15 Tips to Speaking in Front of People

While you may be reluctant or, even worse, scared to give a presentation in front of a group of people, it is one of life’s greatest personal growth experiences. When you have the opportunity to share your insights with a group, accept the invitation and watch your self-confidence and value to the market grow! Over … Continue reading 15 Tips to Speaking in Front of People

Man is speaking on indoor business conference for managers.

While you may be reluctant or, even worse, scared to give a presentation in front of a group of people, it is one of life’s greatest personal growth experiences. When you have the opportunity to share your insights with a group, accept the invitation and watch your self-confidence and value to the market grow!

Over the last 25 years I have given more than 1000 presentations to groups as large as 50,000 people. During this time I have become a student of public speaking and hope you can benefit from some of the things I’ve learned when giving your next presentation.

1. Prepare – The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be come presentation time. Before I gave my first presentation I scripted out what I wanted to say word-for-word and memorized it. I then practiced in front of my video camera. While you may not need to take your preparation to that extreme, if you want to influence people with your presentation, make sure you are prepared.    

2. Dress Appropriately – Just as someone forms an opinion of a website in less than one second, they will also form an opinion of you in less than a second. If you want them to take your message seriously, they need to take you seriously. While I hate wearing suits and ties, when I speak, I almost always wear a suit and tie.

3. Come Early – Arriving early reduces stress, allows you to become familiar with your surroundings, and gives you time to get set up without rushing.  If you will be using in microphone, make sure it’s working and has a fresh battery if it’s wireless. If you are using a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation, make sure the remote is working and that your slides are being displayed correctly.

4. Use Visuals – I have found that using visual aids such as a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation helps. Not only do attractive slides help your audience absorb your message, but they also help you stay on track. 

5. Make Sure Your Visuals are Readable– Be sure the fonts and images used are large enough that the people in the back of the room can easily see them. Throughout my career I have found that 80% of the people who use visuals don’t take into consideration that people will need to read them in the back of the room. Not only does this reflect poorly on the speaker, but it undermines their ability to connect with their audience.

6. Give the Person Introducing You Instructions – The person introducing you should have a short script or bullet points of what to say when introducing you. The goal is for this person to establish you as an authority on your subject.

7. Open with a Smile – I always open my presentations with a smile and warm welcome.  When I do this I see people smiling back and beginning to connect with me. Try it and you will see what I mean.

8. Connect Emotionally – As you open your presentation, be warm and gracious and look for ways to emotionally connect with your audience. Help them feel the need for what you are offering.

9. Be Humble and Authentic – For some reason when people stand up and start speaking their egos grow like Pinocchio’s nose. If you want people to like you, respect you, and connect with you, be authentic and stay humble.

10. Stay on Time – Part of earning people’s respect as a presenter is making sure you are prepared to deliver your message in the time allowed. If you are giving a one-hour presentation, know where you want to be 15, 30, and 45 minutes into your presentation. If you see you are running behind at any of these points, then adjust to get yourself back on track.  Rushing to finish makes you look like you weren’t prepared.

11. Make Eye Contact – If you want people to connect with you and your message, they need to feel included. That’s best done by making eye contact. If you are talking to a small group, look at each person for one or two sentences. If you are talking to a large group, look at each section of people for one or two sentences. Try to keep eye contact with each person or section until you complete your sentence, and then transition your eyes to another person or section of the room.

12. Walk Side to Side, But Never Backwards – When you are speaking be sure to walk from one side of the stage or room to the other as you include people from both sides. You should also avoid walking backwards while you are talking or people may feel a disconnection.

13. Be Clear – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a room listening to someone and been completely lost or struggling to try to figure out what they are trying to say. Make sure you are speaking with crystal clear clarity and never use jargon, acronyms, and slang that people may not understand.

14. Provide an Overview and Summarize – Give people an overview at the beginning as to what you will be sharing, and then summarize what you’ve said when concluding your presentation. I always look to do this in a creative way, so the audience does not realize what I am doing.

15. Learn From Every Experience – Your goal should be to improve with each presentation you give. The best way to improve is to video tape your presentation. You will be amazed with what you see that you had no idea you were doing. If you can’t video tape yourself, at least audio record your presentation.

If you will implement these 15 tips when giving your next presentation, you will earn people’s respect and have influence with your audience. To learn how to structure your presentations, read my post titled, 10 Key Elements of a Persuasive Presentation.

Do you have tips you would like to share from your presentations?  If so, share them below this post.

The most important element to speaking in front of a group of people is to be prepared.

Leading without Authority, Title or Rank

The leaders of the future will be those people who others want to follow because they are liked and respected, not because of their authority, title, or rank. A real leader is not someone who only leads people under his or her position; it’s someone who leads everyone around them. This is referred to as … Continue reading Leading without Authority, Title or Rank

Leadership image3The leaders of the future will be those people who others want to follow because they are liked and respected, not because of their authority, title, or rank.

A real leader is not someone who only leads people under his or her position; it’s someone who leads everyone around them. This is referred to as 360-degree leadership.

If you are a salesperson, it’s leading your customers, colleagues, service people, and suppliers. If you are a rising employee, it’s leading your bosses and co-workers.

What is Leadership?

Leadership expert, Ken Blanchard said “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” He’s not alone in his thinking. John Maxwell, who has written more best selling books on leadership than any other author, said “Leadership is one word, Influence.“

Since writing my last lesson 3 years ago, I have spent more time learning about and watching leadership in action than at any point in my life. It has become clear to me that leadership is one word, “Influence” and the way to become a person of influence is two words: “Respect and Likability”.

If you want to be a person of influence, then people must like and respect you. If you want influence at home, your spouse and children must like and respect you. If you want influence at work, the people you work with must like and respect you.

Very few things will improve your value, self-esteem, and personal relationships more than doing the little things that positively impact how people feel about you.

Becoming Likable – It’s Not What You Think

Let’s start with being clear as to what defines “Likability”. So often people think to be likable they need to do things such as kissing butt, being extra cheerful, or other disingenuous (fake) things to “get” people to like them.

When people “try” to be liked, it actually hurts them. Not only does it hurt them because people can intuitively sense their lack of genuineness, but it also hurts their self-esteem, because they are not living with integrity. (I know a lot of adults living in depression for this very reason)

Here are the correct definitions of likability:

  • Easy to like
  • Having pleasant or appealing qualities
  • Being friendly
  • Having qualities that bring out a favorable regard
  • Being pleasant

If you question the importance of being likable to have influence, are you drawn to likable people? When given a choice between two equal candidates for a position, would you choose the person you like more? When hiring a painting contractor, realtor, or insurance agent, are you more likely to select the person you like most?

Becoming Respected – It’s More Than You Think

Every day you are sending hundreds of messages out to the world that play a role in how people see you and feel about you. Take a simple email as an example. Here are a few factors that people intuitively notice that impact your personal brand in their minds:

  • How soon it is returned
  • Did you address them by name
  • Were you friendly
  • Did you proof your email
  • Was it properly formatted
  • Was it clear and to the point
  • The overall tone of the email

Every interaction you have with people has multiple components, each impacting how others feel about you. If you are meeting people in a business setting, here are just a few of the factors people immediately notice:

  • Were you on time
  • Your appearance
  • How you greeted them
  • Were you friendly
  • Did you remember their name
  • Did you show an interest in them
  • Were you prepared
  • The clarity and tone with which you speak
  • Do you value the opinions of others
  • Do you listen without interrupting
  • Is your attention diverted to your mobile device

There are hundreds of little things you do each day that play a role in how people see you and feel about you that ultimately impacts the level of respect they have for you. If you don’t feel liked or respected by someone, there’s a 99% chance you’ve given him or her reason to feel that way about you.

My Challenge

Rather than looking at the little things you should and shouldn’t be doing, focus on the person you want to become. Examples include:

  • If you are a responsible person, you won’t need to focus on being on time or making sure you are prepared, because it’s who you are.
  • If you take pride in your written communications, you won’t need to make sure your emails are properly formatted and proofed, because that will happen automatically.
  • If you are a person who genuinely cares about others, you won’t have to be intentional about showing an interest in people, because it’s what you do anyway.
  • If you are person of integrity, you won’t need to do things to show you can be trusted, because people won’t question your integrity.

If you want to be a leader and person of influence, then focus on the person you need to become to be viewed in that regard. Start today becoming the person you need to be, so you can be the leader you want to be.

To lead people you must be a person of influence. To be a person of influence you must be someone people like and respect.