Public Speaking & Sales Tips

Posted on January 9, 2013

This is going to be where I keep notes about anything I read or find regarding public speaking. A thorough list of tips I find from various sources that will be updated every time I find a new one.

Dec. 2012 Toastmasters Magazine article, “Pitching Trust,” by Jack Vincent

  • Studies show that the best salespeople and the most persuasive leaders in business today are not only effective at presenting their cases; they are also good at building trust.
  • Don’t talk at people; engage with them.
  • Ask the right questions at the right time.
  • Listen proactively and let the other party provide input.
  • Start Strong: ‘Trust pitches’ begin with something that grabs the stakeholder’s full attention, much like a good speech has a compelling opening. The opening can include a success story, the surprising results of a test market, or even the outcome of not taking action on the topic you’re pitching. But whatever it is, it needs to be relevant to the overall pitch. Don’t simply push forward with your standard statement about the benefits of the plan without knowing the audience’s level of familiarity and buy-in. It’s much more effective to turn your pitch into an inclusive, conversational dialogue, in which you take the lead by having good questions prepared in advance. When you ask questions, you can navigate the conversation. Navigating is leading. Presenting while being unaware of quiet resistance is naive.
  • Have a plan. What is your objective? How will you stimulate your stakeholder’s interest? Being mindful of your objectives, how will you engage that person in an interactive discussion in which you actively seek to understand his or her point of view? How will you jointly build a solution, even if the actual building will occur once you gain approval or win the business? What actions do you want the stakeholder to take following the pitch?
  • Tips for getting the audience to trust you: Know what the objective of your pitch is. Don’t make the presentation too long or overload your audience with information. Check for visual and verbal affirmation of your message. Affirming reinforces trust. Listen proactively. Listening is one of the strongest ways to build trust. Once your pitch is complete, follow up as soon as possible. And always deliver what you promise on time.

Dec. 2012 article, “‘The Power In Being Who You Are,” by Mary Nesfield

  • She rewrote the parts of her speech she found difficult to deliver. [Susan Cain on public speaking as an introvert].
  • Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it. If this requires…activities that make you feel uncomfortable, do them anyways. But accept that they’re difficult, get the training you need to make them easier, and reward yourself when you’re done.

“Five Steps To A Successful Interview: How speaking with power can land you a job” by Leo Novsky in Jan. 2013 Toastmasters Magazine

  • How you tell your story is essential to engaging your interviewer.
  • Remember you are not the only one in the room who has an important goal- your [audience] does too. [Put yourself in your audience's shoes and determine what they would like to get out of your speech? What are their goals?]
  • Therein lies the curse of knowledge- the human tendency to speak in abstract on subjects we are familiar with, while the uninitiated audience is hungering for a story to use as a framework. Sharing knowledge without telling a story is why so many crash and burn.

“Zappos CEO Shares Path TO Success: Online retail innovator leads with core values.” by Dave Zielinski in Jan. 2013 Toastmasters Magazine

  • The CEO’s [Tony Hsieh] anxiety was so acute that he wrote out his entire speech beforehand and spent a month memorizing and rehearsing it. One day he realized that no one would know if he missed a sentence or paragraph. So, he scrapped the memorization and started relying on telling personal stories- many about the Zappos culture and the company’s zeal for customer service.  [This is why the icebreaker speech was the hardest to write, but the easiest to remember!]
  • Be passionate, tell personal stories and be real.
  • On Corporate Culture: Figure out what your own personal values (which is harder than it sounds), make those your corporate values and be uncompromising in implementing them.
  • On Leadership Traits: It’s less about leadership and more about ‘followership’. Ask yourself this: Who in your organization would choose to follow you if you didn’t have your title or your position? Who might follow you if only out of curiosity?
  • If you’re going to…do anything in life, you might as well do something you’re passionate about. For talks specifically, the passion will be infectious and rub off on your audience, and you’ll be able to tell your stories better.
  • On Prepping For Speeches: I generally don’t do any preparation. [Wow! This is possible- make this a goal!]
  • Over time a lot of [your speech] can be things that you’ve said before so you have a better timing for certain jokes. But I’ve found that if you know your material really well, and are passionate about it, then you can just approach it the same way you would tell a story to a group of friends at a bar. There are certain elements that are repetitive, but at the same time, because you are so passionate about it, it still comes across as authentic. [Don't be afraid to recycle stories!- especially to new audiences]
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