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Tips for Public Speaking from Top Speakers

My latest obsession is public speaking. I don’t know what hit me, but I’m finding myself making excuses to speak in front of people. As with photographing people, I started, because I was afraid of it, and I had over come that fear by just doing it (repeatedly), until I fell in love with the act and couldn’t stop. Public speaking is similar. I’ve extracted out some useful tips from “Podium Tactics From 28 Public-Speaking Pros“. These are general tips from the speakers. I will cover specific techniques in a later blog post.

  • “..putting aside a lack of confidence and delivering a message more important than your feelings and sensitivity. It’s about recognizing that your presentation is meant to help someone.”, George Foreman
  • “The single most important thing you can do is put yourself in other people’s heads and hearts. I think about what they truly need, not what I want to talk about. Whatever size the group, whether five or 5,000 people, you have to at least try to imagine what each of those individuals are there for.”, Tony Robbins, motivational speaker and life coach
  • If you believe in something, you can talk about it. … When I talk to people, I have one thing on my mind: How can I help that person?…”, Jack LaLanne, 92-year-old fitness guru
  • “John F. Kennedy said ‘You should not open your mouth unless you hope to change the world.’ While that’s a bit grandiose for me, you shouldn’t give a public speech unless you want to make something happen.”, Tom Peters, communications consultant
  • “minimize data. We have a ‘three’ rule: Don’t tell them more than three things. I speak at nursery schools; … I force myself to do that because it really forces me to get down and think [about] the basic message and how can I communicate it as simply as possible.”, Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D
  • “Slow down, especially at the beginning of a speech.You’ll get the audience’s attention by pausing.”, Bob Kerrey
  • Don’t be afraid to work ‘off book’ (without a written speech). …On a little scrap of paper, I wrote down key words that I knew would spark stories or themes that could get the ball rolling. … If you have enthusiasm and excitement, if you show your humanity up there, that’s when the audience starts to warm up.”, Richard LaGravenese
  • Engage the lowest common denominator, someone with a negative attitude or who can’t concentrate. If I can engage that person, everyone else with fall like a domino.”, Erin Gruwell
  • “I’m trying to speak to each person individually. Eye contact is critical. I move from west to east, making contact with people for a second or two. If there’s someone who seems disengaged, I’ll keep coming back in hopes of reaching them.”, Rev. Kieran Harrington
  • The night before a speech, I go over my notes right before I go to sleep. …elps your brain absorb the material.”, Sally Koslow
  • “For years, I presented like other people presented, and it was like wearing clothes that didn’t fit. It was much more helpful to do things my own way.”, Tom Yorton, president of The Second City.
  • “If you are the type that gets frightened or intimidated by speaking to large groups, it doesn’t hurt to speak to a couple people in the audience before you start your speech.”, Kate White, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan
  • Use a [Microsoft] PowerPoint presentation as a support rather than as a document. All too often, the presenter tries to cram the whole story into the slides, and winds up with just a massive data-dump of graphics that neither tell nor assist the story…. one, two or three words with an image. It captures the essence of the story while the newsreader gives the details.”, Jerry Weissman, founder of Power Presentations
  • Have a unifying theme tethered to a powerful, inspirational story that will be sufficiently moving to be remembered long after the lights are dimmed and the microphone turned off.”, Ken Starr, former White House independent counsel
  • Compliment the audience. Every invitation to speak is a compliment and an honor to you”, Dr. Robert H. Schuller
  • Make a point using a funny and familiar everyday observation. …At this point, I’ve got the audience nodding and laughing–and the pressure is off. Now I can begin to teach them all the clever, low-key approaches they can take to establish that initial credibility with consumers.”, John Palumbo
  • “No matter how serious the presentation is, you can’t take yourself too seriously. Self-deprecation is always part of my speech. It helps the audience know we’re all in the same boat”, Marty Markowitz
  • Say the same things over in different ways, especially when you are trying to sell something. …It will make an imprint that people will remember.”, Judge Maria Lopez
  • I just try to get people to relax right off the top. You want your audience to settle in, …It doesn’t have to be funny necessarily, but something to snap people out of whatever doldrums they might be into.”, Steve Levy
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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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12 thoughts on Tips for Public Speaking from Top Speakers

  1. These are good tips. I particularly like the rule of threes approach.

    BTW, yourr blog design integrates nicely with your message.

  2. Hey Galba! Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it! –Tina

  3. I really enjoy your website! I just came across it last week and I am there daily gaining any kind of life wisdom I can. Thanks much!

  4. JD

    One of the lessons I learned was to get better at setting expectations up front. By clarifying what you will and won’t cover, helps folks decide whether they should be there in the first place. That way, you really start off with a more attentive audience.

    The other technique I like to do is collect a set of questions ahead of time so that I can do a very targeted talk, focused on solving real questions. The question help me scope and to know what level the audience is at.

  5. I hope i will become a better speaker now.Thanks Tina

  6. roo

    Thanks, this clarity was just what I needed before my speaking engagement tomorrow!

  7. Great tips! There is a lot to think about when speaking, but being yourself is key. I am giving away 52 free public speaking tips. Not every one is earth shattering, but if you can put even half of them into practice I know you will succeed!

    I think you can click on my name in this post and go to my website. If not, its harnessingbutterflies dot com.


  8. Thanks for a Wonderful article Tina..its really helpful for initial change to me…

  9. I’m pursuing my higher studies and planning my career as a public speaker. I would say the tips you mentioned here are really helpful.

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