Why Do We Make Audiences Sit in the Dark?

Why turn down the lights? What follows is a rant. If you’re not in the mood, skip this post. You’re standing in the wings. You’re a speaker about to speak to an audience of 1,000 souls at a conference with all the bells and whistles that technology and a good staging company can provide: IMAG screens, lavalier mike, towering sound, theatrical lighting, you name it. You’ve even got stage makeup on. You’re… Read More

5 Essential, OBVIOUS, Basic Public Speaking Tips

Here are 5 essential public speaking tips that are so obvious you should be embarrassed if you’re not doing them already. 1.  Make eye contact.  That means picking individual members of the audience, talking to them just like you’re having a conversation, with the eye contact that naturally goes with that.  DON’T look over the audience’s heads. 2.  Know your audience.  That means understanding their issues, their concerns, their hopes and their… Read More

5 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Speakers

Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back from a little skiing, a little overeating, and a little doing nothing. The perfect holiday break, in short. Every year I publish a list of New Year’s Resolutions for speakers in an effort to get us all thinking early about how we can improve our presentations in the coming months. This year I’m focusing on storytelling. 1. I resolve to find the story in the data…. Read More

10 steps you can take right now to improve your presentations

Improving your presentation skills can be hard work. Changing behavior takes time. But there are some easy things you can do right now that will make a concrete difference in your presentation success rate. Some are physical, some are about a change in attitude. But they’re all practical, simple, and immediate. Get started now! 1. Lose the PowerPoint When you put up PowerPoint slides you ask the audience to look at 2… Read More

Bad Rules Never Seem to Die: the 5 Worst Ideas in Public Speaking

I first published this blog post 3 years ago, and I’m sorry to say I still see people following these 5 (bad) rules all the time.  Let’s stamp them out now!  With thanks to Susan Trivers who reminded me of it.    1.  “Tell ‘em what you’re going to say, say it, and tell ‘em what you said.”  This old chestnut is still widely believed.  It comes from WWII, when the Army… Read More