Dear High Achiever:

Some people say the #1 Fear in Life (more than death is … Public Speaking).

I don’t necessarily know that’s true but if you’re interested in where it ranks, feel free to Google the topic and check the various surveys for yourself. This FYI is going to be focused on the core competencies of presenting.

I’m going to change the format that I usually use in the FYI Newsletter and provide you with more of a “Checklist” or the “Cliff Notes” style of the Public Speakers Hand Book.

I’ve been speaking professionally since I was 26 years old. As many of my readers already know, the dynamics of public speaking and professional selling are my passion. I’m a learning junkie and a life-long student of the art and science of both disciplines. Today, I want to provide you with the foundational competencies to help you present more effectively. The tips, tools and techniques I’m going to share will take you from “nervous to natural” and “good to great” to “BEST”. Apply and practice these strategies and you will be 100% more effective whether you are presenting to an audience of one or one-thousand.

I’m going to start with a quote that I believe every public presenter / speaker needs to memorize.

“If you want to be successful faster, you must double your rate of failure. Success lies on the far side of failure.” – Thomas J. Watson

The way to get better at speaking is to speak, often.

Remember: Every time you communicate you are presenting.

10 Common Causes of Public Speaking Stress

  1. Thinking that public speaking is inherently stressful (its not).
  2. Thinking you need to be brilliant or perfect to succeed (you don’t).
  3. Trying to cover too much information in a short period of time.
  4. Having the wrong purpose in mind (to get rather than to give/contribute).
  5. Trying to please everyone (Unrealistic and impossible).
  6. Trying to emulate other speakers (very difficult). Being you (very easy).
  7. Failing to prepare.
  8. Spending too much time preparing. (Paralysis Analysis).
  9. Being fearful of potential negative outcomes (they almost never occur).
  10. Thinking your audience will be as critical of your performance as you.

Define Objectives:
– Are you going to talk about?

How – What do you have to say and how much time do you have to say it?

Why – What is my audience going to learn and hopefully apply?

Experience has taught me that knowing my audience and “owning my talk” are the two most critical factors to my success. This makes complete sense but few speakers take time to survey the audience or have a real strategy for “owning their talk”. Both are relatively simple processes but often overlooked. Your main goal is to keep your audience interested and engaged, both emotionally and intelligently.

Always remember this when presenting:

Your Audience Wants You To Succeed
Have you ever gone to a concert or a play and hoped it sucked? Of course not. Your audience has the same mindset when coming to hear you speak. Instead of thinking that they are judging you, just remember they are rooting for you.

Take a moment and write down the characteristics of a good speaker. Whatever you write down are the characteristics you need to practice and display. Here are a few I can think of when I’m sitting in the audience.

  • Knows the material
  • Engages the audience
  • Energy matches presentation
  • Challenges my thinking (makes me think in a new way)
  • Friendly
  • Professional but not to the extent of stuffy.
  • Funny
  • Positive
  • Relaxed
  • Articulate
  • Succinct
  • Comfortable with technology (Uses multi-media appropriately)
  • Stays on Focus
  • Stays on Time

Send me an email on what you would add to this list.

Here are Four Types of Audience Members you will most likely have in every presentation. It’s important to remember this and accept the fact they exist and control the environment. (This list is compliments of my friend Tony Jeary).

  1. The Prisoner – Is someone who was sent by the boss and does not want to be there.
  2. The Vacationer – Is happy to be anywhere but at work.
  3. The Graduate – They already think they know everything you are talking about and will challenge you if you give them a chance.
  4. The Student – Eager to learn and listening to every word you say.

Simple Rehearsal and Preparation Techniques and Behaviors

  • Do a mental walk through of your entire talk. (The night before)
  • Close your eyes and visualize yourself giving your successful talk.
  • Do a Fast-Walk Through giving your talk in double-time noticing transition points in your talk.
  • Review Your Outline and 3 main talking points.
  • Audio or video tape a practice session.
  • Prepare one to three standard openings (You need a strong opening – it sets the tone).
  • Prepare a speakers checklist of everything you need.
  • Have back-ups for everything. (Batteries, bulb for projector, extra set of note cards, etc..).
  • Arrive early enough to see and experience the room empty.
  • Own the presentation environment.
  • Test your technical equipment.
  • Know where the exit doors, bathrooms and light switches are located.
  • You are responsible for the entire talk – not the facility, the event producer or A/V guy.
  • Sit in the front chair and back corner seat – can you see the screen and stage clearly?
  • You set the temperature of the room – not the facility.
  • Lights should be as bright as possible (without affecting power-point).
  • Do Isometrics and stretch so you are relaxed.
  • Drink plenty of water and have it easily accessible during your talk.
  • Close on time
  • Never apologize about leaving something out (the audience doesn’t have your script)
  • Never end your talk with a Q&A.
  • Repeat or rephrase questions from the audience so every one hears it from you and provides you with more time to think of your answer.
  • Handle non-topic, inappropriate or confrontational questions off-line and after talk.
  • Meet your audience before and after your talk if you can. (Arrive early, stay late).
  • Know where some of your “fans” are sitting. Know your close and have a strong call to action.

If you want to grow and profit both personally and professionally, start speaking. I would recommend joining your local Toastmasters or volunteering to speak at your chamber meetings. Every organization is looking for good speakers. There are plenty of opportunities to share your expertise, get free exposure, build credibility and even generate significant revenue from speaking.

If you are interested in a Presentation Mastery workshop for your organization or if you would like to sponsor or attend a local program in your area send me an email and we can discuss the opportunity.

Go Out and Make This Your Best Year Ever!

Author's Bio: 

Eric Taylor is the Chief Inspiration Officer of and founder of New Jersey based Empowerment Group International. He delivers more than 100 energized and interactive keynotes, workshops and seminars each year to corporations, associations and tradeshows. He is the author of the Energy Passport, Co-creator of the Best Year Ever! Success System and Co-author of The Complete Sales Training Encyclopedia. To get complete details about Eric’s background, his products and services, visit Eric Taylor’s Blog and review Eric Taylor’s Profile.