Tips for the Speaker


  1. Tell ’em what you are gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, and tell ’em what you told ’em. (Repetition gets the message through.) Also known as preview, present and summarize.
  2. Check out the room before you speak and make sure everything you need is there, and you know where everything is that you will need in your presentation.
  3. Know the program schedule. Start and end on time. Allow time for more than one and less than 7 questions if you intend to answer questions.
  4. Don’t distract the audience from your message. Don’t look at your watch in a way anyone can detect, or they will look at their’s. Be conscious of time, but try to make sure your audience is not. Avoid nervous repeat movements.
  5. Ask for a simple introduction. Avoid big buildups that may leave you disappointing the audience. The time for hype is when it will get the audience in the door. Once there, establish reasonable expectations of what they will gain from listening to you.
  6. Always repeat every question for the benefit of the audience (who may not have heard it) and to make sure YOU heard it clearly.
  7. When you say “in conclusion,” conclude. Don’t drag it on. Know how to stop speaking.
  8. Have a central theme to your talk and emphasize it from several perspectives. People have limited memories. Make sure they leave with your main point clearly in mind. When the audience leaves the room, a friend will ask them, “what did Coach so and so say?.” Make sure your audience can answer the question.
  9. Make sure your subject is appropriate to the level of the audience. Check this out well in advance, and make adjustments at the last minute if the crowd turns out to be different. Be flexible!
  10. Never explain that you are going to tell a joke. Either you are one of the people who can tell jokes, or you are not. If you are not, don’t repeat your mistake and be dumb as well as boring.
  11. Beware of jokes. Most of them will offend someone, at some level. You can exhibit a sense of humor without telling a joke. (If you have a sense of humor, that is.)
  12. If you must read your speech, make sure you can deliver it well. Better, don’t talk about something you have to read. Notes are fine, reading a speech is usually very boring.
  13. Don’t shout, don’t wave it about. Almost all great speakers from history were quiet, brief and meaningful. A great idea delivered quietly will make more noise than a lousy idea that is shouted.
  14. Make eye contact. Have a conversation with your audience.
  15. Don’t rush, take your time.
  16. Deliver a message you believe in. Above all else, speak with conviction.
  17. Don’t begin anything by apologizing for speaking on this topic. “I don’t know why they asked me to speak on this topic, so many others know it so much better….” Your audience may immediately agree with you, and/or wonder why you are then wasting your time. Likewise, don’t begin by apologizing that you haven’t had enough time to prepare. If you accept a speaking engagement, you prepare, and you deliver. People don’t care how much time you took to prepare, they care if you deliver a meaningful message.
  18. Know what you don’t know. Don’t use words you are not absolutely sure of the meaning of, or words you are unsure of the pronunciation of. Your personal credibility is at stake.
  19. People have a hard time holding more than three major ideas in their heads. Three points work well. Five is overload, and they will forget all but the first and the last.
  20. Connecting with the audience is key to success. If you can tie an audience member directly to your message, do so…tell a story, ask a person for their (brief) opinion; etc. Plus, people love to be recognized.
  21. Tell your audience why what you have to say is important to them. Tell them this FIRST.
  22. If you use Audio-visual aids, make sure they are good, well organized and ready to be presented. Fumbling for the “right slide” or overhead is an audience loser.
  23. Talk about your topic. Don’t go off on tangents, unless you are great at it…and the tangent has a big point.
  24. Know your audience. Know your audience. Know your audience. (The three most important things in great speeches.)
  25. Enthusiasm, as a quality of presentation, cannot be over-rated.
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