How to Be a Better Public Speaker

10 Top Tips to Keep Your Presentations in Tip Top Shape

by Lois Barth, Speaker, Coach and Trainer

Facts Tell, Stories SellWhile statistics can be compelling in the moment, nothing has longer staying power than a story that houses your expertise and touches your audience’s minds and hearts.  Audiences will rarely remember what they heard, as much as how they felt. This goes for whatever industry you are addressing.

You don’t speak to groups, you speak to individuals in a group– One of the biggest and most universal mistakes most speakers make is to address the group as a whole with that glazed look on their face. Rather than doing that, highlight certain sections (as little as a sentence) and deliver it to one person in the group. Pepper that throughout your presentation and it will immediately shift your nervousness, it will convey far more warmth and personality.

Open with a thought-provoking story, a joke, or a question– A simple question joke or story that makes people think, and that speaks to the service or product that you are looking to provide, will give your audience a moment to breathe, think and really stay with you.

Highlight the most important points up front, and what they will come away with- Something as simple as “Well it’s clear we’re in good company because today we will be covering…… and you will come away with…),” will give your audiences a framework for what to listen for and the WIFT (What’s in it for them?) factor.

Body Language and movement telegraphs more than what you say- Even if you’re nervous, if you have confident body language (stand up straight, projecting your voice, no fidgeting with your hands) you will appear as confident. Be very intentional about your movement. Variety in movement is very important, given how visual a society we’ve become. A simple cross from one side of the room or listing the things that you’ll be covering by using hand gestures, makes all the difference in the world. Whenever possible, stand versus sit. Your energy, voice and overall presence will convey far more effectively.

Insert humor generously– Creating a laugh and learn environment loosens people up and makes them far more open to what you’re saying. You don’t need to have jokes or be a comedian, just a few insightful comments spun in a light-hearted way is fine.

Vary your tone and energy level-  Make sure there is a variety (very intentionally delivered) in your tone, inflection and volume. If you want to emphasize a point, make sure to take your time with it. If your energy is low, people will become restless and tired. If your energy is very hyper, and you are talking very fast, people will become distracted and tune you out.

Insert breaks in your talk- Sometimes it’s the space between the words that convey the most. Your audience needs time to think and digest. Pace yourself accordingly.

Summarize Your Talk– Chances are you’ve delivered a lot of information to your group, and they’ve already heard lots of information by the other presenters. By summarizing the highlights of what you have covered, you will solidify their learning and reinforce your value.

Call to Action– Always end with a call to action (or a next step) to your group based on your goals for the presentation. For example, if you want the presentation to be a catalyst for an in-depth Q and A, rather than saying, “Are there any questions?,” which often puts people on the spot, say something like,

“We’d appreciate hearing about your challenges in the (fill in the blank) area and we’ll brainstorm on how to address it? Or “Because we believe so highly in our (fill in the blank) product, we are offering a 30 day trial and if you’re interested, please give us your business card and we’ll happily send it to you. Don’t end a presentation with a “Thanks for the opportunity for letting me speak to you,” and just meander off the stage.

If you want to know more about how to become a better Public Speaker, go to and sign up for your 30 minute complimentary consultation session by clicking on the contact us button.