Tips for Becoming an Engaging Speaker

by April Angele

Are your words memorable? Do you ever wish you had said something more concise, clear and persuasive? Whether it’s upselling at a counter, taking your turn at an impromptu work meeting or delivering a formal presentation to a large industry group, good communication skills are required of every professional in nearly every business.

Although many people fear speaking in public more than death itself (it’s called glossophobia) the same skills needed for an interesting conversation are those required for presenting ideas in a business setting. This means most people already possess the skill set to present well and simply need to be more deliberate in their communications to become an engaging speaker and trusted resource.

Here are a few tips you can quickly use to adjust your perspective and begin communicating like a pro.

Be clear about your goal

What is your goal for your communication? Are you trying to persuade someone to embrace a new habit, purchase something, or accept you as a new resource? Identify your goal for your communication, and be mindful that you convey this goal clearly to your audience. Perhaps you want to persuade someone to try your company’s services. Don’t just offer an option, clearly state you want their business and why they should switch.

Strong open and strong close

Whether it’s a five-minute conversation or an hour-long presentation, your entire message will be memorable if your opening and closing are remarkable. This must be something you are comfortable with, which may be a story that has an emotional connection, clever or thoughtful wording, or even something unusual like a sound, song, dance or chant. You may choose to directly state your goal or use a story that relates to your goal to close, but make your words impactful.  If you know your topic, you will fill the content with pertinent information. Keep in mind that you want to be as brief as possible.


Understand your audience and consider their environment

This may sound trite, but there are many factors to consider when you determine how to best reach your audience. There are the obvious factors such as industry type, audience age, etc., but there are other circumstances that influence how you deliver your message. How much time do you have? If it’s a quick meeting wedged into an otherwise busy day, you will need to deliver your message in a very short time with an effective and practiced elevator speech. Is your audience sitting in a big room, listening to one presenter after another? You will have to stand out from the rest by better knowing what others are presenting. How educated is your audience about your topic? Talking above someone who knows very little about your subject will lose their interest just as quickly as telling them something they already know. If you’re not sure, be flexible so you can gauge from them their level of expertise; they will appreciate your attentiveness.

Balance technical with non-technical content

You hear sales people say it all the time: discuss the features but the benefits are just as important. For example, donations for a fundraiser to the American Red Cross may pay for training dogs, but those Canine Assisted Therapy dogs will immediately be used to treat six more veterans and their families impacted by PTSD. Share technical information and translate it into specific, tangible benefits. This is why you are speaking with your audience, after all.


Use expert “testimony” to reinforce your credibility

“History has repeatedly been changed by people who had the desire and the ability to transfer their convictions and emotions to their listeners,” according to Dale Carnegie. You see how Dale Carnegie’s words were used to make this point?

With just a little practice, you can master the basics and become a solid presenter. There are many resources available for polishing your skills, ranging from online webinars and classes to community groups created for public speaking, like Toastmasters, or professional leadership programs like Zig Ziglar.

Do you need to speak to someone tomorrow? Start with a clear goal and if you use these tips, your audience will recognize your professionalism and be much more willing to be persuaded. Need visual communications for your next presentation? Find a FASTSIGNS center.

Related articles:

The Power of Words and Effective Communication

How to Deliver a Killer Sales Presentation

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First Impressions Count: From the Lobby to the Meeting Room