Public Speaking Tips
From My Year Of
hen my book first came out, I did
what I called a Year of Speaking
Dangerously. Below are ten public
speaking tips I learned along the way:
1. FOR MANY SPEAKERS—AND
ESPECIALLY FOR INTROVERTS—PREPARATION IS KEY.
Take your time crafting the speech so that it flows logically
and is illustrated with stories and examples. Practice it
out loud, until you’re comfortable. If it’s an important
speech, videotape yourself. The main reason public
speaking can be uncomfortable is that you have no idea
how you’re coming across. If you went to a job interview
without fixing your tie or applying your lipstick in front
of the mirror, you would hope that there’s no scarlet
lip gloss smeared across your teeth, but how could you
know for sure? Better to take the guesswork out of it.
2. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOUR PARTICULAR
AUDIENCE WANTS TO HEAR.
Are they craving new information? Insights? What problem
do they hope to solve? Give them what they want and need.
3. IF YOU HAVEN’T SPOKEN PUBLICLY IN A WHILE AND FEEL
RUSTY, WATCH VIDEOS OF SPEAKERS THAT HAVE SHOTS
TAKEN FROM THE SPEAKER’S VANTAGE POINT, WHERE
YOU CAN SEE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO FACE THE AUDIENCE.
(Many TED talks have these shots.) As you
watch, pretend you’re the speaker. Get used to
what it feels like to have all eyes on you.
4. SIMILARLY, IF YOU CAN, VISIT THE ROOM
WHERE YOU’LL BE SPEAKING.
Practice standing at the podium, looking
out into the rows of seats.
5. WHEN YOU LISTEN TO A GREAT SPEAKER
OR HEAR SOMEONE MENTION ONE, GET
A TRANSCRIPT OF THE SPEECH.
Study it. How was it constructed? What kind of opening
and closing were used? How were examples presented?
How did the speaker engage, inspire, and educate the
audience? Most people are not born great orators.
They study, and practice. (This tip comes from Steve
Harrison, the co-founder of Reporter Connection).
6. KEEP A VIDEO DIARY OR VIDEO BLOG.
I always enjoy my friend Gretchen Rubin’s video
posts on her Happiness Project blog.
7. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES AS
A SPEAKER, AND ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE.
If you have a great sense of humor, use it. If you’re not a
natural cut-up, don’t try to be. Instead, focus on what you
do best. Do you have a great story to tell? An interesting idea
your audience hasn’t considered? Information they need to
hear? Frame your speech around your message —and around
who you are as a person. Thoughtful and thought-provoking
is every bit as powerful as dynamic and entertaining.
8. AT THE SAME TIME, PUBLIC SPEAKING IS A
PERFORMANCE, AND THAT’S A GOOD THING,
EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT A NATURAL ACTOR.
Have you ever wondered why people enjoy costume parties?
It’s because they feel liberated when interacting from behind
a mask, from within a role. Dressing up as Cinderella or
Don Draper removes inhibitions as effectively as a glass
of wine. Think of your onstage persona the same way.