18 Speaking Tips to Rivet Your Audience

“Your goal should not be to ‘deliver a presentation.’ It should be to inspire your audience, to move them, and to encourage them to dream bigger.” —Amy Carmine Gallo

image by ArtsyBee
image by ArtsyBee

If I’m going to put my trembling body before an audience, I want to rivet the members with what I believe is important.

I read, Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo. Here are 18 tips from what I learned from Gallo’s book and other research. I suggest you read Gallo’s book for more tips, many examples, and explanations behind the “secrets.”

18 Tips to Rivet Your Audience

  1. image by Alexas_Fotos
    image by Alexas_Fotos
    Speak from your heart on what you believe and are passionate about .
  2. Tell personal stories that take the audience on a journey and reach members’ hearts and minds.
  3. Include unexpectedness in your stories, something that veers from what listeners expect.



image by hornstromp
image by hornstromp

4. Include villains (challenges perhaps) in your stories and heroes who rise to the challenges and succeed.

5. Deliver talks in a genuine, conversational manner.

6. Record your talk and watch for“ums” and “ahs,”distracting gestures or fidgeting, and lack of eye contact.



7. Use purposeful gestures at key moments. Gallo suggests we keep them within the borders of our:

  1. eyes, 
  2. outstretched fingertips, and 
  3. waist.

8. Employ these techniques to show emphasis:

  1. raise or lower the volume of your voice,
  2. change word delivery from normal pace (190 words per minute), and
  3. pause before or after a key word.

9.  Walk away from the podium occasionally.

10. Reveal something new or give a fresh outlook or solution on an old challenge to inform, educate, and entertain your audience.

11. Be able to write what you want your audience to know in 140 or less characters.

12. Supply a concrete and meaningful “showstopper” (a story, a video, a demonstration, a surprise guest, a prop, or a personal anecdote) to stress your most important point.

image by lizzyliz
image by lizzyliz

13. Employ humor and novelty without trying to be funny, e.g. relate anecdotes, analogies, quotes, videos, or photos that reveal humor in a situation.

14. Limit your talk to 18 minutes. If your talk must go over 18 minutes, build in stories, videos, or demonstrations every 10 minutes.

15. Keep content on slides under 40 words with one theme per slide.

16. Replace words and bullet points with pictures and reduce the number of slides.

17. Develop a “message map.” Gallo suggest we:

  1. Create a 140-character headline.
  2. List 3 key messages.
  3. Reinforce the messages with stories, statistics, and examples. (Enter a word or phrase to represent a story.)

18. Develop talks around the senses, especially vision.

Incorporate these 18 speaking tips to inspire your audience. Click to tweet.

What one thing has worked well in your public speaking?

3 Ways to Make Tired Clichés Liven Up Your Creative Work

“Let’s have some new clichés.” —Samuel Goldwyn

A cliché is like a worn out shoe.
By Sgarton

People roll their eyes at others who talk in constant clichés. Writers and speakers are told to edit out clichés from their work. So, are these overused phrases, which often hit the nail on the head, not worth the paper they’re written on?

I think they’re often gems waiting for you to make them fresh or different. Here’s 3 ways to make clichés work for you. Even if you gag on my examples, you’ll get the idea.

1. Change a Word

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ambulance chaser. “You’ll find Victoria frequenting only high-class, posh, and trendy places. I tell you, the woman is an ambiance chaser.”

Blood is thicker than water. No matter how hard Eddie tried to buy Carl’s friendship with Steeler tickets and the keys to his Mustang, no way would Carl rat on his dad for Eddie. Blood was thicker than barter.


2. Rearrange the Words

Tickled her fancy: For some time, his gifts had failed to delight Olivia. And she’d quit laughing at his jokes. Why did he stay? He’d lost his fancy to tickle her.

Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bone to pick with you: Mom’s appraisng gaze suggested she had more bones that needed picking. (From my novel Calculated Risk.)

3. Expand the Phrase or Change the Meaning

Author: Qasinka
Author: Qasinka

Ace in the Hole: Dominic had been his ace in the hole, but Dominic’s hole was six feet deep. What was he going to do now?

Babe in the woods: The bleached blonde pursed her red lips and crooked her finger. Keeping her cat-eyed gaze on Dale, she swished toward the trees. Dale backed away. The vamp was the last babe he’d be caught in the woods with.

Better safe than sorry: A cop cuffed Elise and ushered her toward the cruiser. Max wiped her spittle from his face. Obviously, Elise didn’t care that jail was the only place she could hide from Frank. She might be safe, but she was still one sorry dame.

The next time you catch yourself using a cliché, don’t discard it immediately. See if you can wrangle it into an interesting twist. But use the rewrites of clichés sparingly.

Will you play? What rewrite can you come up with for: fifteen minutes of fame or let the cat out of the bag or another cliché of your choice?

5 Cautions in Adding Humor to Your Creative Works

Alpine Cow“The secret to humor is surprise. — Aristotle

We know humor adds much to engaging an audience. This is true whether our works are art pieces, presentations, dramas, novels, short stories or non-fiction. But we also know humor, unlike other elements in our creative works, has a greater chance of falling flat.

Here are tips that will make your humor less likely to produce deadpan stares or full-blown cringes.

Caution 1. Don’t keep trying to make something funny that’s resisting you. A good reason most likely lies behind the roadblock. The idea could be offensive or hurtful. The idea may need extensive background or setup and risks losing the audience. Or it may not be right for the setting of your work. Some ideas are too outdated to tickle current audiences.

See what you think of this example:

ID-10062080A 1958 film, Mon Oncle, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and other awards. It had audiences rolling, especially the kitchen scene. (I remember.) Here’s its IMDb blurb: “Monsieur Hulot visits the technology-driven world of his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, but he can’t quite fit into the surroundings.” Check out this short clip and decide. Timeless or passé humor?

Caution 2. Don’t overdo the humorous moment in length or drama. But do give the moment what it needs to be recognized as a humorous tidbit. Look for a balance.

Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King have appeared in films of their works for a bit of humor. You decide whether the film professionals gave their appearances the appropriate length and drama for the work. Here are YouTube clips showing Hitchcock’s cameo appearances and one of King’s.

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Caution 3. Don’t create humor that’s complicated and makes audiences work hard for their laugh. Many enjoy slapstick because it’s easy to “get.” Others prefer wit and humorous situations that lead them to their laughs.

You decide if the table ballets in films, Benny and Joon and in Gold Rush, are simple and humorous (and timeless). See both clips here starring Johnny Depp and Charlie Chaplin.

Caution 4. Don’t repeat witty or slapstick elements for the sole purpose that the humor will work a second or third time in the same work.

Image courtesy of Lavoview at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Lavoview at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unless perhaps you’re one of the Three Stooges, repetitions lose the element of surprise and become less entertaining with each re-appearance. Possibly, you can make the idea work again if you’re able to add a fresh angle.

Businessman Stepping on Banana Peel

Caution 5. Don’t include slapstick in writing, drama, or presentations unless it’s well planned and orchestrated.

Slapstick is defined as: “comedy based on deliberately clumsy actions and humorously embarrassing events.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) I think the key element is the humorously embarrassing event. Random clumsy actions alone have no story and can take away from the work. You decide if Mr. Bean, as he paints his room, has an effective embarrassing event for his clumsy actions.

What were your decisions on the film clips? What cautions do you have in using humor?

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