When a first-time speaker asked for ways to improve their presentation before taking the stage, I put together a list to help them out. Even if you’re not a first-timer, I hope these tips I’m sharing that work for me, along with the ones I picked up from my professional speaker friends, will help you!
18 Public Speaking Tips for
First Timers Everyone
- Come up with a catchy title. The zingy sounding sessions will be better attended than the plain vanilla instructional classes.
- Before your speech, find out the issues your audience is facing and how your presentation will help them. Interview someone at the top and someone just starting out.
- Greet as many people as you can as they come into the room and ask them why they chose your session and what they hope to learn – this always calms me down and puts me in touch with my audience as people, not strangers.
- Start with a story – maybe from one of the people you just met or about yourself. Pick something that personalizes the experience and brings the group together.
- Take an in-room survey asking for a show of hands so that everyone can see the results at once.
- Be prepared for “co-presenters,” people who want to present with you. Acknowledge their level of expertise and tell them you’d like to talk to them more after the session.
- Consider your format: if you’ve been to a blogging conference, you know how much the audience wants to participate in the presentation, which may good or distracting for you and the attendees. But, a lecture format can be boring. So, see what mix feels right and stay with it.
- Be careful when you talk about technology – have a reference guide or a glossary ready for those who don’t get what you’re talking about. It’s okay to stop and explain a few terms, but more complicated concepts like RSS might take too much time to explain during your presentation.
- Post your handouts online so your attendees can find them before and after your speech. Even if the conference offers to post them, tell your group if they give you their card you will email the notes to them; works well to get prospects.
- Present from your blog. I picked this tip up from Liz Strauss. When she was asked to present at BlogWorld at the last minute, she used her blog as her presentation. If you have Internet access, you can go right to the presentation and not have to worry about bringing your own laptop or zip drive.
- Limit or eliminate PowerPoint. Two of the most powerful presenters I know captivate their audiences in long sessions over two days. How? By becoming storytellers. With no interference from a screen, the audience relaxes and engages.
- Use funny videos. Search “download funny videos” to find them.
- Ask for written evaluations. Every attendee at one of my presentations gets the opportunity to promote themselves on my site and blog. All they have to do is review the session, leave a constructive comment and a link to their site.
- Encourage people to call or email you with questions and success reports.
- Follow up with an online thank you note after your speaking program.
- Hang out with other speakers. Look for a National Speakers Association chapter near you and go to their programs. You’ll learn a lot about presentation styles, topics and what speaking is really like.
- One tip I picked up from them: if your speech reaches one person in the room, you’re successful. Sometimes people in your audience are only there for something else: networking, lunch or a way to get out of the office. Although they might not have any real interest in your topics, other people do. These are the ones who will rush up afterwards to tell you how much they liked your presentation.
- Read this book: Present like a Pro, mentioned in this article “How to Speak Like a Rock Star“
Share your best speaking tip with us or ask a question that wasn’t answered.