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The best way to become a better speaker? By speaking. Don’t pass up an opportunity to say a few words, give a presentation or provide an introduction. And when you do, remember these five tips:
1. Start strong and command attention. Make an attention grabbing statement or give an interesting fact. You won’t quickly engage an audience with unprepared and superfluous comments.
2. Be authentic. Be yourself, but be your best self. Being prepared is the most important way to demonstrate that you care about your audience. Being unprepared and/or pretentious shows you care more about yourself. Audiences are turned off by those who put on airs and who waste their time.
3. Focus on the audience. Be so ready and practiced that you can focus on them and their reactions, rather than your anxieties or needs. A great speech is always about how the audience is positively impacted by what the speaker says and how she or he says it.
4. Make the message memorable. Listeners remember stories far more easily than facts or statistics. Tell a good story. Even an introduction can be enhanced with an interesting story about the person being introduced, rather than focusing only on their achievements. Great stories make for a great speech.
5. End with a call to action. Leave not doubt what it is you want the listener to do. Simplify it, and make it catchy if you can. Here’s a good test: will an audience member be able to tell a friend or colleague what you said?
Here’s my call to action: print these five ideas and use them as a checklist next time you are getting ready to give a speech. And don’t just give a speech–give an extraordinary speech!
Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development and remarkable performance. He is an award-winning speaker and the author of two recent bestselling books, The Fred Factor: How Passion In Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary and You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader: How Anyone Anywhere Can Make a Positive Difference are bestsellers. His newest book The Encore Effect: How to Give a Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do released in September 2008. To obtain additional information for growing yourself, your people and your business (including free articles), visit,

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