Monday, March 4, 2013

7 Tips for Speakers & Wannabe Speakers

When I hear a speaker, I listen with two body parts: I fine tune my heart, to hear what God is saying that might change my life. And I listen with my brain, so I can assess what works and what doesn't as a speaker interacts with her audience. Because I am also a speaker, I want to learn from others what works and what doesn't.
At a recent women's conference, I made these notes to myself:

  1.      DO smile a lot, to engage your audience. Genuine smiles cover a multitude of mistakes.
  2.      Transparency endears you to your audience. "I have a confession to make" piques my curiosity, but DON'T give too many gory details, or I want to run out screaming.
  3.      DO engage your audience on a personal level. Ask questions, have them give 30-second shoulder rubs to each other, and address a few by name.
  4.      DON'T draw attention to your actions that don't fit with your message. "Oops--my microphone is slipping, I need to fix it," or, "I'm going to get a drink of water here," etc. Just take care of it, and trust your audience to understand.
  5.      If you chose a short dress, DO wear pantyhose. Bare legs look unprofessional for a speaker at a larger venue than someone's back yard.
  6.      Even a funny, engaging story needs to be concise and to the point. DON'T ramble and repeat, or we lose interest.
  7.      DO show us how you put the principles into practice in your own life, to convince us you know what you are talking about.

When you hear a speaker, read a book, or watch a movie, do you listen with more than one body part? How does what bugs or excites you reveal about your heart, or the speaker/author/actress?

P. S. For a list of my speaking gigs, please see my Speaking Schedule Page on this site.


  1. These are great tips/observations! Not just the run-of-the-mill ones, either.

    I, too, listen with my heart and brain :)

  2. I do critique them a little. lol Great advice, Jeanette! The smile is definitely a Must, imo.

  3. Number 7 is important to me when I'm listening to a speaker.
    I really love your smile!

  4. Some great tips here, although not sure I'd be comfortable in the audience with the shoulder rub prompt. :)

  5. These are terrific- love them!

  6. Thanks, everyone!

    Barb: Thank you. You are sweeter than a bowl of M & M's.

    Sandra: It was all women, so we were fine with the shoulder rubs. But I wouldn't be if it was a mixed crowd!

  7. I have done a little bit of speaking and would love to do more. Your tips are very helpful. I like the one about not drawing attention to water, etc. Many speakers goof that one up.

    By the way, I think that is a splashing new picture of you.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I'd love to hear you speak sometime!

      Oooh, I like the word "splashing." Thanks!


Oh, it's YOU! I'm so happy to see you here today, and look forward to reading your comments.