Top 10 Tips for Speakers #9 – Don’t reinvent the wheel – Learn from the masters

microphoneEvery year, Toastmasters International holds the World Championship of Public Speaking – and every year there’s a masterclass in polished, professional, word-perfect, presentation like Aaron Beverly’s 2019 winning speech, or Mark Hunter’s 2009 tour-de-force.

They are extraordinary speeches – and something that many of us could only aspire to.

But while they are (as I say), polished and sparkling and don’t miss a step, there are other presentations that also astound me – even if they aren’t as ‘clinically correct’.

If you watch TED talks, or TEDx presentations, you begin to notice something.

Perfection in presentation isn’t the aim, it seems … Dan Pink, in his TED talk The Puzzle of Motivation had 10 umms, aaahs, and y’knows in the first 90 seconds.

And yet his presentation has been watched just over Nine MILLION times – and that’s just on the official TED YouTube channel. I suspect you can add half as many again on other versions.

On TEDx, Kyle McDonald has had more than 10 million views in under 5 years, in a stumbling, at times near-incoherent presentation on trading a red paper clip for a house in Canada.

But the misspeaks and mumbles don’t matter – because the story he tells is a hoot!

Whether you are looking at the smooth, polished, practiced-to-perfection World Championships, or the rather more ‘organic’ TED talks, what they have in common is SOMETHING WORTH SAYING.

It may be information, it may be entertainment, it may be motivation, it may be messages of hope – or of faith – or of friendship.

But they all had something to say. And if you have the right content, people will watch, and listen.

So today, my tip is to learn from the masters, and don’t reinvent the wheel.

Watch some TED or TEDx talks. Do a YouTube search for ‘Public Speaking’. See what others are suggesting.

Now, obviously some will be looking to sell their services as coaches (and there’s nothing wrong with that – after all, I run my own coaching consultancy) – but you should be able to glean some good ideas, and learn from the experts.

You can also find lots of books, and websites, and other resources on the internet to help.

One example is Craig Haddon’s Remote Possibilities which offers some alternatives to my earlier tip about Tell Them, Tell Them, Tell Them – He suggests instead that you might instead choose

Or there’s the excellent Six Minutes website – which has articles like “How to make presentations to senior executives”

Inc. magazine has some good,  specific tips like “Instead of thinking “I’m going to be terrible out there” and visualizing yourself throwing up mid-presentation, imagine yourself getting tons of laughs while presenting with the enthusiasm of Jimmy Fallon and the poise of Audrey Hepburn (the charm of George Clooney wouldn’t hurt either). Positive thoughts can be incredibly effective-give them a shot.

The point is that you are not alone – millions before you have been nervous about making public presentations.

Use their experience and ‘crowd-source’ solutions – it is certainly easier than starting from scratch.

Finally, one interesting observation comes from Janek Tuttar, who runs

His masters thesis was on fear of public speaking – and he found that people who do public speeches or presentations once or twice a week were nearly 10 times less likely to say they were afraid of public speaking than those who only spoke once a year or so.

So the obvious answer is to seek out the opportunity to speak. And while that’s easier said than done for those who suffer from social anxiety, there are organisations such as Toastmasters, Rostrum or Dale Carnegie that can give you that practice.

Tomorrow, Putting it all together.

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Tips for Speakers #9 – Don’t reinvent the wheel – Learn from the masters

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Tips for Speakers #10 – Putting it all together | Cairns Communications

  2. Thanks for sharing links to various videos and blogs – including mine!

    It’s interesting – with Dan Pink’s speech – after clicking the link I rewound to listen from the start, and I hardly noticed the umms. I think what he was saying was interesting enough (and how he said it was entertaining enough) that a smattering of umms didn’t seem to matter.

    If he continued to say umm at the same rate throughout, I might find it annoying, but for me, a smattering of them while he found his flow wasn’t an issue.

    One thing about Toastmasters is it tends to make people focus on details – as well as on hammy body language! And to me it does so at the expense of more important issues, like connecting with the audience.

    You might find this video by pro speaker Josh Shipp interesting. In that example, I did find his disfluencies a bit distracting, but I love his content.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Workshop Wednesday – are ‘filler words’ the kiss of death in presentations? | Cairns Communications

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