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> Five keys to being a better public speaker (lessons learned from over 2000 speaking engagements).

April 12, 2017

Over the last 25 years I have spoken to groups over 2000 times. There is hardly a week that goes by that I don't do a public speech to groups varying in size from a dozen to many hundreds of people. I have also trained a number of other public speakers.

Here are five things I have noticed effective speakers do:

  • Tell stories. People engage and connect with a real-life story. "I remember the time I got picked up by the police ..." This true opening line grabs people's attention.
  • These days it is critical to use images, and I recommend that you use just a few key images with very little text. Ideally, your image should naturally lead into a key point or a story. The following photo was one I took on my recent 2405km run of New Zealand, but that's a story for another day. (You can read more about lessons I learnt from that adventure at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/life-business-lessons-i-learned-running-57-marathons-59-peter-watson.) The following is a great photo because it challenges assumptions.

  • Ask someone you trust to tell you the truth to review your speech. Be aware that most people will be polite and tell you how great you were, even if you weren't! So find someone you trust who will honestly tell you what you did well and what you need to improve on. If you can't find someone then try and record yourself and afterwards ask these questions. (1) What is one thing I did well? (2) What is one thing I need to improve on? (3) What action can I take to improve?
  • Always begin with the end in mind. This is sometimes called a 'propositional sentence'. You should write out your propositional sentence which includes what response you want from your audience as a result of your speech. So my propositional sentence for this article is 'To get LinkedIn users to read and respond with their ideas about effective public speakers.'
  • Never, never, never go over-time. Do everything you can to start on time and to finish early. Always leave people wanting more not wishing you had finished sooner.

I would love to hear your ideas about what you have found effective speakers do.

And if you'd like me to come and share about the Business Lessons I learn running 2405km in 59 days then check out http://impactfacilitation.com.au/speaking.

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