Be a Better Speaker

by Chris Widener,

At one point or another, those of us in business are called upon to do some public speaking. The way we present ourselves is important because it is representative of who we are, our Be a Better Speakercompetencies, and how people will view our businesses.

In doing speech-coaching I find that most people are initially concerned with adding things to their presentations, such as props or humor, or in developing techniques such as hand gestures.  The truth be known, the majority of people can improve their speaking skills dramatically simply by focusing on eliminating the negatives from their speaking before even thinking about adding anything else.

That said, here are some simple rules to help you improve your speaking skills and give you better presentations, and thus, better results in your business:

1. Keep it simple Speak naturally Make eye contact Don’t do crazy things with your hands

2. Be impassioned. No matter what you speak about, people want to know that you are excited about it. Now, don’t fake it, but let you passion for your business or product come through!

3. Balance the format of your information. Don’t try to cram too much into the presentation. Instead, when speaking, cover the basics and leave the details to a handouts that can be read later. Use a powerpoint slide or a few but don’t overdo it.

4. Manage the relationships beforehand.  If at all possible, get to know the people who will be listening to you prior to your presentation. This will give them a built-in trust of you and what you have to say.

5. Show, don’t tell. Show them with stories, examples and personal experience. Don’t just list facts.

6. Get rid of distracting idiosyncrasies. Ummms and Ahhhs have got to go. So does jingling coins in your pockets.

7. Know your material.  Nothing beats having the material down pat. If you do, it will cover a multitude of other problems that may arise.

8. Get the audience to participate at varying levels if effective.  You can use different methods, such as taking time to work alone or with a partner, feedback on certain points or questions and answers.

9. Don’t misinterpret people’s response and get discouraged.  You never know why a person may not be listening or get up and walk out. There are lots of reasons that have nothing to do with you or your speaking. Assume it is something else and keep on going!

10. And perhaps the most important – NEVER go longer than you are allotted! This is the quickest way to get everyone in the room to forget all the great things you just said. Quit on time!

If you found these tips from Chris Widener of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at


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