Jackie Kellso

Tips for Effective Public Speaking

In business, career, coaching, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, leadership, people skills, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, sales, selling, training on April 25, 2009 at 9:14 am

Recently I sat through a jury selection process in which four attorneys presented a complex case, involving multiple parties.  These were four very experienced trial attorneys, yet we were made to sit through four unbearably bad presentations. Despite their knowledge and preparation, they were simply lacking the skills to make positive impact.

One of the attorneys spoke with his head down, almost looking at the floor the entire time.  He never made any real eye contact with anyone, skirting his eyes too quickly when he did look up.  One guy swallowed his words, spoke too fast and was nearly inaudible.  One guy behaved as if he was playing Hamlet and cast a bloated self-image that may have been a compensation for insecurity.  One guy kept his hands in his pockets and jiggled change the entire time. What client would want these people as their legal reps?  Thankfully, I wasn’t selected to sit on this jury!

So, here’s the thing:  if you want to gain credibility and win your audience, it is critical that you:

1. Are a skilled presenter.  This means that you have an awareness of how your tone of voice, body language and words blend to support one another.  Remember that non-verbal cues can undermine your credibility.

2. Show vs. tell.  Audiences do not like being preached to unless they are in a house of worship.  Be open about who you are and use your own experience as examples for making points.  Let them relate to you!

3. Show a level of passion and conviction that is natural for you.  Have a wide emotional range to work in (because being able to dramatize ideas is a good thing) but be tasteful — don’t try to win an Oscar!

4. Limit the demand you’re placing on your audience.   Your goal is to benefit them and part of that lies in your ability to be relevant, clear, concise, and to finish as soon as possible.

5. Think of yourself as the expert of your material, and your audience as experts-in-training. Respect their intelligence. Talk to them, not at them.

Remember this:  your audience isn’t thinking enough about you as a person to decide that your strengths override your limitations.  If you are flawed enough as a speaker, the takeaway is going to lean towards the negative.

As a public speaking trainer and coach I tell my clients this:  being nervous and afraid isn’t the thing to worry about overcoming. Your focus has got to be first, on your delivery impact, and second, on how you use the right words to convey your message.  With practice and improved skills, self-confidence rises and effectiveness becomes a reality.

Happy presenting,


Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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