13 Practical Best Practices for Public Speaking

public speaking best practices

Small business owners can nail speaking opportunities…here’s how.


Editor’s note: This is part two of a two part piece on public speaking. Part one entitled Overcoming the Dread of Public Speaking It covered: Being able to convince people or at least influence people can be a pretty effective tool whatever your trade.  Most successful people are perfectly comfortable doing this one-on-one or in a small group.  

My thoughts (Note, I am NOT a speaker trainer or a paid speaker, just someone with a fair amount of experience):

1.   Know your stuff

Talk about things you really know. 

This will calm you down because even if you dropped your note cards or the A/V goes bad, you know what you are talking about because it is something you do every day.

2.   I find it useful to visualize the experience. 

Much like you see Alpine skiers do at the top of a perilous run down the mountain – you see them going through each and every turn, each bump, each stretch of ice before they start. 

3.    I personally prefer visualization to rehearsals.

It’s because I like my presentations to feel fresh and specifically un-rehearsed.

4.   But I know of many who say they benefit greatly from rehearsals in front of loved ones.

Even better, professionals in your field you can trust to give honest, friendly advice. 

You may need advice but you certainly don’t need sarcasm or to have your confidence torn down just when you need it the most.

5.   Video record your practice presentations and self-assess your own performance.

This is what athletes and artists do – they use ‘game film’ to improve their performance.

Most all smartphones, iPads, and other digital devices come with audio and video recording capability. Why not make this part of your preparation process?

6.   Just like the guy on the on-deck circle in baseball.

You are watching the crowd, the pitcher, the previous batter, taking practice swings, etc.  So as the speakers who precede you do their thing, you will be able to get a sense of the audience and make small adjustments so you feel ready to go.

7.   As I mentioned, you will need your confidence. 

To some that means swagger, and I have seen swagger be hugely effective but I have also seen it become a complete disaster. 

So if swagger is natural to you, fine.  Go for it.  But if not, don’t fake it.  What you want to shine through is your passion for your topic, not arrogance.  But above all else, be yourself, even if that self is a relatively shy person – you can win people over by letting them identify with you.

8.   Sometimes you just can’t win. 

Once I presented a multicultural sensitivity training in front of an audience that was waiting to listen to a very conservative leader who was speaking right after me. 

The audience was having none of what I was offering.  But a couple of tables in the room were with me, so I focused my energy on them and soldiered through.

Next page- Jokes, Growing trust and more…Best practices #9 through #13. 


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