Ali Brown's "8 Secrets to Being a Successful Speaker"

Originally posted on September 5, 2013 by Ali Brown As a business owner, you’ll be surprised how much your world will expand when you begin to connect with a live audience. Your confidence will attract new clients, new resources, mentors, and the media. So, if you’re ready to master this powerful business development tool, here are my top 9 basic tips for success on the stage:

1. Research — Do your research before you even attempt to write your speech. Who is your audience? What are your “take aways” — the most important things you want them to walk away having learned from you? The more you know about your audience as well as your subject, the more confident you’ll feel when you are in front of them, and the more enjoyable your talk will be to them.

2. Make clear notes — Write down your entire speech, then pick out the main areas you’ve covered. Jot them down as bullet-points, words or phrases on 3″ X 5″ cards to prompt you during your speech. Use different colors to separate your points, in case you lose your place or work them into your PowerPoint presentation. As you get better, you’ll be able to work off notes alone, if that’s your style. (It’s surely mine!)

3. Practice — But don’t overdo it. I used to practice giving my talk into a recorder to get an idea of my timing. Surprisingly, having a recorder running also puts pressure on you to know your material! If you’ll be using tools like a PowerPoint clicker or laser pointer, be sure to practice handling them.

4. Visit the venue beforehand — Make an advance visit to where you’ll be speaking, even if you can only do this an hour beforehand. See if you can stand exactly where you’ll be giving your speech to get a feel for the space. Also, ask if you can get a sound check beforehand if there is someone working the A/V.

5. Dress to stand out — If the backdrop is dark on stage, make sure you wear light colors. If the backdrop is light on stage, wear a contrasting color or darker shade. And if you wear a dress, pick one with a belt, so you can clip the wireless mic transmitter to it! (Otherwise, in a pinch, I have clipped my mic pack to my bra strap.)

6. Breathe deeply — Take a few deep breaths before you go on stage, and visualize a winning experience. A minute or so of calm, deep breaths will slow your heart rate, increase your oxygen levels, and ground you nicely to give a calm, confident performance.

7. Don’t rush — Most speakers (myself included) talk faster on stage. Aim to speak slowly to ensure you don’t trip over your words, and don’t rush to finish points. Ideally, set timings in your speech notes, so you know if you are going too fast or too slow as you go along. (This has saved me many times when I realize I’m rushing—or taking too long.)

8. Be yourself and have fun — Audiences may forget what you say, but they will remember what you make them feel. And no one will know that you “messed up” but you. (I “mess up” regularly on stage—I just go with it.) So enjoy yourself, and go for it!

QUESTION: Do you have tips and strategies you use when speaking? I’d love to hear them! Please share in the comments section below.

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© 2013 Ali International, LLC

“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Success Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com