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15 Presentation & Public Speaking Tips that Rock

Pulizzi-Stage-3-279x230This year alone, I’ll do over 40 public speeches and keynotes and another 50 online presentations by webinar or webcast.  Since 2007, I’ve presented well over 300 times in-person or online.

I’ve also had to sit through another thousand presentations by other individuals over that time.  Not that I’m perfect by any means, but I honestly don’t wish that on anyone.

After my blog and my books, public speaking events have probably led more to growing the business than anything else I’ve done.  Below are some of my presentation speaking tips that I try to integrate into every presentation I do (in no particular order).  I hope they are helpful to you.

  1. Put your Twitter name on every slide.  Even at the least social media savvy events, there are always multiple people tweeting. Putting your Twitter handle at the beginning of the slide deck usually doesn’t do the trick (what if someone comes into the room late?).  Since I’ve added my Twitter handle to every slide, tweets have more than doubled.  What a great way to expand the reach of your message.
  2. Be prepared with Tweetable messages. I learned from my friend Jay Baer to come prepared with Tweetable sayings.  It’s best practice to put them on the slide (no more than 140 characters) and repeat them at least twice for maximum impact.
  3. Pre-promote your speech using the event hashtag. The day before and the morning before your presentation, be sure to let people know you are speaking, what you are speaking on, and what time using the event Twitter hashtag (like #cmworld).  I can’t tell you how many more people I get to my speeches who are undecided with which session to attend.
  4. Never more than 20 words on a slide. If people have to read your slide, you’ll lose them.  Use headlines and text to cue your stories, and pictures to amplify your point. My goal is to someday take the advice of Seth Godin and have all my slides with no words…just pictures.
  5. If you use words, make them at least 30 point size or larger.  If you do have text on a slide, make sure it’s actually readable. 30 point is the smallest I would go.
  6. Don’t stand behind the podium. A podium places an unnecessary barrier between you and your audience.  Talk with the audience, not at them.
  7. It’s okay to walk around. You’re a human…you have legs…use them.  Find a few spots on the stage where you can walk back and forth.  Hold your spots for five seconds and move to the next spot.  Every time you start on a new topic, move.
  8. Get a speaking wardrobe. In order to be remembered, you need to use everything at your disposal.  A wardrobe is key.  Find something that people will remember.  I personally always wear an orange shirt.  I haven’t done a presentation in five years without an orange shirt.  People expect it and always comment on it.  My friend Mari Smith uses turquoise and sometimes decorates the stage and seating area with special turquoise items.  People always remember Mari, in part because she puts on a great show.  When people see that color somewhere else, they think of Mari.
  9. Smile a lot. It’s contagious.  Always start the presentation with a big smile and set cues for yourself to smile at least every five minutes.  The more people smile, the more positive they will be in general (and with your reviews). It also helps to keep people awake.
  10. Use short links as calls to action. In every slide presentation, I include a number of short links for people to get additional information about something I’m discussing.  In the last three presentations, I’ve had 189 people download items directly from the presentation.  I use links to track the content.
  11. Give away something for participation.  I almost always give a signed copy of my book away to reward participation.  It helps with questions later and always gets you talking with someone after the presentation (to deliver the book).  That encourages more questions and opportunities to network.  This tactic has delivered two new customers over the years.
  12. Have one main call to action for the presentation.  You want the attendees to do something, right?  Don’t give them too many options.  Give them one thing you really want people to do from each presentation and include a coupon code or short link to track it.
  13. Use lists. Most of my speaking and presentation titles include numbers in the titles…”8 Content Marketing Tips to Initiate Now”…”6 Keys that Separate Good to Great Content Marketing”.  My friend and colleague Michael Weiss says that you should use three (a number which, according to Michael, carries significance in speeches).  Either way, numbers keep people focused on where you are at in the presentation.
  14. Switch the flow and tell a story every eight minutes.  Your audience can only pay attention for so long.  Every few minutes, stop the flow of your presentation by pausing and telling a somewhat related story to your point.  They will remember the stories the most, which will keep them engaged and help drive your overall mission for the speech.
  15. Take heed from Aristotle.  When I first started teaching public speaking, I always used Aristotle’s advice on speeches:  Tell them what you are going to tell them (the intro), Tell them (the body), Tell them what you just told them (the conclusion).  Much of public speaking and getting things to stick is repetition.  This type of setup does the trick.

What additional tips have made you successful?