Public Speaking Tips to Enhance Presentations

Note: This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated recently.

Are you afraid to speak in public?

Raise your hand if you are afraid of public speaking. OK, you can put them down. If you are like three out of four people, you fear speaking in public. It is very easy to comprehend the fear of speaking in front of strangers, or even among friends. However, at some point, you will be called upon to make a presentation. Why not increase your opportunity for a successful one? Use our tips to make your next presentation one that you’re applauded for.

Tips to improve your public speaking abilities

I’m one of the few who relish speaking in public. Being able to share ideas, to teach and learn with a group is one of the things that I look forward to in my profession. Over the years I’ve learned that you can really overcome your fears if you do these things:

  1. Create cards with your speaking points on them. Hold them and refer to them as you speak but without reading or burying your face in them and…
  2. Know what you are speaking about and why you are there and what you wish to leave your audience with. And I mean know it. Not memorize it. People panic when they can’t remember the words, but if you know why you’re there, and what you want to leave your audience with, you’re 80% home.
  3. Practice. Ask your friends or your spouse to listen to you. Choose a friendly audience who you know cares about you. Having confidence when you practice will help you and the feelings of confidence in practice will transfer to your actual presentation.
  4. Ask for a critique from your listener after practice. Ask them what they are taking away from the presentation. Does that match your goals? If not, you’ll need to refine your content or your manner of presentation or learn it more thoroughly.
  5. Use your body to help you. Stand well, project your voice. Make eye contact. You have nothing to fear from these people. They are there to hear what you have to say! Talk to them, not through them.
  6. Have confidence in what you’re saying. (See #2)
  7. Use a story to get your points across. Tell tales on yourself. Have fun.

What are the most important elements of public speaking for presentations?

View this video to learn the most important things you can do when making a presentation. This video cements points #5 and #7 in your mind.



What is PR these days? – An interview with Marketing Mentor’s Ilise Benun

Podcast covering PR practices in 2017

In advance of the Revolve Conference I had the great pleasure of chatting with Ilise Benun* of Marketing Mentor’s podcast series.

During the podcast interview with Ilise, we discuss many of the changes to PR over the last decade and how this impacts each business as well as the practice of public relations.

In this podcast learn:

  • The value of being a self publisher of your own news
  • What value an outside PR firm brings to your business
  • The differences between owned, earned and paid media
  • The value of long-form content

Click for my slide deck/presentation from Revolve Conference

Want to know more about Ilise Benun?

Ilise’s presentation at Revolve Conference 2017 focused on making the best use of your time at conferences, learning how to initiate conversations and how to interact in an enjoyable way. Every attendee at Revolve who ever attended a meeting or event and bewailed their inability to make connections learned valuable tips. [View Ilise’s presentations on SlideShare.]

Ilise is a knowledgeable coach for creative professionals. In speaking with her at Revolve, I learned that she loves what she does and approaches everything with great good sense and humor as well as humility. She’s a powerful source of support for creatives. As the author of 7 books and presenter at national conferences, Ilise has served many in the marketing and design fields by providing insightful guidance and accountable nurturing. 

*Featured Image: My photo of Ilise photographed during her presentation at Revolve.

PR is individual

What does a PR consultant do?

In the many years that I’ve worked with companies to develop public relations plans, the number one misperception regarding PR is that it is a simple set of activities that can be done quickly, like creating one widget after another from the same die.

Just as each owner of a company, entrepreneur or executive in a corporation is an individual, so is each firm’s public relations plan. Many clients perceive that PR is fast, simple, cheap and easy. Not true. There is no cookie cutter way to implement public relations. However, there are common activities for all clients. PR done correctly these tasks are time-intensive and require one-to-one approaches.

So, just what exactly is Public Relations? Is it sending press releases to media contacts? Staging attention grabbing activities at major public gathering points? Sending product samples to celebrities?

What is Public Relations?

Public relations is the on-going, continuous building of a wave of conversation and information in the public realm or segment. Public relations, as the name says, is the development of relationships with the many audiences of an enterprise. Public relations is cumulative, long-term and carries different perceptions as opposed to advertising, which I believe PR must support. Public relations creates an environment which makes sales and marketing activities successful. In many respects, public relations is the fertilizer for the seeds sown by advertising, sales and marketing activities.

I counsel and support my clients as they seek to:

  • Be authoritative (speak about issues, teach, present, comment)
  • Be alert to opportunity; Make the news
  • Look for trends and comment on them; Be visible in the news
  • Have a blog and post weekly
  • Seek out and communicate with bloggers, forums and others talking about subjects of interest to your consumers
  • Have whitepapers on the company website so the company is positioned with authority.
  • Conduct webinars
  • Take polls and announce the results
  • Post all news releases on the company website
  • Post all news releases on searchable sites and make sure your news is in a syndicated feed
  • Post information about the company in contributed articles on sites that accept contributed articles

Specifically, public relations activities can be organized into 5 discrete sets of activities:

  1. Media relations activity
    1. Media releases
      1. Creation of media materials (formerly called press kit)
    2. Creation of storylines and pitches to gain publicity
    3. Contributed articles
    4. Creation of white papers
    5. Responding to media / journalist’s queries for experts
    6. Coaching regarding on how to be interviewed
  2. Conversation origination, participation and relationship building
    1. Customers
    2. Bloggers
    3. Forums
    4. Bulletin Boards
  3. Special events
    1. Media events (such as photo opps or interesting attention getting activities)
    2. Customer focused events
    3. Product Launches
    4. Grand openings
    5. Expos/Trade shows
    6. Conferences development, planning and organization
    7. Development of Speaking engagements/Speaker’s Bureau
  4. Reputation management
    1. Being ready with talking points on potential issues with regard to a company
    2. Keeping management apprised of issues that might effect their company
    3. Coaching management on how to conduct interviews
  5. Crisis communications

In addition, your PR consultant should assist you and your firm by creating messages, to communication touch points. A PR pro helps you learn to stay on message and keep all messages aligned to support long-term goals.

Many entrepreneurs and companies conduct their own public relations activities, however, as an entrepreneur, it is hard to develop a company and stay focused on the specifics of your PR plan.

For those who need support, we recommend you consult a communications professional to develop plans, as well as coach and guide the firm to the plan’s implementation. It’s worth your time, money and energy to plan wisely and work with a professional.