How to become a great public speaker

Presenting your work to a small group of business people is one thing but speaking in front of a crowd is a whole different challenge. In this episode I will share everything I’ve learned as I went from being terrified to speak in front of small groups to being able to travel the world speaking in front of crowds of thousands of people.

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Show Notes:

In this episode I want to share what I have learned over the years in the hopes that it can help you.


– Presenting is about selling. Public speaking is about teaching.
– To learn more about presenting check episodes 12-14
– But some thing that are very different when you speak in front of a crowd because in a lot of ways you are putting on a performance that is no different from an actor or comedian. So that means you need to approach how you convey your information differently than you would for a presentation at work


Like I just said, in a lot of ways you are a performer so you will have to learn with some things stage performers do.

Understand your presentation style

– TED presentation personas
– The educator
– The entertainer
– The change agent
– You will want to start by really embracing one of these personas but you grow you will want to try to cycle through all of them.
– Because if you can be education, inspiration and funny then you will really engage your audience

Understand your voice

– Sameness is the enemy of speaking. If you follow the same cadence, vocal rhythm, pitch, tone and gesture patterns throughout your presentation, your audience will tune you out. Think about what puts a baby to sleep. You need to change it up; keep enough variety in your delivery so it holds the audience’s interest.

Control your body language

– Remember that 90+% of communication is nonverbal. Your audience will read your facial expressions, the tone of your voice, the way you use your hands, how you stand and move. A warm, easy smile and calm body immediately tell the audience that you’re comfortable and confident. And when the speaker is comfortable, the audience is, too. The opposite is also true.

Show some passion and be honest

– When you talk to comedians they will tell you to be successful you have to be vulnerable and open up
– The more honest you are about your struggles, the more you share what you have learned the more you will connect with people

Practice and record it

– The magic number is 7. Practice your presentation 7 times and record so you can see what you are really like on stage.

Memorize concepts not content

– When you get on stage you may be really nervous and in those moments having to remember exact wording can be really hard.
– This is why I use simple slides I can talk over so I don’t get hung up on a script

Set yourself up to succeed

– Are you a solo speaker? panelist? I only do solo talks and not panels.

Not everyone is going to love you

– One of the things that always get to me are bad reviews or people who walk out of my sessions. You put a lot of work and soul into your presentations so of course you are going to take it personally when people don’t like them.


Whats your lens?

– I doubt you are going to present about something that no one has ever talked about before.
– You need to define your sense on the world. How do you see things differently? What you have done that is different?

The power of a great session name

– When you are speak at event you are often competing against other sessions so I put a lot work into the titles of my sessions, description and take aways.

Understand the makeup of your audience

– Are they experts or novices? Large audience to small?

Work out your story before you build your deck

– Before you start working on your script or presentation, get clear on its purpose. What are you trying to accomplish? What impact do you want to have on your audience? Are you looking to inform? Inspire? Persuade? Knowing your ultimate purpose and desired outcome will help you stay focused through the preparation process.

Post your deck so you don’t present to the top of people’s heads

Build credibility by connecting with your audience

– Don’t just beat people over the head with your accomplishments – connect with them.
– One mistake speakers often make is trying to prove they’re smart. Remember that you’re at the podium for a reason. Your credentials speak for themselves. When you stand in front of an audience, there is already a gap — you’re the expert, they’re not. By trying to impress your audience with your intellect, you create more distance and could come across as arrogant.

Keep your content simple

– You want people listening to you instead of reading your slides
– You are where you are because of the depth and breadth of your expertise. Your natural inclination will be to impart lots of that knowledge onto your audience. Resist it! Otherwise, you’ll bore and overwhelm your listeners with details they’ll never retain. Focus on conveying a few powerful ideas that they’ll remember.

Put in the time to polish your decks

– Animation and transitions can go a long way to make your presentation stand out and feel more polished

Tell personal stories

– Storytelling puts an audience at ease, humanizes you as a speaker, and makes your messages more memorable. It is the most powerful tool in a speaker’s toolkit.  To find your stories, you simply have to mine your own life experiences and pull out the gems. Audiences will remember your stories more easily than facts and figures, and they’re more likely to enjoy your presentation.
– Two weeks after a presentation 15% of people will remember numbers but 85% will remember a story

Focus on what can they use tomorrow

– Give your audience takeaways that anyone can use
– They need to be actionable and not obvious

Create tweetable moments

– Make you take points simple to remember and write down
– Think of them like writing a tweet

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