Have you ever gone to a class or a presentation prepared to just listen or perhaps jot down a thought or two, only to be been bombarded with slide after slide of text, making you feel as if you had to get it all down? You may have left feeling as if you had drowned in a sea of information with nothing to think about after you left and a few pages of scrawled notes.

Slides are meant to punctuate your presentation, not outline it or display it nearly word for word. Remember: slides and visuals in aren’t for you. They are for you audience.

Slides with several bulleted points are too busy for the audience and takes their attention off of you. But when used correctly, slides can underscore the most important aspect of each section of your speech in your listeners’ mind.

What’s In?

Consider your audience. No more than six words on a slide, according to speaker and entrepreneur Seth Godin. And nothing on the lower quarter to third of the bottom of the slide.

Remember, depending on the setup of the room, many of your audience members may be seeing your visuals over the heads of several rows of other people. What about the design element? Find a font and color combination you like and stick with it throughout your presentation.

A powerful photograph paired with a few words can help your message resonate.

What’s out?

An entire document. Too many words will be lost on your audience and most of them won’t even be able to see it from their seats. Long lists or entire sections of your speech don’t belong.

Never, ever turn your back on your audience to read from the slide. It’s just as important as ever to make eye contact as you talk.

A good rule of thumb is no more than 10 slides for a thirty minute presentation. Even fewer is better.

Saving the Best for Last

Create your slides after your presentation is written. This will allow you to pull out a few key points you want to emphasize rather than focusing on the content of your speech at the same time you are creating slides.

Think of it as using a highlighter to mark the most important parts of an article and take a look at Nancy Duarte’s tips for creating great slides.

What Next?

Take advantage of a speech you recently gave where you wanted to use slides but weren’t sure how to, or did use slides but weren’t entirely happy with the outcome. Use some of the tips we discussed as well as this great beginner’s guide to master slide basics and see what you can come with.

You can also sit down with your speech and go through it highlight the points you want to illustrate. Transfer each point to one side of a small card or Post-It note and, on the other side, write down no more than three words that describe what you want to illustrate. You can use those words to look for images later.

Send me an example of one your slides that you’re most proud of. I would love to know how it went in the comment section below!

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Six Steps to Master Public Speaking

You’ll find a huge number of public speaking tips on the Internet. It can be overwhelming! Today I want to narrow down your game plan to just six steps. Six steps to mastering public speaking, some of which go beyond the basics by looking at what you can do to build on your existing skills. The new year is a great time to look at upping your public speaking game!

Beyond Being Prepared

Most people preparing to give a public speech work hard to prepare. They make notes, draft and revise their speech, and rehearse until they feel as comfortable as possible. What else can you do? Visit the space you’ll speak in. If possible, stand at the podium or dais where you’ll deliver your message. What could go wrong? What if you plan to use a mic and it isn’t working the day of your speech? Is there room to move closer to the audience? If the visual equipment goes out, can you speak without the help of your visual aids? Are you confident in you will get to the site if it’s an unfamiliar one?


Spend some time drafting opening sentences that will challenge your audience when you are asked to give a speech. What is something that would surprise them to know? How does your work positively influence the world or fill a gap in an unexpected way?

When you give a speech, opening with something surprising will grab your audience’s attention. Furthermore, having a few of these on hand that you use regularly will help you feel confident every time you take the podium.

Use Your Professional Knowledge

You know your subject or industry best. Help others see it from a variety of perspectives, including their own. How do industry outsider’s opinions of your work influence how they see you? Are their opinions negative or neutral? What could you tell them about your work that would change those opinions?

If they already understand or support your work, tell them about something new that’s happening. This is a great public speaking tip that will help keep your audience’s interest. People like learning something new.

Engage the Audience

Engage your listeners by involving them. Ask questions, take polls, tell stories. If your audience is too large to question individually, use rhetorical questions to get everyone thinking. “What would you do if…” or “Have you run into this problem before?

Adding active participation keeps people focused on your message or draws them back in if their minds have wandered.

The Closing

Don’t end your speech with phrases such as “That’s all I have” or “I’m done, thank you.

Instead, provide a call to action or something you want them to remember as they leave. Try connecting your closing words to your opening sentences.

It will help them to walk away thinking about what you said and what their next steps will be, instead of what’s for lunch.

It’s Your Turn

Try out some of my public speaking tips to help master your own skills and let me know what you think. Have some of your own to share? Send me a note with your thoughts. I would love to hear about them!


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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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Using Humor In Your Speech

Learning how to effectively intertwine humor in your speech is essential to establishing yourself as a notable speaker. We all want to entertain our audience effortlessly but you need to use sound judgement when using humor; sometimes it is appropriate and sometimes it is not.

Using humor can be effective in almost any speech, it can be a good way to break up tension or lighten up the mood. It can also be used to break the ice; speakers that employ humor connect quicker with their audience and are deemed more likable by their listeners.

“Humor is treacherous. It can charm, coax, and persuade, but it can also distract, baffle or alienate the audience.” Eugene Finerman

Also, you can use humor to add variety to your speech to keep your audience interested. Weave in jokes or a funny, small story or anecdote to your topic to keep the flow of information balanced.

However, you should always make sure that your joke fits in with your topic. No matter how funny that joke was that you heard the night before, refrain from using it if it does not apply to your topic.

How to Use Humor

  • Plan your humor according to your audience– The professional level and overall age of your listeners will play a huge part in what will be appropriate and conversely what might be offensive. What listeners will find funny will vary with different groups, so do your research beforehand.
  • Laugh at yourself– Although no wants to see you put yourself down constantly in your speech, the audience does like to see some vulnerability in the form of humor. You can add this by telling a funny story about something that actually happened to you and this will increase your credibility with your audience by making you seem more real.
  • Keep working at it– Using humor in a speech can be difficult, proper use takes time to develop. Try to use steady and gradual improvement to avoid a “flop” and major

How Not to Use Humor

  • Do not try too hard- We have all witnessed someone that uses humor or tries to tell a joke that clearly was recycled from someone else and it is awkward. If you try to use humor that is not your style, it just doesn’t work and is not funny.
  • Do Not Make the audience the “butt” of your jokes – Nobody wants to be the target of anyone’s jokes, it is offensive to most people.
  • Be on the safe side – Do not make jokes about race, sex, religion or politics. For most people, these are sensitive subjects and should be left out of your jokes.

The Video Use Humor in Speechs by Toastmasters International shows you some do’s and do not’s of using humor in your speech.

Implementing humor in your speech is not easy and can be very intimidating. However, if used correctly you can create rapport with your listeners or if used incorrectly you can create a wedge.

My challenge to you is to break out of your comfort zone and use these tips in your next speech to engage your audience and make them laugh!

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Speaking To Teach Your Audience

In a demonstration or how-to speech, the presenter explains how to do something or how something works. This is a very popular type of speech and can be redundant if not carefully thought out and crafted well. In your demonstration, you are going to want to teach the audience something.

Your audience is craving knowledge and they want to learn something new. To keep your listeners engaged and interested in what you are teaching, there some important guidelines to keep in mind when speaking to teach.

A speaker should approach his preparation not by what he wants to say, but by what he wants to learn.” -Todd Stocker

Choosing Your Topic:

When choosing your topic, think about who your audience is going to be and what you want to teach them. Not only should the topic be compelling to your audience but should be something that is interesting to you as well. You need to tell your audience why the information that you are about to tell them is important and how it will relate to their lives.

The more passionate you are about your topic, the more convincing and inspiring you will be. Also, you need to come up with new, unexpected or unfamiliar material to keep your listeners intrigued.

When people are presented with new information, they are immediately drawn in and are more likely to remember what your presentation was about.  If you can’t come up with a new topic, you need to figure out a way to put a “spin” on it to make it new and refreshing.

In his video, How to Choose a Presentation Topics that Rock, Carl Kwan explains the importance of finding a good topic.

Motivate Your Audience:

Start with telling your audience how they will benefit from the instruction you are about to share with them. Once your audience knows how this will improve their life, they will want to listen. There are many ways to motivate your audience but giving them something they can use in their everyday life is one of the best ways.

Give an Overview:

Present an overview of the development or steps before diving right into the entire process. Your audience needs to see how the steps will fit together so they have a mental framework of the task. Also, with your overview you should list supplies or resources needed for the project.

Go Through the Steps:

Use your outline that you have prepared and go through the steps in order from start to finish. Make sure that you keep it simple and demonstrate essential steps only. This will avoid confusion and keep the attention of your audience. Finally, end with a summary of the process, recap the benefits and allow for a short Q & A session.

When giving a demonstration to an audience, remember they are there to learn something from you.  People are wired to want to learn new information, in fact, they crave it. I encourage you to speak to teach and give your listeners a new and fresh experience that will be of value to them in their everyday lives.

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Have Passion For Your Topic

We have all seen speakers that deliver their message onstage with passion and conviction. The question is, how do you use that passion to set yourself apart from other speakers?

We all are passionate about something in life; the trick is digging down deep to find what that is. Sometimes it is something that is not obvious.

Passion is finding that thing that gives you great joy and ignites the fire within in you. It inspires you to do something with all of your heart, and if you lack this, you won’t be very convincing to anyone.

Passion is the genesis of genius. – Tony Robbins

How can you inspire Others if you are Not Passionate About What You Are Talking About?

If you are not on fire for your topic, why would anyone take the time or spend the money to listen to you?

If you have a fascination for your topic you will always seek more knowledge about. People will know how excited you are about your topic by your body language and they will be energized by it.

If you don’t care about your topic, you will be dry and boring and your audience will not be engaged with you. Passion or lack of it is truly contagious.

Why Does This Work?

This works because when you are speaking from your heart, you exude positive energy. In this day and age, we have negative energy all around us.

People are thirsty for positive energy, in fact, they thrive off of it. If you can provide this for others, they will flock to you.

Regardless of what you are teaching, even if it is something that doesn’t exactly thrill you, you can always find something surrounding that topic to be excited about.

Find something that matters to you regarding that topic. For instance, you can use a story that is important to you, maybe something from your childhood with a funny twist to illustrate your point.

Whatever it is, figure out a way to make the topic interesting and exciting to you and listeners. In the video Public Speaking Tips-Find Enthusiasm, Bill Monsour talks about the importance of having some sort of engagement with your topic.


If you are not passionate about your topic, you will not get others to care or be excited about what you are teaching.

I challenge and encourage you to really start digging deep in your soul and think about what gets your fire going, what do you really care about? Believe in what you are saying and always have your audience’s best interest in mind.

Next time you give a speech, use your passion to guide you and you will engage your audience and set yourself apart from the rest.

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