13 Ways To Be A Great Public Speaker

Rehearsing your body language and getting proper rest are effective tactics for reducing public speaking anxiety and ensuring that you give a memorable presentation. Read on for a round-up of top public speaking tips from Stanford GSB faculty and guest speakers:

1. To manage anxiety, reframe the situation as a conversation rather than a performance. http://stnfd.biz/vJAix 

2. Set your goals at a reasonable level so you can overachieve. http://stnfd.biz/vJAjZ

3. Eat a healthy diet, get proper rest, and exercise to alleviate nervousness. http://stnfd.biz/vJAlX 

4. Diversify your material to keep people’s attention. http://stnfd.biz/vJAom

5. Use analogies to help your audience quickly process and understand new information. http://stnfd.biz/vJApw

6. Add emotion and variety to ensure people remember what they hear and see. http://stnfd.biz/vJAr7 

7. Make sure your content is relevant and easily accessible to your audience. http://stnfd.biz/vJAsS  

8. Add visuals to your slides. When you deliver information verbally, people only remember 10% of it. If you include a picture, retention is 65%. http://stnfd.biz/vJAuC

9. Spend more time rehearsing your body language than your speech. http://stnfd.biz/vJAwf 

10. Include a strong ending. Do you want people to stand when you finish? Or repeat a key takeaway? http://stnfd.biz/vJAxv

11. Practice your presentation beforehand to ensure your body language matches your message. http://stnfd.biz/vJAzh

12. Get to the venue early and imagine your body expanding to fill the room. Own the space. http://stnfd.biz/vJABs 

13. Keep your hand gestures symmetrical when you’re trying to be convincing. http://stnfd.biz/vJACJ 

Imagine everyone in their underwear. And imagine they’re in their underwear because a tornado just blew through the lecture hall, ripping everyone’s clothes off. But somehow, it left you clothed and unharmed. You stood strong and impervious while the ravishing winds spun around you— as if you were some sort of ‘chosen one’ inherently superior to all mankind. And now you stand before this room of lowly mortals, as a God. Go ahead, give your presentation.

PowerPoint vs. Prezi -- Many, Many Tips

I asked my students at elmhurst-college to send me articles they find online about Prezi and PowerPoint. The list is long and not meant to be read in totality. However, these are good links with good reminders.

Avoid “Death by PowerPoint”

Awesome Visuals



This Week on Great Talks

Susan CainThe Power of Introverts — TED (2012)

Susan unpacks the social myths surrounding introversion in this passionate and personal appeal.

Elizabeth GilbertYour Elusive Creative GeniusTED (2009)

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love shares her ideas about the nature of genius and how to manage the inherent emotional risks of creativity.

Bret VictorInventing on PrincipleCUSEC (2012)

Bret Victor explores his personal philosophy on making things by showing how to create new things based on your beliefs.

Mike MonteiroHow Designers Destroyed the WorldWebstock (2013)

Mike argues that designers are directly responsible for what they put into the world but don’t consider this impact enough.

Malcolm GladwellChoice, Happiness and Spaghetti SauceTED (2004)

Malcolm Gladwell describes the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce.

Merlin MannInbox ZeroGoogle Tech Talk (2007)

At Google, Merlin Mann details his philosophy on email and how to manage the competing priorities it introduces.

Max Temkin, Cards Against HumanityXOXO Festival (2013)

Max shares the origin of Cards Against Humanity and proves that you can make great things without knowing what you’re doing.

On a personal note, thanks for all of your support and submissions. More great talks coming very very soon. Submit your favorites here. Thanks to strle for giving me the idea for this post.

I have a 15 minute presentation this Wednesday. My topic is the issues surrounding agriculture and the lack of genetic diversity. I’m also 4 hours away from campus for a conference AND not feeling well — hence the menthol mist, it’s heavenly even if you’re not sick — luckily I’m in a nice hotel and I might just order myself room service instead of going to the networking dinner tomorrow night.

You’re a pretty monkey, and you know where all the bananas are.” That’s what I tell myself before I go on stage to hundreds or thousands of people. I really do. It makes me laugh and it calms me down. If that sounds too ridiculous, instead repeat to yourself something like: “I’m here because everyone wants to hear my story. I’m just a person on stage sharing lessons with other people. That’s all this is, and it’s going to be great.

An Introvert’s Guide to Better Presentations — Medium

Hint: This guide to public speaking is gold for us non-introverts too.

Planning decisions and activities when you are presenting

If you’re asking a group you’re presenting to do an activity, it’s important to decide in advance how the activity will work.

If you want your group’s input about the activity, plan in advance how you will solicit it. If you want them to choose a topic, plan in advance how that choice will happen. Just asking the group what they want isn’t enough. Things go much more smoothly when you plan the ways input and decisions will happen.

Some examples of how to do that:

  • "Break up into small groups. Your group can talk about either popsicles or hamburgers."
  • "There are two options. We can either talk about experiences with discrimination or tactics for countering it. Let’s vote. Raise your hand if you want to talk about experiences. Raise your hand if you want to talk about tactics."
  • You can also gauge which direction to go in by questions or comments your audience is making.

Don’t ask your group to make a complicated decision without support. Either make the decision in advance, or plan a straightforward way to make it in the moment with your group. Winging it is generally awkward and ineffective.


Last Week On Great Talks

Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking

Palmer tells stories about her generous community of fans and shows how much people want to help us if we just ask.

John Green, Thoughts on How To Make Things and Why

John talks ”broadly about being alive, and whether there’s a point to it, and whether that point is derived or constructed, and why we even bother to make things.”

Susan Kare, Iconographer

The icon designer for the original Macintosh talks about designing universal symbols and the history of computer iconography.

Lawrence Lessig, We the People, and the Republic We Must Reclaim

In his trademark style, lessig shows how corruption in politics is one of the most pressing issues we face in America and what hope we have to stop it.

Merlin Mann, Scared Shitless: How I Learned to Love Being Afraid of Pretty Much Everything

Merlin shares emotional stories from his life and from history to show us why fear isn’t always a bad thing.