebrating his 24th birthday, and rather than partying; he read How To Be Successful: Think Like A Leader, cover-to cover. In the text, he shared his new personal identity. He now defines himself as “a leader who’s all about progressing in life and bettering himself every single day.”
This young guy deciding he was created for greatness and choosing to give life another try is worth more to me than any money I’ll ever earn from book sales or speaking engagements.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know that it’s funny, but many new speakers use too many notes when giving a speech. I was terrible at using too many notes because of the memory issues after surviving brain cancer. Still, it’s much easier to connect with your audience if you write down a few bullet points and have a natural conversation with the audience.
Here’s the lesson: Write a few bullet points and talk from the heart!
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I owe my success to hundreds of people, including employees at my retail stores, business partners, and even podcast hosts and authors who create inspirational content that keeps me growing! My telecommunications company would have never gone nationwide without an incredible investment of time and money from our friend, Paul Silzell.
As a teenager, my dad kept us away from my mom, but as soon as I moved to Denver for college, we were able to get back in touch. For over 20 years, my mom, Connie V. Wyatt, has been my best friend. We’ve worked on massive business projects and taken some pretty cool trips together! She researched the Hoxsey Biomedical Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, when I was given only 60–90 days to live with brain cancer! After American oncologists said I had a 0% chance of survival, that treatment saved my life.
Daniel Gomez is an award-winning professional speaker who I admire. He’s an incredible friend as well.
Daniel hosts the Sticker Shock Speaking Academy in San Antonio, TX. The event gives speakers the blueprint for building and operating a successful speaking business. I absolutely recommend this event if you plan on becoming a professional speaker! It’s incredible!
I was scheduled to speak at Sticker Shock in March. However, the morning I was scheduled to speak, I fell outside the conference center, hit my head on the sidewalk, and had a seizure.
It was raining, so when I fell, the back of my suit was wet. My head was bleeding from the impact against the sidewalk. Paramedics came, and I was so embarrassed that I almost booked an early flight home and skipped speaking. It took everything I had to go back inside.
I gave a 10-minute speech that went incredibly well, but I felt like an outcast. “Was this the last time I’d ever agree to speak on stage?” Was I an imposter?” The devil was really working on my self-confidence. I was ready to give up.
Rather than avoiding the guy who just had a seizure, Daniel Gomez invited me up on stage with a couple of preachers who prayed over me as a group. They spoke encouraging words and prayed for healing. The love and camaraderie I felt were like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Try joining a speaking club like Toastmasters! Find opportunities to speak at local events, coworking spaces, and community gatherings. Start taking every opportunity to speak. The audience wants you to be amazing! Be yourself! They’re rooting for you!
I’ve given hundreds of talks, and the fear never completely disappears, but it gets easier when you remember that the audience isn’t judging you. No one pays to go to an event, hoping the speaker sucks. Instead, they’re on your side!
What drives you to get up every day and give your talks? What is the main empowering message you aim to share with the world?
We talked earlier about the young man who decided not to end his life after calling me in January. He’s the 4th person to reach out while deciding whether or not to commit suicide. Thankfully, everyone who dared to reach out chose not to end their life.
When I was young, I did everything to be “successful,” focusing on becoming wealthy, but as I got older, I started to care more about encouraging and inspiring people to live their best life. If I give a speech or post a short video on social media that inspires someone to keep going or become a better person, or if I help a single small business succeed, that’s what gets me excited!
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
Thank you so much! I’ve spoken at Caesar’s Palace and some pretty cool venues, but there are two projects I’m most excited about now:
First, I’m excited to be speaking at schools to inspire kids and help them see that the things they’re going through won’t last forever, and life gets better if you keep pushing.
Also, I’m offering business coaching/mentoring to entrepreneurs on a limited basis, and it’s been incredible to see their growth in business and life!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Then, can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Rather than reshare a quote, I have a message for your audience. You have a story to share. Your opinion matters, and people can benefit from hearing your message!
We all have doubts and fears, but that’s not an excuse not to inspire others to greatness! Public speaking will open up opportunities you never knew existed! You can do this!
Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker?”
- Preparation & Practice — Do your research and know your topic inside out. It’s easy to talk about a subject you know well! You don’t need to worry about memorizing an entire speech if you know the subject well! We’ve all heard the saying, “practice makes perfect,” but that’s not entirely true. Perfect practice makes perfect! Rehearse in front of a mirror, record yourself or get feedback from friends.
- Punctuality — Arrive early to ensure you have time to set up and relax before your talk starts. I like to go to a secluded area, pray, stretch, stand tall and do some vocal warm-ups before getting on stage.
- Personality & Passion — Be yourself and engage with your audience members. Don’t try to be someone you’re not! Make eye contact with a few people. Talk about the benefits your audience can receive. Don’t make the speech about you. Speak from the heart and let your passion for the subject shine through.
- Poise & Projection — Maintain good posture and keep your head up. Standing tall with your chest out helps with confidence. Don’t be afraid to move around and use relevant hand gestures to keep the audience interested. Speak for the size of the room. Speaking too loud can look awkward or irritating if you’re talking to a small audience in a conference room. Speak loudly enough and clearly so that everyone can hear you.
- Positive Attitude — Smile and radiate positive energy! Even if you’re nervous, smiling (when appropriate) helps you be more relatable.
As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?
The audience wants you to be amazing! Be yourself! They’re rooting for you!
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I believe you were created by the same God who created the entire universe. He is the most powerful force in existence. He created you in His image, and He loves you! You’re more incredible than you’ll ever know! I would love to put that on billboards across the country.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I’ve been able to share meals with some incredible leaders, but Brad Lea is someone I find incredibly entertaining and inspirational.
Brad Lea has interviewed leaders like Daymond John, Tim Grover, Ed Mylett, Grant Cardone, Patrick Bet-David, Tom Bilyeu, Robert Kiyosaki, and Jesse Itzler on the Dropping Bombs Podcast.
I look forward to being a guest on his show soon! I’ll be happy to bring lunch if he has time to eat!
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
M. Curtis McCoy has links to the platforms I’m most active on, but right now, I’m focusing on:
- Instagram: M. Curtis McCoy
- Facebook: M. Curtis McCoy
- Twitter: M. Curtis McCoy
- LinkedIn: M. Curtis McCoy
This was so informative; thank you so much! We wish you continued success!