30 Tips for Public Speaking Success

Miles Burke is the founder and MD of Australian-based employee pulse survey start-up, 6Q. Their mission is to make happier, more productive teams across the globe, and since March this year, they have been proudly building a diverse client base from technology start-ups to ASX listed public companies.
In this article, he shares his 30 Tips for Public Speaking Success. Enjoy!
By Miles Burke
miles-burke-tedxI remember my fear of public speaking a decade ago, and now with over 100 events behind me, I feel much more relaxed about taking the stage. Having said that, my main lesson is practice, practice and more practice.

I’ve spoken on a broad range of topics for a wide range of audiences; everything from careers in digital marketing to employee engagement for start-ups, however it all comes down to knowing your material and being ready for any situation.

Here are 30 public speaking tips I’ve learnt over my time

Preparing your slides

1. Ensure you understand your target audience

2. Understand your location – if you’re presenting overseas, localise the spelling and any cultural references

3. Write your talk as dot points first, and then sort them into a story. A great presentation has a natural flow about it.

4. Use web sourced images (think Flickr) but check licensing and ensure you credit the author

5. Use a standard font – not different fonts in different slides

6. Use images only to make a point, don’t just add images for fun

7. Simplicity really works – limited words make the audience concentrate on your speech

8. Spell check, spell check, spell check!

9. Reduce the dot points or words on a slide. Less is more. Keep it focused and sharp to the point.

Preparing for the day

10. Rehearse and time yourself – repeatedly

11. Backup, have a backup on USD drive, as slide presentation and as PDF, put a copy on somewhere like Dropbox or Google Drive as well.

12. Do you have a pet word you always end sentences with? Lose it!

13. Don’t leave the screen idle showing your desktop or file structure – make sure you have a title or blank screen for starting

On the day

14. Get in early and check your connection, slides, etc

15. Turn Twitter, IM, and any other alerts off before the presentation.

16. Start the presentation with a full battery, even if you have a power point.

17. Know who the time keeper is in the room, watch them for clues on the time remaining if you don’t know.

18. Make sure you take a bundle of business cards

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During your talk

19. Don’t open your presentation with ‘I hope you like this?’ – it sounds indecisive

20. Don’t use self-deprecating humour as an opener

21. Don’t say you’re nervous – it just highlights out any of your mistakes

22. Always speak to the audience, not the screen behind you

23. There’s nothing more annoying than umms and ahhs

24. Walk across stage and move, but don’t stand there and sway

25. Choose the right moment to take a drink of water

26. Time yourself – don’t ask the audience if you still have time.

After your talk

27. Network with the audience afterwards. They’re there to hear you, so they are interested

28. Ask others for tips on what you did well and what you could improve upon

29. Practice, Practice, Practice. Go give talks outside of your usual community or associates.

30. Ask the event organiser for feedback – ideally using LinkedIn or a written testimonial

Bonus content: see Miles’ presentation on How 6 Q Manages Feature Requests via Prezentt.


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