Speaking Tips

Speaking Tips

Do you have to speak in public? Perhaps it is a sponsorship proposal for a prospect, or internally at a team meeting. Maybe you are asked to speak at a conference or you sit on a board and must deliver a report. For some, this is frightening. For others, it’s like water off a duck’s back!

I do a great deal of public speaking (even during the last 2+ years). Some of these engagements are closed group presentations. Some are training sessions for small and large client teams. Others are workshops at conferences or keynote convention sessions. I have learned some things by making mistakes! Also, some great speakers have given me pointers along the way. I thought I would share with you the top three tips I have learned!

  • Don’t read from your slides. In fact, just use pictures/graphs/charts and other graphics and limit, or even eliminate, text on your slides. This means you may have to make speaking notes, which is fine, but learn them inside and out. You are presenting because you are a “subject expert” on the topic. You believe in the pitch you are presenting or the content you are sharing. So, prepare and ditch the notes—on screen or otherwise. Let the graphics on the slide cue your thoughts.


  • Don’t go over your time (I continue to work on this one)! If you practice your presentation, you can time it. Stick to that. Going overtime inconveniences others. No matter how entertaining you are, people have schedules, and going overtime is an intrusion. If the jerk who spoke before you went overtime, adjust your presentation to end at the original time, even if it means cutting 10 minutes of your 45-minute session. People will appreciate you and what you have to say if you bring the timeline back into order.


  • Stick to no more than three key takeaway points. Our attention span is limited. Top 10 lists are for late-night talk show hosts. No one can remember your top 10, 8, or even 5 great ideas. Give them something they can take away and use. (I continue to struggle with this tip. Sure in this TMC, it is three, but often I want to provide more content as it will provide more value. But if the audience cannot take in all the content, it is of no value! Give them what they can take away and use. The ideal number of key points is three!)

Now, go blow them out of the water with your next presentation.

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  1. Hi. I really recommend everyone-repeat everyone-take a year of Toastmasters (TM) public speaking training at a club. I was in it for 3 years and it was the best training and experience I could have. The modules are varied and practical e.g. how to properly work with a microphone, work with a podium, props etc. Nervous? Don’t worry – you will be in the majority! In our club we had a lady that was so nervous she only lasted 11 seconds doing her improvised speech before she had to sit down. But it was great! She conquered her fears! And 11 seconds was better than 10. And she went on to do much more. TM also provides very positive feedback and support. So now…think quickly, the topic for your two minute improvised speech is…broccoli. Go!

    • Hey Tod, great suggestion. I think Toastmasters is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

      • Lol… Dave or Mr. Tod I should have said my friend.


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