Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Speaking lessons for any current or aspiring speaker

Over the years, I have presented at many events across the country—everything from keynote speeches to two-day workshops. As a speaker, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly and learned some important speaking lessons. Here are a few I wanted to share. 

Be a Student and Do Your Homework

I know many speakers who have crafted a presentation they do over and over again. The problem is, every audience is unique. That’s why I spend time upfront with the event planner to get a good snapshot of attendees. Where possible, I go a step further and try to interview attendees in advance. For example, I was scheduled to speak to a group of teleservices business owners. I had several topics that I proposed, a few of which were focused on technology. I assumed there would be great interest there. After interviewing several members, I discovered the real need for these businesses was information on how to connect with and win big business clients. The lesson here—don’t make assumptions about an audience. Do your homework if you want to deliver a successful, well-targeted presentation. 

Two Is Better than One 

When event planners ask me to do a keynote or major presentation, I ask if they also have other opportunities. Let’s face it, travel is expensive. I often suggest doing a mini-workshop or presentation in addition to the main speech. As an example, I spoke to Women in Auto Care on the topic of leadership. This keynote was based on a book I co-authored called, Stop Wishing, Stop Whining. Start Leading. When I saw the conference plan, it looked like there was an opportunity for some shorter presentations, too. I suggested that my Top Five Presentation Mistakes… and How to Overcome Them might be a great addition to the line-up. They agreed. I had the opportunity to speak on two topics I am passionate about, while they got additional content and saved on travel expenses.  

Not Every Speaking Opportunity Is a Good Fit 

It is flattering to be asked to present, but I have learned that some opportunities are not a good fit. I try to be objective about this because it takes a great deal of time and effort to put together a presentation. If the audience is not one that will be receptive to your message or is not your target audience, then the results can be disappointing for you and them. Additionally, I look at the time allotted. Can I do something that will be impactful in that time? I like to promote the organizations and events that hire me, so is this opportunity something I feel comfortable promoting?  If the opportunity isn’t a good fit, I take a pass.  

Get Feedback and Listen

It’s easy to assume you know how well you have performed. You feel like you know, and you may be right, but you may be wrong. Certainly, you can tell if your audience was engaged, but I try to go deeper. I seek out feedback by asking some very specific questions. 

  • Was there anything missing that I should have covered? 
  • Was the content relevant to the audience? Was the level of information appropriate?  
  • What other comments do you have for me? 
  • Would you hire me again? 

That last speaking lesson is telling. To me, the greatest measure of success is getting asked back to present—or being given a referral. When that happens, you know you have accomplished your mission.  

Looking to hire someone to speak at your next event? Let’s chat.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Business workshops could be a great value to your team, or not.

How do you energize your team? Help them develop personally and professionally? Create a bond with your company?

One way is to invest in them. Business workshops and seminars are a proven way to do that. To show employees that you care enough to offer them an opportunity to learn new skills and connect with others. There are lots of reasons why some companies don’t want to offer them, and employees don’t take advantage of the opportunity. 

It’s a Disruption

Taking time out of the workday can be a disruption. Employers worry about the loss of productivity. Employees are afraid to step out and try something new. And if the workshop is mandatory, there can be resentment. I once did a communication workshop for a group of salespeople from around the country who were told by their boss that they were “terrible communicators.” It was by far the toughest workshop I ever conducted. Fortunately, they got past the resentment and understood the value. 

Content is Not Relevant 

Some workshops are one-size-fits-all. The presenter has a body of content and does the same thing over and over again without regard for the audience. As a result, participants lose interest or can’t see how to apply what they learned quickly and effectively.  

No Way to Measure Results 

How do you know if someone truly benefitted from a business workshop or seminar? If you are spending time and money, you need results. Will an employee come away with new tools, skills, and perspectives that have an impact? How do you measure it?  

All of these are valid arguments. But if you choose the best workshops and presenters, the arguments disappear. Here are some tips to help you make good choices. 

Look for Experts, not Speakers 

Some workshop presenters are just that- presenters. They have a great speech as long as they can stick to the script. What you want is a subject matter expert that works in the field and has a depth of knowledge. These professionals will be better versed in current best practices, trends, and issues. Ask to see a video sample of the presenter. There is nothing worse than great content presented by a boring speaker.  

Ask for Customization  

I never do the same workshop the same way. Companies’ needs vary, as do the skill levels of the participants. I will do a fact-finding session with key company stakeholders to get a handle on the content needed. I also do an assessment of participants. It is a simple but effective survey that helps me get to know the participants and from there I can plan the additional content that they might want to be included. 

Get Interactive 

People are more engaged when there is interaction. This can be in the form of hands-on exercises, on-the-spot surveys, video streaming, demonstrations or small group discussion. Ask to see how interaction is incorporated into a workshop you are considering for your team. I design workshops with interaction sprinkled throughout to keep people engaged so that they absorb the content.  

I have conducted business workshops on communication, presentation skills and media training throughout the country. A number of my clients use workshops to give up-and-comers the skills they need for promotion. Others see it as a way to motivate individuals to be better performers in their current position. In some cases, the workshops are designed to improve destructive communication patterns. Whatever the reason, a workshop can be a cost-effective way to provide continuous learning- and who doesn’t need that?   

Looking to hire someone to run a workshop for your team? Let’s chat.