“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

You may not appreciate being called “squeaky” as a speaker, but the adage points out that you get what you want by being uh173-b649b4b3-0e62-43b9-a849-625ac4726e95-v2heard. In a world increasingly filled with noise of all kinds—digital, traffic, industrial, music, and more—having your voice recognized above the din is increasingly difficult.

If you watched any of the election debates, or the countless political ads, you may have concluded that frank, open dialogue about important issues was secondary to accusations and attacks. Yet, candidates speak well before the cameras and also on stage to their live audiences definitely continue to hold an edge.

As clients I’ve worked with over the years and news stories consistently demonstrate, the power of the spoken word remains a major factor in today’s business and community endeavors.

Some people don’t believe it, but I was a shy teenager who was also curious. In high school, I started out playing clarinet in the band, and later found my true passion, writing for the school paper, the Nova Vue. Having to interview teachers and fellow students to write stories, as well as work with the other student journalists, helped bring me out of my shell.

To this day I don’t remember how I pulled it off, but at age seventeen, just after high school graduation in the summer before going off to college, I got an appointment with the managing editor of The Miami Herald. Larry Jinks was a kind man who patiently listened as I tried to convince him that the Herald needed a teen section. In hindsight, I see this was really my first ever formal presentation. Flush with my recent success as editor of my high school paper, I had come ready to persuade. What I showed Larry were two sample teen pages on which I pasted stories and the types of ads I thought The Journalistwould support such a section.

Well, Larry did not hire me but he did send me to the editor of a local, respected suburban newspaper group, The Coral Gables Times and The Guide, where I was brought on to create pages for teens, at twenty dollars a week, a twenty-hour a week commitment. The other 20 hours I spent at the Burger Castle, making shakes and French fries. That summer began a process of forcing me out of familiar behind-the-scene zones and into more face-to-face encounters with strangers than I had ever experienced before.

What can you commit to doing this summer to help you advance your own speaking expertise? To help you onto your path to success, I invite you to download a free copy of my new e-book, Get the ‘Yes’ Start-Up Kit for Convincing Presentations, a $6.95 value (limited time). And visit www.speakoutinc.com/shop for other easy-to-use self-help e-courses and e-books.

(This blog is excerpted from Public Speaking for the Genius, my book that is due out in September.)