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Good Advice on Giving Good Speeches


Longtime readers of my blog know I find ideas for blogs everywhere, from psychology experiments to work events to the origin of words and phrases. Lately, however, books have become my primary source of inspiration. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to have multiple blog ideas after reading a book.

That was the case when I read Seymour Schulich’s Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons. Earlier this year, in How to Make Better Decisions I blogged about a simple, but practical, extension to the traditional two-column pro/con decision list. But there’s much more in the book that’s blog-worthy. For example, Schulich provides good advice on giving good speeches:

  • Be brief (here’s my take)
  • Try to communicate one main idea
  • Create a surprise
  • Use humour
  • Slow it down
  • Use cue cards and look up often
  • Self-praise is no honour
  • Never speak before the main dinner course is served
  • Reuse good material
  • Use positive body language

Most of this advice is self-explanatory, except the self-praise line. Schulich means you should never introduce yourself; instead get someone to tell the audience why you’re important. That way they’re more likely to pay attention to you.

Considering the digital age we live in, Schulich is not really advocating we present using cue cards. Instead his goal is to ensure presenters don’t read speeches and get out from behind the podium. This forces us to give up our safety nets and increases the likelihood we connect with the audience.

While you can’t always control when you present, it’s important to recognize the most difficult slot is right before meals. No matter how good a presenter you are, remember the old adage:

Never get between people and their food.

Any presentation tips you want to add?

This blog was originally posted on Manage by Walking Around on November 15, 2015.
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