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Speaking Best Practices

Page history last edited by Thaddeus 11 years, 10 months ago

This page is an open mike for anyone who wants to share their techniques for speaking to the public.

Once you are a registered user, you can contribute your wisdom and ideas for everyone.

As such, let's be generous and find ways to work together and be helpful. 


Thaddeus Howze - CIO, Technology Speaker, Motivational Coaching, Radio Host

I have been a public speaker since 1997 but I have been giving presentations to boards of directors, marketing groups and the like since 1987.

I have to admit, even after all these years, I still get nervous when I first get up in front of a group for the first time. I mitigate that in several ways:


Before the Presentation

  • I engage the staff who are in charge of the event. Since I am a technical type, I naturally gravitate toward the techs who are setting up the event.
  • Ensure that I know their names because they are more inclined to help you, if you take the time to know who they are.
  • I research my topic religiously before I speak. Even if it is something I am really familiar with, I always check to see what might be the lastest ideas on my topic. I also check out my competitors or antagonistic ideas.
  • I put myself in the mindset of my audience. If I were them coming to a seminar about my topic, what would I want to know.
  • I use my friends and family as test subjects before I present to get the bugs out. Not so much to test jokes or such but to get a feel for the rhythm and pacing I want to use.
  • I like to make handouts for my attendees so they can limit their notetaking and have them focus on me.
  • Anything I cover in the course of the lecture, I provide for my attendees so they don't miss an important URL or technology name I want them to know.
  • If I feel it is really important for me to look and feel good, as well as to be aware of my nervous tics or other technical issues in my presentation, I film one of my practice runs to smooth out those nervous mannerisms.
  • I will only use a mike if I do not think I can fill out the room with my voice.
  • If there is a mike, then I make sure that I am aware of any limitations on movement or sound quality.
  • I check all of my presentation equipment, my computer, my projector and my actual files. I make sure they are functioning before the presentation.
  • I back up my presentation files online, so in the event of my laptop or media files being lost, I always have the option to download those files before my presentation. Checkout http://www.box.net



During the Presentation

  • I remember how much I love what I do. That comes out in your presentation as a passion for your work. Enthusiasm is catching, remember to share it.
  • I remember to breath and use puncuation as a chance to modify my vocal pitch and maintain awareness of my vocal state.
  • I focus on keeping my voice expressive and maintaining eye contact with the audience. Engage each person at some point during the presentation, as if they were the only person in the room.
  • Since my topics are often technology based, I bring technical props along to the seminar, to pass out, to handle, to help focus attention (depending on the prop).
  • If I am allowed, I try to film the event and like a football coach, I review the film afterwards for the highlights and and the play by play.
  • I am not a fan of PowerPoint or audiovisual aids, but it will vary depending on the topic. I find people sometimes zone out if your presentation lasts too long or is a bit too dry.



After the Presentation

  • I bring my business cards - as many as I can - sometimes, I will have a box of 500 printed just to keep enough with me when I travel
  • External criticism: I am fortunate enough to have a wife who has an objective eye and I trust her judgment when she says I need to look at something.
  • I often bring a survey for attendees to fill out on a voluntary basis to help me see what people think of my work and how I can improve.
  • If I have the time, I engage anyone who wants to chat afterward and remember to speak evenly to everyone who wants a few minutes. When I am out of time, I politely excuse myself and head out.
  • Rest, reward myself with something that I like and forget the event until I get home and review my film. Rest, Reward, Release and Review.






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