Building Your Personal Brand

Hello and welcome back! I’ve spent a lot of time recently giving you tips on how to be a successful speaker and overcome the public speaker fears shared by so many. I’ll definitely be sharing more public speaking tips in future posts, but today, I want to talk about something a bit different: your personal brand.

What is a personal brand? The easiest way to describe it is to think about what others would say if asked about you.

Or to put it another way, what is your reputation built on? And is it consistent from client to client and among your peers? Could someone easily sum up what you do in a few words?

We sometimes talk about what we want our audience to take away from our speeches, that is, what do we want them to remember about what we said? A personal brand is people’s take away about you.

Do you have a personal brand? Or have you been thinking about developing one? Let’s look at what steps can help you do just that!


Spend some time reflecting on what you want you brand to be. Write down a list of five or so characteristics you want to be known for. It’s important to be able to demonstrate these characteristics across all areas of your life. Consistency counts.

Your Mission

Try putting the words you wrote down into a simple mission statement that reflects who you are and what you do. Perhaps you are a web developer specializing in health care facilities and professionals. What special knowledge or characteristics to you bring to the table for practitioners in the field?

That is what you want your mission statement to focus on. It’s what you want to be known for.

Spread the Word

How can you let others know about your brand? Social networks are certainly important. Think about the various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Do you have profiles there and, if so, do they reflect your brand? Is your profile picture clear and free of background distractions?

It’s worth spending a bit of money to have a professional headshot taken. It will serve as your online face and can be used in other ways, such as press releases or mailings to your clients.

Every Day

There is another aspect of self-marketing and personal branding that is sometimes forgotten. Some people spend so much time online that they forget to build their personal brand in real life. One way to do this is through community meetings and professional organizations.

Look for opportunities to speak to groups such as the local Rotary Club. You’ll also find professional groups in your area on It’s a great way to be introduced to a wide variety of people who can help you build your network and share your personal brand.

Staying on Top of Things

You’ll need to stay current on news, development, and trends in your industry. It pays to read widely and interact with others in your field, both online and in person.

How have you built your personal brand? I would love to hear what has worked for you and what your plans are for building your brand!

It takes hard work and consistent dedication, but it will pay off over time.

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Talking Off the Cuff

An off-the-cuff speech is really just a few remarks made in answer to a question. It’s a mini-speech, if you will.

Nevertheless, it is a form of public speaking and sends many people into a mental panic. It can give you that “deer in the headlights” feeling.

Believe it or not, there are ways to handle it without panicking.

The Power of Threes

You can harness the power of threes in a couple of different ways.

ONE: Think about your reply as having three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. Depending on your situation, your beginning might just be thanking the person who invited you to speak.

John, thanks for the question/chance to speak/etc.

The middle can be a few sentences that answer the question put to you. For example:

It has been my experience that colleges who evaluate their students’ performance and make meaningful changes have a higher number of students who graduate. Last year the faculty agreed to add the same statement about the course outcomes to their syllabi and discuss them in class the first day so that student would have a better chance at remember the goals for the course

You can wrap it up by thanking the person who asked you to speak or adding by a concluding sentence.

TWO: Focus on your remarks as a mini speech that has three points. Just have we have discussed in talking about a full-length speech, off-the-cuff remarks can be composed of three points. You can thank the person who asked for your opinion or you can begin by launching right into the first point.

Thanks, John. Our department has used three methods to collect data from potential clients with varying rates of success. Cold calling, email, and networking.

THREE: Now that you have verbally outlined you points, you can briefly talk about each one before wrapping it up.

 It’s Not All About You

And that’s a good thing! Why were you called on to speak? Most likely it was because you have knowledge or expertise that others need.

Your opinion is valued, which means the battle is already won! There is no need to prove to your colleagues or peers that you are an important part of the team.

Rather than focusing on yourself and your fear, focus on your audience and on answering the question that was asked. You may have a few seconds while walking up front to a podium or while you are thanking the group or person for asking you to say a few words.

Use that time to quickly consider their perspective and what knowledge they are lacking, then use one of the three-point strategies as you speak.

Practice, Practice, and Practice Again

Take every opportunity you can to practice off-the-cuff speaking. If you are member of Toastmasters, be sure to participate in Table Topics whenever you can.

As with anything else, repetition results in greater skill and increased confidence.

Join the conversation for more great information in my weekly emails and let me know about any tips you have to share!

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Top Ten Tips for Presenters

Hello and welcome! Today I’m going to do a top ten countdown, reviewing the topics we’ve been covering. If you have been reading my tips for public speaking for a while, you’ll know we’ve covered a wide variety of tips in the last few months.

If you’re new to, you can get an idea of the kinds of topics I discuss here.

Let’s look at ten of the tips that will help you on your way to speaking with no fear.

  1. 10 – Know your material. Practice is crucial to success. It’s important to be generally comfortable with your subject, but there is no substitute for practicing your speech until you can give it without detailed notes. Joining a Toastmasters Club in your area will give you an opportunity to practice speaking on a regular basis, too.
  2. 09 – Keep your visuals simple. If you plan to use Power Point, Prezi, or any other kind of slide, limit it to those that will highlight your main points. Keep the words to a minimum and use bold images that drive your point home.
  3. 08 – Don’t read your speech. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to fall back on detailed notes or wordy slides when you are nervous. That’s why tip #10 is so important! The easiest way to lose an audience’s attention is by focusing on notes instead of on them.
  4. 07 – Move around the stage. Don’t plant yourself in one spot. Moving around as you speak allows you to directly engage different sections of the audience and it keeps them engaged as they track your movements.
  5. 06 – Vary your voice. Use volume and tone to change your speech patterns and emphasize important points. Changing your voice when you talk will keep your audience’s ear. This is especially important in tip #5.
  6. 05 – Tell a story. Using a story to make your point is one of the best ways to keep your audience interested. Weaving the parts of the story through your presentation will hold their interest and keep them wondering what will happen to your story’s characters.
  7. 04 – Put yourself in the audience. What would you want to hear if you were in their seat? Are you selling something or trying to influence opinions? What do they need to hear and see to be convinced?
  8. 03 – Use gestures, but don’t plan them. Allow yourself to use your natural gestures. Planning ahead and inserting them as you talk makes you look stiff.
  9. 02 – Ask the audience if they have questions. Questions give you a chance to take a break from speaking and encourages the audience to stay engaged. It takes the spotlight off you briefly, as well.
  10. 01 – My number one tip is to have fun! Remember that the audience is on your side. They want you to succeed! Let your enthusiasm for your subject show and your audience will love you.

What tips do you have for successful presentations? I would love to hear from you!

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Record Your Presentation

Most people take at least a quick look in a mirror every morning before they start their day. In fact, a great many people spend several minutes there, making sure that they are presenting themselves as they want to be seen. But the same isn’t always true when people are preparing for a speech.

We often forget to think about how we look as a speaker, not as an individual, before we give a speech. The ubiquitous nature of recording devices we carry with us every day in the form of our cell phones makes this an easy problem to resolve.

What’s at Stake?

It really difficult to be aware of all of our mannerisms and speech patterns without seeing our own performance. We tend to think more about how we look on camera from a physical standpoint than how we are coming across to an audience. So what can we gain from being in front of a camera and hitting the Record button?

  • – Mannerisms: How do you hold yourself when you speak? Are you gripping the podium for dear life? Do you pace the floor? Do you read word for word from your notes and make very little eye contact?
  • – Speech patterns: How often do you use filler words such as “like”, “um” or “uhh”? Do you speak as fast as a speeding train? Can audience members in the back row hear you comfortably or are they straining to catch your words?
  • – Expert advice: Is there someone whose presentation skills you admire? You can show them a few minutes of your recording and get their advice on how to improve.

It’s important not to be too hard on yourself in the beginning. Try not to focus on your clothes or physique. In fact, it may be helpful to watch the recording a couple of times yourself if you need to get more comfortable seeing or hearing yourself before you begin a critique of your actual skills.

Once that is accomplished, watch it again and take a few notes on your mannerisms and speech patterns. Work on improving the areas you noticed and then try recording again.

Do this two or three times over the course of a few days, letting what you have learned about yourself sink in. After you have made some changes, try taking it to a colleague or friend whose presentation skills you admire and get some feedback you can incorporate into your speech. It’s a great way to gain valuable insight on how you can improve.

With a little practice, you’ll find yourself naturally making corrections and you’ll see the version of yourself as a speaker that you want others to see.

Take a look at Kathryn Zonghetti’s short clip on what she gets out of recording herself. It’s evident from that clip alone that she has made quite a few improvements!

It’s Your Turn

Give it a try! Run through about fifteen minutes of your presentation and then watch the recording. Take a few notes and tell me what you noticed and what kind of changes you made.

I would love to know how this exercise worked for you!


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