Tag Archives: public speaking

How you say it is IMPORTANT

I came upon a blog this morning and it is so good that I need to share some of its ideas with you. The blog was talking about how you can change the meaning of what you want to convey by changing the tone of your delivery.

Here is an example:

Take this six word sentence: I didn’t give them those documents.

Say it out loud six times with emphasis on each of the six words in bold:

I didn’t give them those documents.

didn’t give them those documents.

I didn’t give them those documents.

I didn’t give them those documents.

I didn’t give them those documents.

I didn’t give them those documents.

You have just conveyed six different messages with the same six words.

Visit my website for information on my book “Presentations that Work”.

Never tell your audience you are nervous!

Never apologize to an audience before you speak. Never say things like: “I am nervous about public speaking” or “I am new at this topic. So please bear with me.”  

Let’s face it: If you are truly nervous, the audience will soon find out. So telling them beforehand is nto going to help you.


The irony is that very often we feel a lot more nervous inside than it is shown outside. Even the best speakers feel a bit nervous before speaking but they don;t show it. Likewise, your audience may not even know that you are nervous. So why confess? Remember: We are often the harshest judge of our own performance.  

When you apologize at the outset by saying that you are new at the topic, you are telling your audience to expect a bad presentation. You are telling your audience not to listen to you. In fact, you are destroying your own credibility before you have a chance to demonstrate you have it. This is like going to battle and telling your enemy that you are weak and asking him to slaughter you. Does not make any sense at all.


There are more practical tips in my book.

How to overcome your fear of public speaking

nervous manIt is perfectly natural to feel a bit nervous before making a presentation. Even a seasoned professional may feel a butterfly in his/her stomach. There are two main reasons we feel nervous before we speak to a new audience. If we feel uncomfortable or are not very familiar with the subject at hand, we get nervous. We don’t know if we can handle a question from the audience.  If we don;t know the audience at all, we feel a bit unease.

The best way to deal with these two main causes is very simple. Learn your subject well and get to know the audience before your presentation. Make sure you know the subject as well as you know the back of your hand. Gather as much background information as possible about the subject so that your self confidence is high. You don’t include all your knowledge in your presentation. You keep it in your head.

Get to know your audience before you speak. Mingle with the crowd if possible. Engage in small talk with individual members of the audience. Once you have done that, the audience will cease to become “total strangers” to you and it will be easier for you to “have a conversation” with the audience when you are making your presentation.   

Why you should avoid bullet points

The beauty of not using bullet points is that it forces the presenter to “have a conversation” with the audience rather than a recitation or worse yet a reading of bullet points! The primary reason people use a bunch of bullet points on a single slide is that the bullet points act as reminders or crutches. They are security blankets. Without the bullet points, you have to know the topic and speak to it naturally. I always ask people this: “When was the last time you spoke to your friends in a social setting and both of you were reading off a deck of index cards?”

Long time ago I was at a seminar where this moron (presenter) actually got on the podium and read his bullet points from notes to the audience for one hour without ever looking up once. Actually it was worse than that. He started the presentation by syaing that he didn’t really know aything about the topic! The presentation was so bad that it was almost funny. If there had been a trap door underneath him, the lever would have been pulled 5 minutes into his recitation. Finally one fellow from the audience stood up and asked why he had to pay $1000 to listen to someone read his notes.

The moral of this story: If you do not know your topic well enough to speak from your heart, don’t speak. No need to tell your audience you don’t know anything about your topic. They will know soon enough!

Don’t let them see you sweat!

How to handle nervousness before and during your presentation?

First thing to remember: Don’t let them see you sweat.  The best antidote to nervousness is a combination of knowledge and preparation. If you know the topics being presented, you will be able to speak about it with confidence. If you have done your homework and have thought about the questions that might be asked of you at the presentation, you will be less nervous. It is common to have stage fright. Even accomplished public speakers feel that anxiety pang before getting on the podium. They have butterflies in their stomachs and sweaty hands – just like everybody else. The nervousness comes from a fear of the unknown – of not knowing how a group of strangers will react to their presentation. It is a very natural and normal response. All speakers have it. What sets the good speakers apart from the crowd is that they are able to manage or minimize that fear. Here are some practical ideas on how to do just that: 

  1. An effective way to overcome your nervousness is to think about the last time you accomplished something with great confidence. Relive that moment in your mind. Some people have found that if they “anchor” that feeling of confidence to some tangible action like tucking at their sleeves or holding onto a pointer, they can relive that same confidence moment during the presentation. 
  2.  Another very effective way to overcome stage fright is to get to know your audience. Try to learn as much as possible about your clients and their organization. At a minimum, get background information about the company. Find out what products it makes or service it provides. It is exactly like going to a job interview. You want to impress your future employer with your knowledge of his company. If you know the names of the people on the selection panel, Google them and find out more about them. The point here is to make yourself feel as comfortable as possible about the people to whom you are going to be presenting. It makes your future clients a little bit less like complete “total strangers” to you. This is the reason many successful public speakers make a point of mingling with the audience before getting up on the podium.

  3. Try to focus on the presentation and not on yourself. It is not all about you. Remember that your future clients are judging your presentation based on your knowledge and ability to answer their questions. They are not there to rate you as an orator.

  4. Establish and maintain eye contact with your clients. Speak to them as if they are your colleagues or friends.  The more “contacts” – both verbal and non-verbal – you have with your audience, the less they seem like “total strangers” to you.

  5. Remember that stage fright is most pronounced before you speak. It is a feeling generated by uncertainty. People who are not able to overcome their stage fright often believe erroneously that the fear they have before they speak will get worse once they get on the podium. The reverse is true. The butterflies in your stomach will fly away and your sweaty hands will dry up once you get into talking about topics that you know so well. Also remember that very often your audience will not even notice how you nervous you are. That’s why you don’t want to let them see you sweat! We are often a much harsher judge of our own performance.

 Note: This is an excerpt from Norman’s book “Connecting with Your Future Clients”.