It's true: Bobby Umar knows a thing or two about how to kicka$$ at public speaking. He’s given nearly one thousand keynote speeches, including 5 TEDxTalks. His communication skills are so on-point, in fact, that Inc. Magazine named him one of the Top 100 Leadership Speakers, alongside such noteworthy giants as Richard Branson and Brené Brown. At this point, we’d be pretty surprised if Bobby sweats his speaking gigs at all.
But if you’re like us common folk, we still struggle with stage fright, low self-confidence or simply "not knowing where to start" every time we have to get up in front of a group of people and talk. Of course, Bobby Umar would argue that mastering the art of public speaking is a result of years of practice, but we don’t have time for that. Thus, we teased out some super valuable public speaking tips from Bobby that will help you stand up in front of an audience and kicka$$ the first (and second, and third) time around.
Public Speaking Tips from a TEDxTalk Pro
The fact is, having strong public speaking skills not only helps your personal development and brand (and thus, your career), but it helps you communicate in a way that gets you the results you want — be it raising awareness or money for a cause, mobilizing a team to reach a goal, or recruiting people or resources for a new project. Remember: your public speaking opportunity is just that: an opportunity. For what? To get a specific result. So here’s how to Get. Those. Results. aka “kicka$$” (thanks Bobby!):
#1: Focus on one main topic
“I choose a main theme, and write it out in one short sentence. Then I commit to a maximum of 3 takeaways with action steps for each. I usually start with a storyboard to get organized. I lay out the slides so I know exactly how I want my presentation to look. Then I collect the content. I choose the best template for each subtopic, to ensure I’m making my point. Lastly, I focus on the design of the slide—or leave it to Beautiful.ai to handle for me!”
#2: Get to know your audience
“Research who they are, and what they want to learn from you. Before a talk, or webinar, or presentation, I chat with work colleagues about what they’re hoping to get from my speech, to understand the various perspectives on the subject.
I also try and talk to members of my audience onsite, right before I present. I ask them questions like ‘What are some things you’re looking for when it comes to this topic? What are some things you’re hoping to learn?’ If they don’t make sense to weave in to the body of the presentation, then I address them at the end during Q&A. I’ll say, ‘I’ll now open the mic to anyone that has a question they want answered. Just raise your hands. One question I’ll start with was actually posed before I presented by Rick, who I met in the lobby. He asked…’ This sometimes helps loosen people enough to raise their hands."
#3: Use the “SDCS” method of storytelling
“This stands for Story, Data, Case, Summary. It's a helpful framework for your speech, and ensures a well-rounded, organized script.
Start with a personal story (S) or refer to an interesting news headline that went viral this month and relate it back to your main topic. Anecdotes are huge for storytelling—they bring your message to life. Next, cite data (D) for proof. Then, talk through a case study (C) that drove real results. Lastly, summarize (S) your speech and drive home the main takeaways.”
#4: Think “teach”
“See yourself as a teacher, not a speaker. You don’t have to be Barack Obama or Tony Robbins to be a good public speaker; you just have to teach your audience something they didn’t know before. That’s a big mindset shift, and one that should help you focus on what’s important about your presentation.
Take a tip from the best teachers out there and start with asking your audience a few questions to gauge what they really want to learn. This is also an easy way to lighten up a room and connect with your audience. It helps you come across as thoughtful and open. Ask for a show of hands, poll the audience, warm them up with a joke…”
#5: Use strong visual cues
“Strong visual storytelling with high-quality imagery not only helps influence and persuade your audience, but also emphasizes specific points you want to make that correspond to that image or graph or statistic. You can bring things to life in real time—with photography, video, graphics—which makes the presentation a more engaging, dynamic experience. And therefore more memorable.”
#6: Have stage presence
“Body language is 70% of the message. The words you say, the tone you use are important, but how you present yourself—smiling, open stance, wide legs, shoulders back, et cetera—communicates confidence. Walk around, walk to the edge of the stage and connect with people, make eye contact. When people are confident in you, they listen and learn.”
#7: Use stats to add strength
“Citing a verified statistic is a powerful way to drive a point home. So source data that supports your message, but only reports from respectable research firms or consultative institutions should make the cut. People can see through the fluff.
Here’s an example from a recent talk I gave about giving better presentations: ‘Why do you need to have a kickass presentation? Because results from a research survey published in Forbes show that 70% of professionals agree that strong presentation skills are critical for career success.’ Now that’s motivating, if you ask me.”
#8: Embrace your nerves
“Nerves are actually a good thing. They mean you care! So embrace them. Tell yourself, ‘I care and I want to do my best. I want people to get value from what I’m talking about.’
In other words, focus on the positives around the nervous energy. If you’re feeling panicky, envision your most confident, cool, calm, collected self on stage—it’s a basic visualization trick. Then become that visualized version of yourself in reality when you set foot on stage.”
Bonus: Mel Robbins knows a thing or two about visualization.
#9: End with a Call to Action
“At the very end of my speech, I always call my audience to action. I offer a gift through my website; or additional content that can provide value; or share my contact information and social media handles.
When I catch a break, I’m diligent about responding to comments and emails that come through—as well as asking for candid feedback on my talk” ‘Did my message come through? What did you take away from my session?’ It lets people know you really care.”
These 9 easy steps to public speaking success are a great start to boosting your confidence level, but if you want to take it to the next level, we've got a ton of helpful resources and ideas. One is to begin by reviewing some of Bobby Umar's most successful TEDxTalks, including Top Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs and The 5 C’s of Connection. Another is to watch his "How to Kicka$$ at Public Speaking" webinar, or read our posts on successful public speaking techniques and our five-step guide to standout presentations. Lastly, try out this next-gen cloud tool that designs your presentations for you.
But what about what NOT to do? We've got you covered as to the most popular "Don'ts" of public speaking in this blog post.