[Updated for 2021]
Whether you’re new to public speaking or a seasoned pro, I guarantee you’ll find some ways to instantly improve your public speaking skills here – but only if you actually use these tips!
Over all the years I’ve been doing public speaking, I’ve learned a thing or two – the hard way – I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I want to help you avoid making those mistakes.
But more importantly, I want you to succeed, and if you incorporate these tips, your public speaking skills will make a quantum leap forward.
These tips will apply to any kind of speaking – motivational speaking, keynote speeches, workshops, seminars, business presentations – you name it, and these tips apply.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about any of these.
Public Speaking Tip #1: Use the Stage Wisely
When doing public speaking, most people randomly wander around.
Usually back and forth.
That is very distracting. It even makes some people in your audience dizzy and uncomfortable.
Yes, I know it helps calm you down and you just like it, but it’s a rookie mistake that even many experienced speakers make.
What to do instead: before you even get to your speaking engagement, think about what states of mind you want your audience to be in, and in what sequence.
Then assign separate areas where you’ll stand when you present that correspond to each of those states of mind.
A good sequence for audience states of mind would be first curiosity (that’s one spot), strong interest (that’s a second spot) and intense desire (that’s the third spot) – especially if you’re trying to convince your audience to take some action, buy what you’re selling, or otherwise do what you want them to do after you’re done talking
Be sure to sort each of those places cleanly, and don’t mix them up!
Extra tip: get into the state of mind you want them to be in when you’re in each of those spots.
Extra special tip: if you’re at a podium and can’t move around, then use certain facial expressions, voice tones and hand gestures to “anchor” those special states you want your audience to be in – and be sure to be in that state of mind yourself!
Extra super special tip: build a chain of states into your presentation that makes sense, such as: intense curiosity, then strong fascination, and then burning desire.
Public Speaking Tip #2: Speak at three different speeds
Most people just get up and talk the same way they would if they were having conversation with a friend – nothing wrong with being friendly! – but I’m talking about your voice speed here.
If you like to talk fast, you’ll talk fast when on the stage.
Same thing if you usually talk slowly, or somewhere in-between.
What to do instead:
Speak at three different speed during your talk.
Because people listen and process information at 3 different speeds!
Some people are more feeling oriented and need time to process their feelings – they prefer slower talking.
Some people are more visually oriented, their minds race at a hundred miles per hour – they prefer people to talk fast to them.
Others are somewhere in-between; they usually are very talkative type of people – they prefer a more people to talk to them with a “sing song” rhythm with tones that go up and down a lot.
By speaking at three different speeds, you reach all those listening types.
If you don’t, you lose two-thirds of your audience – they “just don’t like you and just don’t know why”.
Special tip: speaking at 3 speeds is the structure of charisma.
Extra special tip: remember those audience states of mind I mentioned in tip #1? – match your voice speed to those states of mind.
Extra super special tip: When you speak fast, hold still, even your head. When you speak more singsong, move your head around a lot.
Public Speaking Tip #3: The 4-Phase Presentation System
Some people are “why” people – they need to know the reasons why before they want to hear about how or what.
Some people are “how people” – they just want to know how to do something, that’s what they care most about.
Some people are “what people” – they like statistics and facts and data.
Some people are “what if people” – they want to know what might go wrong, or what are other ways of doing things.
You’re making a mistake if you don’t arrange your presentation or speech to reach each of those four learning types!
What to do instead:
Look closely at your presentation:
- Are you covering the reasons why what you have to say is important or why anyone should listen to you in the first place?
- Are you providing statistics, data, and facts?
- Are you clearly outlining exactly how to do things or approach the topic you’re speaking about?
- Are you handling the “mis-matchers” in the room who are looking to poke holes in what you have to say and point out flaws?
Review your presentation and ensure you’re covering all four of those areas.
Special tip: The first thing you should cover is why – why is what you have to say important? Get that out of the way up front.
Extra special tip: don’t take it personally when people disagree or poke holes in what you have to say, in fact you should already be prepared for that.
Extra super special tip: if you get “heckled” use that person as your personal “fact checker” during your presentation – turn to them now and then and say “does that check out?” but put a time limit on their response so they don’t hijack your presentation.
Public Speaking Tip #4: Avoid Death by PowerPoint
You need far less slides to make your points than you think you do.
Plus, people will be busy reading your slides and not listening to you.
Sure, you think you’re clever with your Star Wars or Legos themed slides, and sure some people will love that, but many will not – don’t confuse the idea of separating out who’s on your side and who’s not with the idea of merely annoying people with your cutesy unicorn-themed presentation.
Either blank the screen after showing a slide so the focus is on you, or put way less text on your slides, or even don’t use PowerPoint at all – put the focus entirely on you, and you’ll also stand out from other speakers that way if you’re in a lineup.
Public Speaking Tip #5: Have a Clear Call to Action
Decide ahead of time what you want people to do, then tell them to do it when you’re done speaking.
It’s just that simple.
Many people don’t want to feel “salesy” – forget that.
Just tell them what you want them to do at the end of your presentation.
Here are 3 bonus tips to take your public speaking skills to the next level.
Bonus Public Speaking Tip #1:
None of your internal dialogue should be spoken out loud.
How many times have you heard people say something out loud from the stage like “oops, this remote control is hard to use” or something similar?
No. One. Cares.
Stick to your presentation, keep your internal dialogue and internal running commentary where it belongs: internal.
Just confidently deliver your presentation, without making “meta comments” about whatever.
Bonus Public Speaking Tip #2:
You have less time than you think you do when you’re preparing your presentation.
Most people over-prepare, and under-deliver.
Most people think they have too little material to fill the time.
That would be 100% wrong!
How many times have you heard a presenter say “wow, I’m running out of time, I’ll have to skip past these slides” or they go at 100 miles per hour through the rest of their presentation?
The audience feels cheated if that happens, and you look like a beginner.
Don’t frustrate your audience – or yourself! – assume you have much less time than you think you do.
Bonus Public Speaking Tip #3
Your presentation or speech or seminar or workshop or what-have-you is about your audience, not you.
Your presentation is about your audience, not you.
Your presentation is about your audience, not you.
Repeat that to yourself about 20 times, really let that sink in.
Use these public speaking tips and I guarantee you’ll be far more successful at your public speaking, seminars, workshops, keynote speeches, and business presentations.
And remember, knowledge is not power, action is power – so don’t just read this stuff, nod your head in agreement, then go back to doing what you did before.
Take some time to practice and then actually use these tips and you’ll get far better results!
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