11 resolutions for public speakers

Is your goal for 2015 is to land keynote gigs? Nail a presentation in front of your organization’s leaders? These resolutions will help you reach them.

You may dream of landing a TED talk or getting a huge fee for your next speech, but I have some real resolutions for you. They will lead you to greatness—if only you do them.

Success in public speaking—whether you give keynotes, TEDx talks, informal remarks or slide presentations—hinges on small, realistic steps.

Here are the resolutions I recommend for public speakers. They are all within your grasp. Happy 2015!

1. When I prepare for a speech or presentation, I won’t pretend advancing my slides and thinking about what I’ll say is practice. Instead, I’ll discover the advantages of real practice. I’ll speak out loud, record myself and practice in front of a supportive audience before I take the microphone.

2. I will watch videos of my talks before I decide they were awful, and use this no-wincing checklist to review them. If event organizers won’t record my talks, I’ll enlist a pal to do it.

3. When I finish a successful talk or presentation, I’ll make the most of my speech so I can get better gigs next time.

4. I’ll publish my speeches, slide presentations and talks in video, audio and text, along with photos of myself speaking, because I understand the importance of publishing my speeches.

5. I will stop thinking I know everything about public speaking. I will get coaching about what’s new and discover how I can use new ideas to build on my strengths.

6. I will turn down opportunities to be a supporting-role speaker (moderator, introducer, chair) if that’s the only kind of speaking I do. I’ll seek opportunities to be the featured speaker.

7. I will not use slides when I’m on a panel. I will also urge others to forgo them so we can have a discussion—as well as a prayer of ending on time.

8. When I take on a new role, I’ll ask for speaker coaching as part of my professional development. This might be when I get a promotion, become CEO, get elected an officer in my professional society, win an award, or speak at a high-powered conference. I’ll use the coaching to prepare for the types of speaking and messages in my new position.

9. As a panelist, I will resist the urge to add to another panelist’s answer. Instead of agreeing with and repeating what she said, I will make a new point.

10. I will always allow plenty of time for audience questions—at least one-third to one-half of the time allotted me. That’s the way to become a popular speaker.

11. When I am nervous before a talk, I will avoid jumping ahead in time (“I’m going to die out there”) or back in time (“I should have said this instead”) or being in denial (“I never get nervous”). Instead, I’ll acknowledge: “Hey, I’m nervous, and that feels like …” followed by some power posing, smiling or other known antidotes to anxiety.

Denise Graveline is a Washington, D.C.-based speaker coach. A version of this article first appeared on her blog, The Eloquent Woman.


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