Dave's Top 10 Tips on Public Speaking

Entrepreneurs typically have to get involved in every aspect of their businesses including strategy, personnel, financing, facilities, and sales & marketing.  One of the most important aspects of being an entrepreneur, however, is acting as the face of the company.  And, one of the best ways to do that is through public speaking.

Organizations everywhere are always looking for good speakers for their programs. Opportunities range from small local community group lunches to large national trade shows and exhibitions.  Regardless of venue, however, speaking in front of a group of people is always a great way to make new contacts and get the word out about you and your company.


Over the years, I have had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of individuals throughout the country in groups ranging in size from three to hundreds.  I have found that the best presentations always have a number of things in common.  So here is my list of top 10 tips on public speaking:

  1. Know Your Topic -  Do your research and know more about what you are talking about than anyone in the audience.  It gives you great confidence and allows you to relax and come across as the expert.
  2. Know Your Audience - Is this a new topic for them or are they industry professionals? Prepare your talk to address their needs. Anticipate their questions and be prepared to answer them.
  3. Structure Your Presentation - It is an old saying but still holds true today - Tell them what your are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.  Introduce your topic, present it, then summarize.  It works every time.
  4. Use Technology - You don't have to be an IT whiz, but slides, overheads, and handouts are out.  PowerPoint presentations are in and your have to be proficient in using at least its basic features.
  5. Practice - Yes, doing a dry run, out loud, preferably in front of real people is invaluable.  Even if it is friends and family, it  is the only way to really get a feel for your talk and judge the content, flow and timing of the presentation.
  6. Check Out the Facilities - Try to look at the venue the day before or the morning of.  It is large and open or small and confined?  Visualize yourself speaking there.  You may have to make some adjustments to your technique to accommodate the audience.
  7. Get Some Sleep - Get some good rest the night before. You will be more alert and on your toes for the presentation.
  8. Address the Audience - Make eye contact throughout your talk.  Make sure the computer with your presentation is in front of you and the projection screen behind you, so you don't keep turning around and talking to the screen instead of the audience.  Practice this in #5 above.
  9. Slow Down - If you rush through your presentation you will lose the audience really quickly.  Don't be afraid to have a few seconds of silence here and there.  It actually makes it easier for them to understand what you are saying.
  10. Be Aware of the Clock - Know what time constraints you have and pace yourself.  It is not good when a speaker goes on and on after the program should have ended, or rushes at the end to fit everything in.
Well there you have it , my top 10 tips on public speaking.  Let me know what you think.  I hope to see you on the road.

David Chitester


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