Public Speaking With a Purpose – Part 2

Regardless of how good you are as a public or professional speaker, you can always get better.


In speech giving, frequently your level of self-confidence will be directly proportionate to the quality of both your speech and its delivery. The two important elements of self-confidence are preparation and practice.

Excellent speech preparation includes: mastery of topic (even if you just did the research), flow of thought and/or persuasion, the quality of your PowerPoint (if you select to use it), planned emotional peeks and valleys, planned emotional releases through humor, and correct length of time. Only amateurs go over their time!

Practice is a whole different issue; defective practice yields defective speeches. While everyone wants their speech to appear to be “fresh” relying on your adlib or improve abilities is surely a mistake. While I would never recommend learning a speech word for word, I do however; recommend that you memorize your outline. Also work in your timing, allowing for audience laughter, which indeed adds minutes to your speech. If you can deliver, in your living room, a great speech to your spouse, significant other, or your children; your speech will be a hit with its intended audience.

Guard the Prime Time

If you were to ask most speakers just before they took the podium, why they were there, the most frequent answers would be:
“I was invited to speak.”
“I don’t know why I was invited to speak.”
“I’ve got some things I want to get off my chest.”
“I was roped into it.”
“I don’t know how I get into messes like this.”

While there are many reasons to stand in front of an audience, always remember this; for you, it’s your prime time. You will be remembered by your words; powerful or not…persuasive, or not…caring, or not.

The next time you take to the podium (by the way, look up podium; not something you stand at, but rather on) consider others by recognizing this is your prime time. Guard it well.

Make Every Speech an Event

When you get to the point that you are giving “just another speech,” don’t! Nobody is interested in “just another speech” but very interested in what you have to say that will make their lives better. When you give “just another speech” everyone in the audience knows it, and generally they quickly zone-out and become disruptive.

The solution is to see each speech as an event. One of my early mentors, Lee Andree Davis, who I have frequently referred to as a “diamond in a garbage can” would remind me to make all my activities with my children an EVENT. Not that I have always been successful at it, I have kept his words in the back on my mind. As an example, the other day I was driving with my older son, who was home from college for the holidays, on Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu. I suggested stopping for a bite to eat. So I took him to Paradise Cove, a fabulous location, yes in a private cove and right on the beach. It was the perfect Southern California winter day; sunny, warm, no wind and a calm ocean. The perfect day and location made our lunch soirée an EVENT to be remembered.

My continual challenge for you is to similarly make every one of your speeches an EVENT. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of mediocrity. Never just stand in front of a group of people and talk. Honor them, their time, and their intelligence by making your speech an EVENT.

Let the Diamond Show Through

Above, I suggested that you make every speech an event. I mentioned, Lee Andree Davis, who I have frequently referred to as a “diamond in a garbage can.” What I mean by this analogy is that Lee had a heart of gold but wrapped it up in such a coarse package that few were able to see his diamond.

How this relates to every person that steps onto the platform, literally or figuratively, is in relation to authenticity-what many say is the number one element to a great speech. Will you take the risk of authenticity? It is easy to stand upon the platform and be “Speaker Guy or Gal,” however it is difficult to be vulnerable enough to let your authentic diamond show through. This year, more so than in any year past, I’m going to work on letting my diamond show through, perhaps you’d like to do the same?

Love Your Audience

Yes, I know it might sound a bit odd coming from a high-content speaker like me. However, the advice is sound! Think about it, you have the attention of a number of persons waiting to hear what you have to say; they are giving a piece of their lives to you, why not respect that?

While you are waiting to speak, think about the above, it will both relax you and put you in the correct frame of mind. When you start your speech, send “mental” appreciation to your audience. This appreciation will also show up in your voice, facial expression, and body language. It is a great way to start a speech. Try to keep the idea of “loving your audience” in your conscious mind throughout your speech; I assure you, it will make a positive difference.

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Ed Rigsbee, CSP, is also the author of PartnerShift-How to Profit from the Partnering Trend and The Art of Partnering. Rigsbee has over 1,500 published articles to his credit and is a regular keynote presenter at corporate and trade association conferences teaching North America how to access Your Collaborative Advantage. He can be reached at or

Ed Rigsbee is also the Founder and Executive Director of Cigar PEG Educational Institute, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) public charity based in California.

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