5 Public Speaking Tips From Subway Bums

Winter Bus Serves The Homeless As Temperatures Fall
Credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images

There’s a reason why public speaking is the #1 most common fear: it’s super embarrassing if you fail. (Just ask any guy who’s had too many drinks before delivering a wedding toast.) But if you want to succeed in life, you’ve gotta learn how to address a crowd. Here’s some rhetorical lessons from public speakers who seemingly can’t be embarrassed: Subway bums.

1. Don’t Be Intimidated

The subway bum bursts into your packed car spouting a message of faith, a sad tale of hopelessness or just incomprehensible ranting. And you’re too scared to raise your hand in English class? Man up, speak out.

2. Ignore The Haters

While most passengers continue reading or listening to music, the less sensitive will yell out insults and taunts. Yet the subway bum soldiers on, as if he can’t even hear his detractors. So should you…although you’ll have fewer of them if you shower.

3. Project Your Voice

Between the noisy train tracks and bustling cars, you can barely hear yourself think. But the subway bum manages to overcome this raucous noise. Take a page from his book and present your speeches loud and proud.

4. No Stuttering

Even great speakers like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama occasionally gather their thoughts with an “umm” or “uhh,” but the subway bum needs not. Uhh, how does he do that?!

5. Never Run Out Of Things To Say

You don’t want to draw a blank when facing a large audience. That’s why the subway bum’s most impressive quality is that he never quits talking. Sure, that sadly might be the result of mental illness–but don’t just listen to him with pity; listen to him with envy.

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Aaron Goldfarb (@aarongoldfarb) is the author of How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide.