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After our first public speaking training session ends, Maria, the CFO of a multinational company, and I chat over a cup of coffee. “Peter,” she asks, “how did you get started as a speaker?” I answer this as I have many times before. Then she follows with, “If you could go back and give advice to Peter, the fledgling speaker, what would it be?”


Following is some of the advice I would have given to my much younger self.


1. Before beginning to develop a presentation, thoroughly understand your audience. This includes who you will speak to, what they need and want to know, how you want them to feel, how they will be transformed, and what they should do or think after your talk.


2. Determine the goal of your presentation. If it’s merely to inform your audience, think again. Instead, decide how you are going to transform them.


3. Know your point and stick to it. Your point must be based on your particular audience, at that particular time, for that particular goal.


4. Focus on your audience. It is not about you. It is about your audience. So get out of your head and your way.


5. Use stories. They are engaging and memorable. But do not merely tell stories; relive them. This includes speaking in the present tense, using dialog, and using your voice and body language to support and foster your words.


6. Ask questions. Actual or rhetorical questions are a powerful tool for engaging your audience.


7. Embrace the pause. Pausing is an incredibly versatile tool. It is engaging and helps people understand and process your points.


8. Keep a journal. Meticulously record the things that went well, those that did not go so well, and ideas that pop into your head. Refer to your journal often.


9. Learn from others. Every speaker, presenter, and salesperson is an expert at some part of presenting. This could be creating presentations, delivering them, storytelling, follow-up, or other parts of the process. Learn from them and make it your own.


10. Practice. Practice. Practice. And then practice again. Then record your presentation. Review it. Revise it. Repeat the process.


11. Learn to use slides effectively, if at all. Do not use them as a makeshift teleprompter. Instead, learn (not memorize) your presentation from beginning to end. Do not stuff your slides with words. These unintended read-alongs result in audiences being bored, if not frustrated. Use slides only when they support your point. Remember, there is no such thing as a slide presentation. You are delivering the presentation.


12. Consider using props. Props are often unexpected and can be extremely useful in supporting your point. Furthermore, props are memorable.


13. Remember what your mother told you. Stand up straight. Look people in the eye. Keep your hands out of your pockets. Speak with conviction. Her words will serve you well.


14. Put a great deal of thought into your openings and closings. Know exactly how you will grab your audience’s attention. And end in a compelling manner, much like the conclusion of a book or movie.


15. Be polite to everyone. When you’re nervous, losing your composure and being ill-mannered is easy. So strive to be courteous and cooperative with everyone, even when they are anxious, tense, or impolite.


16. Manage your nerves. The adrenaline rush you experience is actually a good thing. Embrace it. Realize that it is your body preparing you for something special and exciting.


17. Hire a speaking coach early on your learning process.


18. so you can accelerate Never stop learning!


19. Enjoy every minute of your journey. You never know which presentation might be your last.


These are just some of the ideas I wish I had focused on early in my career. Incorporate them, and you will be well on your way to engaging, impacting, and inspiring your audiences.

Peter George Speaker and Public Speaking Coach

Peter George


With a wealth of experience as a veteran speaker, public speaking coach, and acclaimed author, Peter has assisted over 300,000 executives, consultants, and professionals across 50 countries in harnessing the power of public speaking to increase their impact, influence, and income.


Peter’s notable achievements include authoring the six-time award-winning book, “The Captivating Public Speaker,” and pioneering the AMP’D Framework™, a methodology designed to empower speakers in crafting compelling messages tailored to their audiences.


Drawing from personal triumph over speech impediments like a lisp and stutter, Peter believes everyone should be able to effectively communicate their advice, expertise, and experiences.

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