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Want to give a great speech? Use these 5 tips to wow your audience | LinkedIn

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August 18, 2013

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Public speaking consistently ranks as people’s number one fear. Above death! Not sure I buy that people would rather be six feet under than talk in front of sixty people – but getting up in front of a group of people is certainly stressful.

Part of the worry is that we won’t be any good. We want to be that engaging, funny, and insightful speaker we love to hear. There is nothing like being a good public speaker. It’s a great reputation to have.

This week renown public speaking coach Bill Hoogterp is giving a free live workshop on creativeLIVE (Monday to Wednesday, 9am to 4pm pacific time) where he will take you through the step by step instructions on how to nail your next speech.

Ahead of his workshop, Bill shared the following five insights on the best language to use in a speech. I found it very helpful and pasted it below. Watch his free class next week to learn even more!

From Bill Hoogterp:

When a presentation is full of weak language choices, the audience is much more likely to tune out and disengage. Here are five ways to supercharge your presentations with strong, engaging language.

1. Get comfortable with silence

There is a Spanish proverb: The spoken word is silver but silence is gold. Little by little, as you become a more experienced speaker, you will start to see the power of silence.

During silence in a presentation, the audience is digesting what you just said. You are setting up what you are about to say. The audience is feeling what you are feeling, subconsciously. Your audience gains all of their understanding of the words you’ve just said during the silence that follows, not from the words themselves.

2. Identify and eliminate weak language

Weak language is any word or phrase that does not add value. Everyone knows that words like “um,” “like,” and “so” are useless filler, but we’re not as skilled at recognizing phrases that sound more sophisticated but are actually just as meaningless.

Look at the introduction below, and see if you can identify the weak language choices.

“Hi everyone, I’m Bill. I am, um, really glad to be here today to talk about speaking. Basically, what we’re here today to do is learn how to present well. The goal is to improve your public speaking as it applies to the different ways that you communicate. So let’s go ahead and get started!”

The answer? All of it is weak.

Every single word and phrase in that introduction was weak. None of it tells the audience anything they didn’t already know. If the first thirty seconds of a presentation offers nothing new, what do you think the audience assumes about the rest of the presentation? Weak language is not just a harmless habit. It’s the number one obstacle separating you from transformative audience engagement.

3. Paint pictures and evoke emotions

Imagine you have a paint brush in your hand and you are painting pictures with your words in the brain of the audience. Let’s say you are describing the color of someone’s shirt. How would we describe the shirt using weak language? We would say:

“He was wearing a red shirt.”

Now, describe the shirt using strong language:

“His shirt was fire engine red.”

If weak language is one of the main culprits undermining our presentations, then strong language is one of the most powerful tools we have for building them up. Strong language is memorable; because strong language paints pictures and evokes emotions, people will remember what we said.

4. Set a scene

The first words out of your mouth, in any presentation or meeting, should be a scene. No warm up or ramp up. No, “here is what we are going to talk about.” Start with a scene. Set the scene.

A scene can be a question, a story, a problem, a quote or a statistic. No matter what type, a scene should PUT the audience in the middle of the scene immediately. The scene will evoke an emotional reaction in your audience, and that is where you will lower their filters and make your connection. The more vivid and detailed a scene is, the more engaged the audience will be.

5. Mirror neurons

“Mirror neurons” cause us to subconsciously “mirror” what’s happening around us. A great example of mirror neurons firing away is when one person yawns in a room full of people.

What do the rest of us do? We yawn. When we see someone yawn, the mirror neurons in our brain say, “Me, too!”

Our presentations should strive for this “me, too” effect. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a handful of people at a meeting, to hundreds at a conference, or to millions on television. If you want the audience to go somewhere emotionally, you have to go there first.

You can’t put emotions into people. You can only draw them out.

Whether it is confidence, anger, ambition, or any other emotion you want to evoke in the audience, it has to come from within you. Your audience can “catch” these emotions from you because of mirror neurons. The emotion you are feeling will spread to them.

Featured on:Your Career

Posted by:Mika Salmi

via Want to give a great speech? Use these 5 tips to wow your audience | LinkedIn.


Born in 1964, business owner, from Woodbridge, VA, owns ExcitingAds! Inc. ( and blog ( He was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan. His elementary school was ST. Michael's Convent High School, Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan. Graduated high school from ST. Bonaventure's Convent High School, Hyderabad, Sind, Pakistan. His pre-med college was S. A. L. Govt. College, Mirpurkas, Sind, Pakistan. Graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan in 1990. Earned equivalency certification from Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA in 1994.

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