Tony Hoffman - If You Don't Have Personal Experience With The Subject, Don't Talk About It (Founder Freewheel Project)

Tony Hoffman

All of my speakings are merely telling stories. The stories contain the messages that link to the takeaway and that's essentially how I prepare, I note which stories mentally I'm going to tell and meditate on the messages I will weave into the stories.


1. Tell us more about what you do and what led you to speak on Tedx platform.

Specifically, I'm a speaker on mental health and addiction. There are many aspects of my story that are considered "motivational" but my niche is definitely mental health and addiction. 

The TEDx stage was not really something I had envisioned early in my speaking career, I'm entering my 11th year as a speaker next year. As I became more seasoned I began to visualize the impact I would make at a TED event. 

One thing I did not want to do was submit an application to present at a TED event as many other speakers do. I felt strongly that if I was great at speaking I would eventually be invited because of my message and reputation, which came true 2 years ago.


2. How do you choose and prepare for a talk?

I'm probably pretty unorthodox in my preparation. 
First things first, I need to know what the client wants as their "takeaway" meaning, what is the resounding message they want their audience to hear when the talk is over. Once I know that it's pretty easy because I will not take any speaking job that does not link to my personal experience. 

I don't take jobs that revolve around drinking or tobacco use because I can't personally speak from experience about them and the audience will immediately pick them up from my spirit and are likely to disengage from me while I'm talking. 

All of my speakings are merely telling stories. The stories contain the messages that link to the takeaway and that's essentially how I prepare, I note which stories mentally I'm going to tell and meditate on the messages I will weave into the stories.


3. How can one become a public speaker?

  1. Define your message.
  2. Locate your audience.
  3. Speak anywhere and everywhere that will let you speak. Whether it's to 1 person or 100 people, speak. Your message should flow seamlessly by the time you make it to the big state.
  4. Invest in marketing yourself above the competition. If you don't invest in yourself and your brand, why would anyone else invest in you?
  5. Be patient, I spoke pro-bono for 4 years before I ever got paid.


4. Can motivational speaking become a full-time career?

Absolutely, I'm on the road over 200 days a year giving over 130 presentations yearly. The sky is the limit in professional speaking.


5. Which is your favourite talk ever and how did it change your life?

I can't say I've had one talk stick out to call it my favourite, although I did speak to 10,000 people in West Virginia a few years ago and that was friggin awesome, to say the least. 

I leave every speaking event filled with life and inspiration. I especially like questions and answers periods after my talks, I think that's where I have an opportunity to learn more about myself while providing insight to others.


6. What are the best public speaking tips that have worked for you?

If you don't have personal experience with the subject, don't talk about it. Get away from writing scripts, personally, I think it's a terrible idea... Outlines can be good to keep you on track but if you're just speaking from a pre-scripted outline it's painfully obvious that it's not coming from the heart but from memorization/recall. 

Pauses are your best friend and amazing for bringing attention deeper into your stories.


7. What impact do you want to make in the world?

I hope to increase compassion and empathy in the world through my story and experiences in life as well as help people see their potential and chase after their dreams no matter how crazy they seem to others.


8. Which is your favourite book and why?

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink because it teaches people how to become masters of personal accountability which I truly believe is the key to being a champion in every facet of life.


- Tony Hoffman (TEDx Speaker, Former BMX Elite Pro)

Tony Hoffman

Tony is a Former BMX Elite Pro and placed 2nd at the 2016 World Championships in Medellin Colombia in the Masters Pro class. Tony coached Women’s Elite Pro, Brooke Crain, to a 4th place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil. Tony has presented on the prestigious TEDx stage and his Goalcast video that went viral in February of 2020 has been viewed more than 10 million times. He is the Founder and Director of The Freewheel Project, a non-profit organization that mentors thousands of youth through action sports.




Interviewed By Tuhina Rana

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