Boost your speaking prowess with 3 expert tips

Boost your speaking prowess with 3 expert tips

I have a hidden talent that I don’t think I’ve shared with anyone before. In fact, I am starting to realize that it is not so much a talent but a kind of superpower.

I have a knack for distinguishing between novice speakers and seasoned pros. How, you might wonder? Well, newcomers often pour all their energy into crafting the content of their speech while neglecting its context. You’ve likely witnessed it too, without fully realizing. I’m referring to the individual granted a 60-minute time slot armed with a 250-slide PowerPoint presentation. Far too often, individuals attempt to inundate their audience with an overload of information, akin to a verbal deluge. I call it “verbal vomit” – a misguided attempt to establish expertise by drowning listeners in data. They mistakenly believe that flooding the audience with information will enhance their credibility. I’ve even heard speakers commence their presentation with, “I have a lot of slides, but don’t worry, we’ll breeze through them.” Want to skyrocket your audience’s stress and anxiety levels? Utter those words!

It’s the misguided notion that “if a little is good, a lot is better”

Let me paint you a picture of what inevitably unfolds during that 60-minute speech. Around the 15-minute mark, the audience begins to feel like they’re drowning in an ocean of data. And let’s be honest – they are! Instead of delivering a speech that inspires change, they’re subjected to an hour-long data dump. Yikes!

Here’s a clue: If you glance away from your slides long enough to truly see the audience and all you observe are the tops of heads buried in notepads (or laptops for the tech-savvy), furiously scribbling notes in an attempt to keep up with the deluge of information you’re hurling their way, you’re missing the mark!

Indeed, the content of your speech holds undeniable significance. However, I posit that even more critical is the container in which that content resides—the CONTEXT of your speech. Allow me to illustrate this with an analogy. Imagine possessing the most pristine water on Earth, sourced from the legendary Fountain of Life. Now, picture yourself offering this extraordinary water to others, pouring it from a pitcher riddled with cracks, leaking profusely. As you pour, all attention shifts to the flaws in the vessel, overshadowing the allure of the water within. Why settle for such a discrepancy? If what you’re offering is truly remarkable, why not invest the extra effort to present it in a container that befits its excellence? Context matters.

Consider another scenario: You’re in the audience, eagerly awaiting enlightenment. Suddenly, the speaker takes the stage, and you realize their fly is down. In that moment, are you truly engaged with their message, or are you consumed by a sense of distraction and embarrassment? Regardless of the brilliance of their content, your focus shifts away from their words to the glaring mishap. This underscores the profound influence of context on audience attention.

In essence, the context in which a message is delivered significantly impacts its reception. Just as a cracked pitcher detracts from the appeal of pristine water, distractions like an unzipped fly can overshadow the substance of a speech. Thus, ensuring an appropriate context is paramount in effectively conveying your message.

So, how do you ensure you wield control over the context?

Well, there are numerous strategies, but here are my top three that I meticulously employ every time I take the stage:

1. Setting the Stage: While you may not always have full control over the seating arrangement, especially in certain venues, there’s often room for adjustment, particularly if you’re speaking to smaller groups or in more flexible environments. When I step into a new space, whether it’s an office or a training session, and find the seats arranged in a less-than-ideal format, I seize the opportunity to reconfigure them. Why? Because I want the seating arrangement to complement my presentation style and enhance the overall context.

2. Musical Ambiance: I incorporate music into my presentations to set the tone and establish the desired atmosphere. It’s like adding seasoning to a dish—it enhances the flavor and brings the whole experience to life. By selecting music that resonates with me and infuses energy into the room, I effectively enhance the context of my message.

3. Strategic Introduction: Instead of launching into a mundane recitation of my credentials—where I went to school, my past leadership roles, etc.—I craft my introduction to set the stage for what’s to come. Rather than inundating the audience with a laundry list of achievements, I focus on articulating why they should pay attention to me, what makes this particular moment unique, and what they can expect from the presentation. It’s about priming their expectations and inviting them to embark on a journey of discovery with me, rather than simply flaunting my accolades.

By implementing these tactics, I ensure that the context surrounding my message is finely tuned to maximize its impact and resonance with the audience.

I once came across the saying, “State is more important than script.” It resonated deeply because it underscores the significance of your physical and energetic presence in effecting real change. Here’s a point I urge you to deeply consider as you prepare for your upcoming speech or presentation: nobody has ever experienced transformation solely through data or logic. It is the emotion that drives change and facilitates transformation. Emotion is the catalyst for meaningful shifts; logic alone cannot achieve this.

To forge an emotional connection with your audience, you must create an environment conducive to their receptivity. This entails prioritizing the context over the content. By setting the stage effectively, you pave the way for emotional resonance and genuine connection with your audience.

Proactive, Productive and Profitable,


PS: Head on over to my Facebook group called “Command the Room”. It’s a group dedicated to helping like minded speakers improve their craft.

PPS: I save audiences from boring speeches by helping speakers make a lasting impact. 🤝