How To Become A Sensational Speaker… Even If You’ve Never Been On Stage Before

How To Become A Sensational Speaker

Want to get your message out to a large group of people that are ready to buy? I have two words for you: START SPEAKING!  Think about it: when you speak—whether you’re on a live stage or speaking via a webinar, podcast or something else—every person in attendance has chosen to be at the event you’re speaking at. That said, you can bank on the fact that they are already in the mindset to hear what you have to say and respond to it (in other words, BUY!)

I’ve been speaking for years. I’ve spoken on large stages – my biggest event had 8,000 attendees—and I’ve spoken on countless smaller stages.  Along the way I’ve learned a lot about what makes a sensational speaker and today, I want to share my top tips with you.

If you’re an auditory learner, stop reading now and watch the video version of this blog instead:

A couple weeks ago, I shared tips on How To Grow Your Business Through Speaking. If you missed that post, you can read it here. I shared some fundamentals about speaking that you definitely need to know.

Today. we’re going to dive a little bit deeper. But first, I’ve created a list of 42 tips that will help you become a better speaker and I’d like to give it to you for free. Want it? Grab it here.

There are 6 areas you need to focus on in order to be a sensational speaker:

  1. Preparation
  2. Technology
  3. Connecting
  4. Pleasing The Event Planners
  5. Engagement
  6. Finishing Well

Let’s talk about some of them.

Preparation

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Preparation is critical if you want to become a sensational speaker. Here are four places to start:

  1. Learn about your audience.
    • Consider their age, where they work, their family structure, income, etc. Then go deeper. Think about what moves them. What makes them happy, sad, angry, excited? What is the problem they have that you can solve?
    • Think about their goals. What are they trying to achieve and how does what you offer play into that?
    • Research the group. A lot of the groups you’ll be speaking for have membership lists on their websites. Check them out. Look at the type of people who are in that group.
    • Use social media to get more information. In this case, becoming a little bit stalker-ish is ok! Check them out on LinkedIn, Facebook—wherever you can find them. Find out what they enjoy outside of work, and figure out if there’s a way to work that into your speech or your networking time before and after speaking.
    • Talk with the host, group president, membership chair, etc. These people know their audience better than anyone else. And for the most part, they love it when speakers ask questions ahead of time because it shows that the speaker truly cares about delivering value to the audience.
    • Find out how you can connect with them on a deeper level. I remember speaking for one group, and before the event, the host told me that almost everyone in the group was a mom. Even though I was speaking on marketing, I started by talking about my kids, and about the reality of balancing being a mom with being a business owner. It immediately leveled the playing field and helped my audience connect with me because they knew that I knew exactly where they were at.
  1. Practice. Do not try to wing it.
    • Timing is everything. If you try to wing it, you will almost certainly be under or over time. These event hosts plan everything out very carefully. You do not want to be the person who messes up their timeline. Time your speech in advance so you know exactly how long it is, and you can add or remove things if you need to.
    • Leave 3-4 minutes to allow for the unexpected. Somebody might throw out a question in the middle of your speech, or you might stumble over your words or have technology issues. It’s always good to have some extra time. I live by the rule “expect the unexpected.”
    • Make sure you have a timer at the event, and make sure they give you cues you can’t miss. Cues written on paper are hard to see when you’re on stage under the lights. I spoke at an event a few months ago, where the timer held up a piece of paper in the back of the room. I could see there was a person holding up a sign but I couldn’t see what it said so it wasn’t helpful. It’s better to use hand signals, or to keep a running timer on your phone if you can. At larger events, you’ll typically have a running clock in on the teleprompter but for smaller events, I like to have someone sit in the front row and hold up fingers on their hands to tell me how many minutes I have left.
    • Don’t practice in front of the mirror or video tape yourself. You will present differently in front of real people than you would in the mirror or on camera. Practice in front of real people. A neighbor or good friend, your spouse, or an older child are all better options than the mirror; and don’t present to your toddler. The feedback your 2-year-old provides will not be helpful, I promise. After you start speaking, always ask the hosts at your speaking events for feedback. Find out what they loved and what you can do better so you know what to do again and what you need to change.
  1. Build up energy before you go on stage.
    • There is nothing worse than feeling like you don’t have the energy to get the audience engaged. Your energy is contagious, so do what you need to do to get pumped up before you go onstage.
      • Blast music in the car on the way to the event. This is one of my favorites. I always put on my favorite songs, turn the volume all the way up, and sing my heart out. There might even be some dancing involved. Whatever it takes to get you excited and put you in a good mood is exactly what you need to do.
      • If you have a friend at the event, ask them to say 3 nice things about you before you go on stage. This will boost your confidence.
      • Say the word “yes” over and over to yourself. For bigger events, you’ll probably have a private area to get ready backstage. Walk back and forth in that room and say “Yes, yes, yes, yes” over and over. It sounds weird, but it gets you in a better head space and prepares you to get your audience to say yes.
  1. Eat well.
    • Avoid greasy food. Before an event, eat a healthy meal with lots of protein. Eggs and/or chicken are great. Complex carbs are also great.
    • Drink a glass of lukewarm water 15 minutes before you go on stage. Stay away from ice cold water–it can really tighten up your throat.  By drinking the water 15 minutes before going onstage, you allow yourself  time to use the restroom before going on stage.
    • Have a glass of lukewarm water on stage with you. If you watched my first Facebook Live about speaking, you may remember that I went into an uncontrollable coughing fit. It happens. I had a glass of water next to me and while it didn’t solve the problem completely, it certainly helped.

Learn more about how to prepare for speaking events with this free tool.

Connecting

When you’re speaking, the power comes from the connections you make. You need to reel ‘em in fast and keep them engaged throughout your talk. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Shock them right away.
    • If your intro is boring, you will lose your audience before you even get started. Let me give you an example. Here are two ways I could start a speech:
  1. “Hi everybody, I’m so glad you’re here this morning! My name is Stephanie and I’m a marketer and I’m gonna be sharing tips with you about how to …..”
  2. “Two days ago, it happened. Two days ago, everything changed. I had no idea that my life was gonna be so dramatically shifted, but it changed everything for me. Let me tell you why.”

Now aren’t you just dying to know what happened two days ago? When you start with something that creates some drama, it draws people in and they want to engage. I’m writing a book right now on storytelling and I’m learning a lot about why the brain responds so favorably to it. Did you know there is actually something that happens in the brain when you tell a story that changes the way people hear and connect with you? It’s true! You’ll be able to learn more about it when I release my book. For now, know that you need to give your audience a reason to listen to you.

  1. Keep your audience engaged.
    • Talk about them, not you. So many speakers talk about themselves. It’s human nature, we all love to talk about ourselves. Truth bomb:  your audience doesn’t care about you. They care about themselves. Share stories about how they can go from point A to point Z using the technique you’ve developed.
    • Get vulnerable. Don’t share your resume but do share your “a-ha” moments. Share the story of the moment when you were in the same place that your audience is in right now and how you got to where you are now.
    • Don’t share your resume. The intro you write for the host to share will build your credibility. You don’t need to share your resume in order to build your credibility. In fact, it’s kind of obnoxious when speaker gets up on stage and toots their own horn. There are other ways to build your credibility throughout your speech, and to do it in a way that’s not slimy or boring. I share more about this in the Speak & Sell Game Plan.
    • Use props, when appropriate. Using visual aids can help people engage more. I have a friend who speaks on weight loss. She often brings a prop with here – 5 lbs of fat. It is so gross but it makes the audience really understand the importance of healthy living and it makes people want to buy from her. If you have a lavaliere mic and your hands are free, you can easily incorporate props to reinforce your points. If you have a handheld mic, this may not be an option so be sure and check with the event host beforehand to find out what type of equipment they’ll have.

Finishing Well

The END of your speech is often the most important part of your speech because it’s typically when people decide whether or not they will buy whatever you’re selling. To increase sales, always include a call-to-action.  Your audience will remember about 10% of what you said. One of the things that will stick out is your closing so your CTA is vital. It could be any number of things, including:

  1. “Meet me at the table in the back to talk more about…”
  2. “Sign up for my newsletter.”
  3. “Buy this tool.” or “Buy my book.”
  4. “Meet me at this upcoming event.”

Remember, most people are followers, not leaders. Followers like to be told what to do. It is your job, as the leader, to give them something to do. Make sure it’s something they really want to do, and that they know it will transform their lives.

  1. Summarize your main points.
    • Again, people will remember 10% of what you said. You want to leave them with the absolute most important information.

Becoming a sensational speaker is easier than you think. You just have to learn a few things from the people that have been there, done that. I’ve got a lot more to share with you. In fact, I have 42 additional tips to becoming a sensational speaker. Want them? Get the list now!

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