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Practical Tips for Delivering a Great Speech or Presentation – Part 2

Here Part 2 of the list from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

  • The iPhone and other smartphones have good apps for practicing a speech or presentation. Use it!
  • Write the word, “pause” in your speech or presentation notes where you want to slow your speech for a dramatic effect. This will serve as a reminder for you. Be comfortable with the silence.
  • Most professional speakers use vocal exercises to warm up their voices beforehand. There are many techniques you can use, so find one you like and try it. You don’t need to be a professional speaker to benefit from these exercises.
  • There is an old bit of advice out there that says a speaker who is nervous about looking people in the eyes should focus on the foreheads of the people in the audience. That might work with a large audience, but in a small- er room, I can usually tell when a speaker is doing this. I find it distracting. You want to connect with your audience by establish- ing direct eye contact.
  • Use a video camera to record and then critique yourself while watching on your computer screen

Practical Tips for Delivering a Great Speech or Presentation – Part 1

Here are 6 tips from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

  • How you say it is as important as what you say. Great leaders in business, law, politics, technology, nonprofits, education, government, or healthcare are great public speakers. Think of great leaders from history. How many of your memories about these people involve them delivering a great speech?
  • Your ability to speak well in front of others will have a significant impact on your career. You should practice expressing your ideas clearly and concisely.
  • “Practice is to public speaking as oxygen is to life; without the first, you will surely perish.”
  • Words have power and well-spoken words have a lot of power.
  • Too many words turn a good speech or presentation bad.
  • A person’s average speaking rate is approximately 120 to150 words per minute. Determine your own speaking rate, so you know how much content to develop given the amount of time you have to speak.

Dress Rules for the Workplace


  • If you wear it to the beach, don’t wear it to work.
  • If you wear it to the bar on Saturday night, don’t wear it in the of ce.
  • Cheap suits are easy to spot. Make an investment in a well- tted suit. A modestly priced suit can be tailored to t well making it appear to be much higher quality.
  • If it’s in Vogue or Details, it’s probably not appropriate for the office– unless you work in the fashion industry.
  • Be current in style and age appropriate in your choices. Your business dress should be noticed for the right reasons and quickly forgotten.
  • Avoid sloppiness, rips, and stains in any type of clothing and shoes.
  • Don’t wear a more expensive watch or carry a more expensive handbag than your boss. It sends the wrong message- i.e., “I don’t need this job.”

Practice Your Delivery of a Speech or Presentation

Practicing a speech or presentation is the key. Here four tips for improving your delivery.

  • Practice a full-length speech using a video recorder at least ten to twenty times. How many times should you practice? The answer is simple: As many times as it takes to master your content.
  • Ask someone to count the “ums,” “ahs,” and “likes” you use. These are filler words and they can kill a good speech. Be comfortable with the sound of silence. Or, use a video/voice recorder and count the filler words. You may be surprised.
  • Visualize your audience and the room in which you will de- liver your speech.
  • Prepare for possible interruptions and distractions such as a ringing cell phone, a microphone or PowerPoint failure, or people who arrive after you’ve started.

This is Part 2 of a post about public speaking and presentation skills. Read Part 1 here.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career

Reading List – The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Why read this book? This is a superbly written parable whose main message is that in business, as in life, it is better to give than to receive. The Go-Giver is both inspirational and aspirational as you build your professional network. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Adapted from my new book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 3: Professional Networking. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free! Available on Amazon today.