Smash Your Next Speech: 3 Top Tips for Amazing Public Speaking

Ask yourself one question:  Who knows my story better than me?  The answer:  No one.

This is the exact question to keep in mind when you are asked to give a speech, public speaking, or speak at any event. You might have been invited to give a Tedtalk, speak at a company event, or the eulogy at a friend’s funeral.  The one thing all these situations have in common is that you are telling a story.  And not just any story, but a story that you write that stems from your life and experience.   Here are three top tips for public speaking success that you can implement right away and tell your story with aplomb.

Know Your Audience

So many people make the mistake of crafting a speech by telling the story they want to tell and never take into consideration who their audience is in the room with them.  One of Richard Branson’s top tips is ‘Speak from the heart’ when it comes to key note speaking and telling your story.  He talks about making an emotional connection with your audience and giving them a little bit of who you are. 


However, trying to be someone else is never a good idea because it will never ring true, and one thing about story telling is that the more truthful it is, the more we can connect with it.  The same goes for knowing your audience.  Not knowing your audience is like writing a love letter to ‘To Whom It May Concern’.  It’s generic, impersonal, and unemotional. 

So target your audience:  Know their challenges, find out about what keeps them awake at night, and find out who their heroes are.  There’s a good reason why you were asked to be there so find out why they chose you to give this key note speech.  Chances are your host will be more than happy to tell you.

Storytelling: The Magic Sauce

People respond to honesty, emotion, and sincerity, and the only way to give that to your audience is to feel it yourself.  Being a powerful speaker means crafting a key note speech that means something very special to you and that you have a strong connection to.  This is the magic sauce that galvanizes people’s attention.  If you feel a deep, emotional connection to your story then your audience will to.  It’s hard wired into our DNA.  We, as an audience, love hearing people’s stories and love telling our own stories. 

Audiences are already primed to want to listen to you, so take advantage of that innate need to connect.  Steve Jobs does just this in his 2005 commencement speech for Stanford University.  He knows that many of the graduating students would love to be like him and follow a similar, unconventional path to success.  So he grounds his key note speech in stories from his early life, hardships, failures, and how he succeeded.  He speaks in simple language and images that everyone can connect to. 


Practice, Practice, Practice

There’s no success without sweating a bit.  Hard work always pays off in the end and preparing a key note speech is no different.  Once you’ve got that story mapped out and ready to go, stand it up.  ‘Standing it up’ is a term that powerful speakers often use when we take written words off the page and start speaking it, standing up on our feet on stage or in a room. 

First, practice in the privacy of your own home on your own and get your story down, get the feel of the flow of your words until it feels you have a good handle on the shape of what you’re going to say.  Then, practice in front of a person or people you trust so you can physically get in front of an audience.  This step is absolutely imperative because you must feel how it feels to have eyes on you.  Singing in the shower is very different from singing in front of a real audience!

Go Out There And Smash It

Remember, your audience wants you to be brilliant.  Every key note speaker needs to remember that your audience is primed to want to hear your story.  So, get to know who it is you’re going to be talking to, craft your story in a way that speaks from the heart and is truthful and honest, and then practice, practice, practice.

There is a magical alchemy that happens when one person confides in another and, as a key note speaker, that is exactly what you are doing.  You are sharing a part of yourself with someone else by telling your story.  Trust your story.  Trust yourself.  And trust me, your audience will love you for it.

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