I play guitar, and I remember how hard it was to learn simple tricks like a hammer on. I sat alone for hours plunking on my guitar. If you asked me to play in front of even one person, it was a hard no! Years later and I’m still uncomfortable playing and singing in front of strangers. My point is that anybody who plays an instrument knows how much effort it takes to learn that instrument. You sit alone for hours, practicing; of course, you might agree that it works the same for anything. If you want to learn math then you start by counting bananas 1, 2... if you learn a new language then your first step isn’t entering a speech contest.
Then why is it that you are expected to learn public speaking in front of an audience?
Students are expected to present in front of classmates with ZERO formal training.
That’s crazy because students grow up fearing things like interviews, sales, wedding speeches, and funerals. Fearful speakers avoid negotiating more pay, pushing for promotions, or landing a hot date. What blows my mind is that so many people think public speaking happens in front of an audience. It doesn’t, it happens every time you speak out loud. Technically, if you have public speaking anxiety then you would avoid speaking to family and friends.
Lucky you, I'm about to break
down 10 public speaking tips everybody should know. My hope is that you
participate in the speaking exercises and enhance your journey as a leader. Learning to be an
effective public speaker doesn’t require going out of your way to learn. You
simply practice new ideas as you speak to the people you already talk to; you’re going to
have that conversation anyway.
Each secret is as important as the last.
Speaker Secret #1: Catch Your Breath
Common sense, right?
Well, you wouldn’t believe how many speakers hold their breath when they are scared. You can tell when a speaker’s mind goes blank, or if you hear a speaker's voice cracking, that their holding their breathe. When I see this happening I always say, “Take a deep breath, common, breathe in, hold it, and breathe out through your mouth.”
I had this one student, smart kid, wealthy, raised with the best coaches in everything. You would think he'd be pretty confident. I picked him out of a group, brought him on stage and promptly asked, “Doug, what is something that makes you lose track of time?”
He was supposed to answer the question using the WIMPS formula we just talked about.
I saw him gasp, and then
stand with a thousand-yard stare. He froze, and I’ve seen this hundreds of times,
so I said, “Breathe with me, breathe in, fill those lungs.” I breathed in heavy
and he took a deep breath. I said, “Now push it out with power.” He did, but he
was in so much shock he put the audience into shock. I had to tell us all to
keep breathing. Finally, I said, “On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the no fear and
10 being scared to death, how scared are you right now?”
“TEN!” He shouted as if
he were 100 years away from me.
exercises as you go about your day.
Breathing is your most
powerful weapon when it comes to influencing others. In my book; The 30 Second
Friend, I tell the story about the time I learned a breathing trick (pace
others breathing). I laid beside my wife as she slept. I breathed at the same
rate she did for at least 8 minutes. Then, I started breathing deeper and my wife’s
breathing went deeper. I was shocked so I started breathing shallow and after
doing this for a few nights in a row I was almost able to wake my wife out of
her sleep! She snorted and rolled over. I was controlling someone else’s
breathing simply by breathing along with her.
Get in the habit of
watching people breathe, watch their shoulders, be discrete, breathe along with
babies and pets. Get good at pacing peoples breathing, and then lead them
somewhere else WITHOUT saying a word. You can make an angry person calm down,
or raise the energy of a lazy person, all with your breathing.
If you don’t believe me
then you are the perfect target for advertising.
Take a deep breath in through your nose using your belly, and as you breathe out focus on belly breathing as you count to 10. When you get to 10 make sure you are out of breath.
Now, do the exercise again and this time count to 20. Speak at a steady pace and make sure you use all your breath.
Do the exercise again and count 50.
When you are walking, or
in the shower practice this exercise.
How will it pay
When you are in front of
an audience, you want your breathing to be paced like that of a saxophone
player. Sometimes you want to breathe fast and get that story out, sometimes
you want to breathe slow for the melody. Incorporating purposeful song like
breathing while you speak will unconsciously put you in control.
Fact: when audiences laugh together, they breathe together.
It’s called rapport; a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well.
Speaker Secret #2: Vocal Variety Is Your
Now that you know how to breathe you will sound like a professional, correct?
Almost, you have the start to a harmonic voice. You must practice vocal variety to sound like a pro. You must articulate your words. You must speak slowly and quickly. You have to know when to make a command and when to ask a question.
Say the following phrase out loud, as it is written.
You must take action now?
Does that sound
confident? I hope not, yet many speakers who are nervous end on a high note and
kill any hopes of influence. I’ve made this mistake many times while asking
girls on a date. I was scared so I said, “I really like YOU?”
They were like, “What? Nice try, friend!”
Be confident with your breathing so that you can be confident with your voice when it matters most.
Let’s put our breathing
and voice into action. Here is a vocal warmup I do with my students. Do it now,
wherever you are. Hopefully you in a public place because you’ll realize that
you can do this in public and nobody cares, especially if you live in the city.
I get the people around me to do it with me. They love it or hate it. I enjoy
both responses. You can free up a lot of mind space when you stop worrying about
judgment and start thinking about public speaking improvement.
Yawn. Bigger Yawn
Warm-up our lips, bppppppppppppppppppppppp
Tongue, push out and in.
Say, “Yayayayayayayaya” while you pull your chin.
Head roll, head roll the other way.
Say: YayayayaYEE, yayayayaYOU, yayayayaYAY, yayayayaYO.
If Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, a peck of pickled peppers peter picked. If peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, how many peppers did peter piper pick?
I get asked this question a lot.
What to do if I am a naturally
I get a lot of quiet
talkers. We do an exercise where I stand close so I can hear them, and then I
back up and make them talk louder. Then I back up more and more. We do this
public speaking exercise 10 times over three weeks and 90% of the time a
speaker will speak louder just to get me off their back.
Here is a trick that you
can do from home to test your speaking range. Set your phone on the table with
voice record on. Talk normal from a few feet away, just ramble something. Then back
up few feet and do it again. Tell a story about your favorite childhood memory.
Back up three more feet until you get 20 feet or further from the phone. You’ll
hear how hard it is to hear yourself. You have to raise your voice.
Speak up, people will
thank you for it.
Look at the following
faces and guess what emotion they are feeling.
If you guessed angry, happy, and sad then it’s obvious what these faces are saying. Yet so many speakers get on stage and don’t even crack a smile. What are they saying with their face?
Smile. think about it, you smile when you meet a friend, correct? And you want the audience to be your friend, right?
Eye contact. You make eye contact for one reason:
Energy. If you are the speaker then you set the bar with your energy. Even if you don’t say it, the audience FEELS your energy.
One mistake many speakers make is they wear their heart on their sleeve. If their having a bad day, or they didn’t “prepare” well enough, they tell the audience.
Never tell the audience you didn't prepare or you're nervous. They'll figure it out on their own, OR maybe not. And don’t lie either: alter your state, change the channel, get into the zone, put a smile on your face.
The easiest way to change
the channel is to raise your frequency. I like to imagine an energy dial nice
and big in my mind. If my energy is low then I imagine spinning that dial up, up,
and up, until a white light beams through you.
I can raise my energy
right now and so can you. Do it, just for fun. Imagine yourself running super-fast,
lifting a house, jumping over the moon. Feel it.
When you speak to people
you want to say the same thing with your face as you do with your words, and
body. People rarely enjoy your company when you say a different thing with your
face and body, then you do with your words. Have you ever met someone who
slouches toward you, their head is down, and bags under their eyes? You say,
“How is it going today?”
“It’s really good,” they
slowly respond while looking down at the floor.
But does it look like
‘it’s really good?’
Watch an influential YouTuber who does a lot of closeup shots and turn the sound off. My bet is that you’ll almost know what the YouTuber is saying.
When you speak people read your lips, watch your face, and study your body language. If any element is out of align then you send mixed messages. You lose trust. Most people will have no clue why they don’t like you. They just don’t, and it’s not their job to know. It’s your job to know because you are the expert communicator. You are a biofeedback unit of everybody you talk to. If they are down, then you go there and bring them back. If you are down, then go there and bring yourself back. Get in the zone.
Public speaking practice
I’ve spent hours
watching YouTube, TED talks, and news anchors with the sound off. Unlike YouTubers, news anchors use little facial gesturing, BUT, watch them blink and
you’ll be able to tell if they’re comfortable with the subject. TED Talkers
vary and here is a fun fact: there are TED Talks about TED Talks, and one
of the TED Talks talk about the number of hand gestures the most viral TED Talkers
use. It's something like 465 hand gestures in an 18-minute talk!
The least viral speakers
used 250 or less hand gestures.
But we are talking about
Yes, the most viral Ted
Talkers also use exaggerated facial gestures. Their body language matches their
facial gestures and words.
My point is that every
word and action matters.
You would think every
TED Talker would want to know what made other speakers go extremely viral. They could do
the same and increase their chance of going extremely viral.
I’m going to pull a
slide out of my training program, and I want you to go along the slide and make
the same gestures, in the same way as the person in the picture.
Next time you are telling a story
make your words match your voice, match your facial gestures.
There is an old saying that goes, “Speak with purpose!” When you speak with purpose you send the same
message with your entire body as you do with your words.
Okay, so you have your breathing down, your voice flows like a song, your face says the same thing your words do. Now, what do we do with the rest of our body?
Let’s start with our hands. And
before we go on, there is one class of speaker who is exempt from some of these
Comedians deliver punchlines and sometimes those lines get bigger laughs when you have no expression.
Most people who want to learn public
speaking do it to share information or inspiration. I suggest learning a bit about humour. Google jokes and write out the good ones. Then, buy the book called Comedy Made Easy by David Lovett. In that
book there are 125 joke templates that you can use to beef up your funny.
That being said, some of the
biggest names in comedy use an insane amount of body language and hand
gestures. When I think comedian who uses big gestures, I think, Kevin Hart.
Your hands are a tool. Comedians
can keep their tool tucked away in his or her pockets, but you can’t. You have
to pop your hands out and use them. You have to practice using your hands to
explain every single point you are making. While you read, think about how you
would explain these words using your hands. Here are three tips to using your
1. Work with both hands together
2. When your hands go up your energy goes up
3. Practice standing in power poses between gesturing
Imagine holding a basketball, and while holding the ball move it to your right. Now left. Bring the ball back to center and move your hands around the ball as you read. Put the ball above your head, and now put it down low.
The point of the exercise is to keep
your hands working together. It’s not one hand in my pocket and the other one
fist pumping. It’s two hands fist pumping or two hands in my pocket. Again, if
you want to see the difference watch a speaker with the sound off (or take my mini
course). Find a speaker who speaks with one hand and without the sound you’ll
get a partial message. Now, find a speaker who speaks with both hands working
together and you’ll almost know what they’re saying without hearing a word. At
the very least you’ll know what they’re feeling.
Look at the following picture and
notice how the hands are working at the same level. The only pose different is
the thinking pose; but then again, we know what the body is doing.
A great book to read on body language is Winning Body Language by Mark Bowden. The takeaway message for me was about what your hands say when held at different heights. For example; when your hands are to your side, you’re telling people to go to sleep. When your hands are around waist level you are suggesting supreme confidence. When your hands are at or above shoulder height you are in the excited posture. You are suggesting maximum energy.
When your hands go up your energy goes up and your voice goes up.
Do this: pretend to hold that ball again, hold it at chest level and say, “I am funny.”
Now, hold it at head level and say, “I am funny.”
Now, hold it above your head and say, “I’m funny.”
You may not notice it,
but your voice and energy go up when your hands go up. This is important if
you’re looking to inspire people because you have to set the bar as a
communicator. You have to show people where you want them to go, and how to get
there using the road of least resistance.
Experience shows that
the path of least resistance is to show rather than tell.
Practice power poses
Great communicators move between powerful stances, and vulnerable stances.
There is a time when you want to have your hands crossed in front of you, and
there is a time when your hands are tucked away in your pockets. Practice
moving between different power poses (hands above head, hands on hips, fingertips touching in front of belly button, hands clasped behind back, arms crossed) while having conversations with friends
and family. Do this consciously for a few weeks. Consciously sit and stand straight.
In summary; work with
both hands together, when your hands go up your energy goes up, practice
standing in power poses between gesturing. In fact, practice a power pose right
now. While sitting or standing put your hands behind your head and lock your
fingers. Hold it for one minute.
The easiest way to help
someone overcome a fear of public speaking is to give them structure. You give
them a template, they fill in the blanks and BAM, they enjoy public speaking. I
have speech structures for impromptu speaking all the way up to keynote
Here is the most popular
speech template in the world.
Point 1 __________
Point 2 __________
Point 3 __________
Point 1 (yes, repeat the point)+ supporting story
Point 2 + supporting story
Point 3 + supporting story
Brainstorm. I start all students off by writing an
icebreaker speech. We do a mind map; you put your name in the middle of the
paper and then branch off as many points about you as you can think of. Include
hobbies, where you’re from, your childhood, greatest accomplishments, greatest
fears, milestones, dreams, and keep on going. It’s amazing what memories come
What blows my mind is
how many students young and old can only come up with 10 things or less! The reason is often because they don’t want to sound braggy, or they don’t
know what to say about themselves. As a rule of thumb get comfortable talking about you. All the great leaders do it. How you encourage you, is how you encourage those around you.
Here is a screenshot of my icebreaker example mind map:
Do this: make a mind map
for yourself. If you’ve done it before then do it again. I’ve done this
exercise hundreds of times.
Pro speaker tip: do research in the brainstorming phase of your speech. It'll save you on the amount of speech rewrites. Research facts, little known facts, fables, jokes, and stories related to your topic.
Even if you have an upcoming Keynote you might be the expert, but what else is going on in your industry? Who are the biggest hoaxes, what weird science is happening? Who has the biggest objections and what are they saying?
If you have a wedding or funeral speech coming up, then brainstorm everything you know about the person you are talking about. Spend a few days remembering all the stories you can. Then, research jokes or other speeches. The internet is littered with good, bad, and ugly speeches. A mistake many speakers make is they avoid watching other speakers. I had a student; April, and she didn’t like watching speakers because they intimidated her. That’s not a very helpful way of framing public speaking. I helped her see things differently as we learned to watch speakers with purpose.
Make your three points.
I’ll show you how to do this by writing a speech about my online training program.
Introduction: Hello and welcome, my speaker training program is the best in it's class and here is why:
1. I have 7 speech templates in my arsenal, and every one of them is amazing
2. Speakers experience massive results
Speakers get step-by-step
I have 7 speech
templates in my arsenal, and every one of them is amazing. When I joined Toastmasters International in 2010, I received a workbook
with 10 speeches to complete. There were speeches on vocal variety, getting to
the point, motivating the audience, and more. What blew my mind was the lack of
speech templates. Yes, they suggested using 3-points, but they never made you
do it. My mentor tried to get me to one but I needed force. I bombed speeches for one year before properly implementing the 3-Point
Speech structure. I wanted to
speed the process up for others. I couldn’t do it under the Toastmasters brand so I went out on my own. I’m very happy I did. You must always listen to your
heart, gut, and mind. I force students to write a 3-point speech right away. All my students rock the stage!
massive results. William was a young man who joined a public speaking class and
I noticed talent. He had zero speaking experience, but I encouraged him to
enter an international speaking competition that was to take place in 2 months.
We practiced 4 hours/week and he got selected for semi-finals, and then finals.
I knew he could win but I had to get him maximum confident, so I took him out
on the sidewalk and made him practice his speech with people around. He didn’t
like that but when it came to him speaking in front of 6 judges and 150 people,
he beat out a two-time international speaking champion for first place. Listen
up, you may not want to enter a speaking competition, but you could! You could
also present better at work, share a story at a wedding/ funeral, or family
dinner. You might want to be a keynote speaker. You will make more money.
3. Speakers get step-by-step training. Remember how I said that I wanted to speed up the learning process for others? Well, first, I had to become a great speaker. Second, I had to spend loads of time and money figuring out the speaking industry. Third, I had to create the content. Luckily, my day job is my career so I write step-by-step public speaking course material, and use it to train students/adults/kids. When Covid-19 hit I moved business online and it’s been awesome. Who knew you could train public speakers online, on their own time, from the comfort of their home?
Sometimes the best things come out of the worst situations.
In summary, I’m using this moment to push my speaker course for three reasons: I have incredible speech templates, I’ve seen massive results with students, and I want to show you the simple steps to be a highly effective speaker. You can boost sales, careers, and confidence.
I’ll break down the 3-point speech one more time because I’m a nice guy and I wish EVERYBODY knew these speech structures. You wouldn’t believe how many weddings I’ve been to where this structure would have saved the day!
It’s very simple. Here is the slide from my course.
Speaker Secret #6: Get to The Point
Nothing is worse than a long-winded speaker. Here are my Top 10 Ways to Get to The Point
1. Avoid stories that include a long backstory.
2. Avoid details. Only include story highlights.
3. Time yourself- 2-minute stories without a point/moral/lesson/laugh, is a looooooong story. Too long.
4. Record yourself and then listen to the recording. If you’re bored the audience is bored.
5. Build stories up to a climax and then say, “My point/moral/lesson is."
6. If you can replace a story with a fable, then do it.
7. Insert jokes or lessons into stories. You can be telling a story and then say, “I’m reminded of a joke…”
8. If the story doesn’t directly relate to your message, avoid using it.
9. If you're speaking at a wedding, stick to the 3-point speech even if you have 4 amazing stories. The audience will thank you for it. Save the last story for an open mic if there is one.
10. Think about the audience,
what’s in it for them?
Abolish negative thinking and break the chains of your fear. Today you will enhance your life and go to the next level. You are connected to universal life force energy. You were designed for greatness.
My wife calls it preaching, but speakers are preachers. You want the audience to learn something so put them into the picture; replace I with YOU. The problem I find with speakers is they insert powerful YOU statements into their speeches and then they read them with little energy. Take the following slide. It's a slide I make students read first with no energy, and second with as much energy as possible. I’m talking like almost yelling, put your hands up at shoulder height and put all might into the words. Record yourself reading both ways I can guarantee you that you will FEEL THE DIFFERENCE.
I get into arguments
with students because they read the words plainly, so I stop them. I say, “I
don’t believe you. Read these words like these are the most powerful words on
the planet! Do it again.”
I make speakers read the
same sentence over and over until they get so mad, they yell out the words in
“Bam,” I say. “I believe you!”
Those speakers change
forever because they broke a barrier, and picked up new public speaking skills!
One day I read an
article in my news feed about researchers who studied comedians. One of the
takeaway lessons was how a comedian handles comedic risk.
Comedic risk: the risk involved when telling a joke or doing something that you're not sure is funny or not.
You see, in a normal human life, a kid tells a joke that doesn’t make anybody laugh, and they think that went horrible. Now, let’s say a kid repeated 10 jokes over time, and 9 of them went bad. In my experience, two things happen next: one, they stop telling jokes and two, they make excuses like, “I can’t remember jokes.” This goes all the way into adulting.
professional speaker once paid me a compliment on one of my jokes before
mentioning she doesn't tell jokes. She said, “I find humor in the
thought it was too bad because there is an easy way to be funny on
purpose. You have to think like a comedian. When a comedian
takes a comedic risk and it bombs. They barely notice as they move along to the
next joke. What stops you from doing the same?
Joking aside, you wouldn’t believe how many adults have a fear of public speaking
because they bombed one “important” speech in high school.
For the record, I’ve
bombed hundreds of speeches. I once brought a live potted flower in front of
an audience and pretended that I was a plant psychologist. As I talked to that plant 20 people watched and nobody laughed. I still did the whole bit,
5 minutes of people begging me to get off the stage.
Life goes on as you learn the art of public speaking.
made being funny on purpose a part of my training, and one of the lessons is
The best way to start
using exaggeration as a humor tool is to use similes/metaphors/comparisons.
One speaker talked about
meeting Kobe Bryant. She said, “He was as tall as a mountain!”
Another speaker talked
about getting coronavirus, she said, “Getting coronavirus is like being a fish
out of water!”
My challenge to you is to practice exaggerating everything for a couple of days.
A few examples from my last 10 hours:
When I left for groceries I shouted to my wife, “Okay, I’ll see you in two days!”
When I picked up the French Bulldog I said, “Geez Hercules, what are you weighing in at, 200 pounds?”
When my wife asked me how much I spent on an advertising book. I said, “1.99 US (dramatic pause) so like 17 dollars Canadian!”
When I put the trash just out the patio door I said to my wife, “Don’t worry, I’ll take it to the bin tomorrow. Or the next day!”
Exaggeration is the easiest way to add entertainment to your speech.
Give it a go, and if it
doesn’t work then excellent! Go again. Do it 10 times until you can do it on purpose. You never know when you need to access this skill while speaking.
Speaker Secret #9: Talk to The Senses
I recently wrote a blog on how to tell better stories. I follow a 10 step story telling method and the stories that students produce are mind blowing. Some stories are fictional like the one about the thief who got mixed up with a love interest who was a cop.
I’ve heard stories about butterflies, Covid-19, new beginnings, losing a friend, and you name it. Take a look at the infographic example and see what kind of a story you can come up with.
Note: the story I wrote is far from life changing, my punchline hasn’t made one student laugh yet! BUT remember; bomb, and move on.
The point is that you
talk to the senses of feeling, hearing, seeing, and olfactory.
In summary, every story should activate the senses and always include dialogue.
Avoid saying, “Dorothy was so mad!”
Say, “Dorothy was fuming
when she ran to me and screaming, ‘You’re going to regret this decision!’”
When you add dialogue, you add spice to your stories.
I like to call it stealing juice. You use other people’s credentials to make your point, or if you’re writing a speech for a wedding or funeral (god bless) then audiences love hearing things that person said.
When my aunt passed my
uncle asked me to speak. I was honored, I went to work on a mind map and
remembered a joke my aunt told me as a kid. I was somewhere around 13, my mom
dropped me off for a visit, and when my aunt pulled up, she said (and I can
hear her voice) “I heard a joke earlier, but it has kind of a bad word in it.
Would you like to hear it anyway?”
“Yes,” my little sister
and I nodded.
“Well, there were these
two southern belles and they hadn’t seen each other in a long time so when they
got together, they had to catch up. One bell said to the other, “Oh my
goodness, it’s been so long since we last saw each other. My life has been so
good. After my husband graduated, he became a partner in a big law firm, and we
bought this huge house with a football field sized lawn and grand staircase.”
“That’s nice, that’s
fine,” said the other lady.
“Gosh darn, and then my
husband landed a million-dollar deal and he bought me this HUGE diamond ring
and matching earrings. Aren’t they just darling?”
“That’s nice, that’s fine,”
said the other lady.
“And for our 10-year anniversary
I came home and there was a Rolls Royce sitting in the driveway with a bow
around it, can you believe it?”
That’s nice, that's
fine,” said the other lady.
“Oh, we’ve been talking
about my husband so much. What has your husband done for you?”
“My husband sent me to
“Finishing school, what
do you learn at finishing school?
“How to say that's nice,
that’s fine. Instead of, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT!”
I was nervous to tell a
joke at a funeral, so I wrote it on a piece of paper. Regardless, the joke went
well, and I retell that joke all the time.
I always quote my aunt
when I tell this joke because she makes the joke better. I have many people I
quote from students to speaking giants.
In summary, I hope you
enjoyed this top 10 list of speaking tips. Download a copy of this lesson and
practice them to overcome any anxiety about public. If you enjoy these tips
then you are invited to check out my online course. I’ll be hanging out there answering
questions and keeping you happy!
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou