Public Speaking Secrets From a CEO Who Spoke to 10,000 People in 1 Year

As a CEO who has addressed audiences totaling over 10,000 in just one year, I’ve learned that effective public speaking is not just about delivering a message; it’s about creating an experience that resonates. Here, I’ll share personal insights and expert tips that have profoundly enhanced my ability to communicate as a leader.

1. Start with a story.

Let me take you back to a turning point in my career. It was during a crucial industry conference, facing a room full of expectant faces, that I realised the immense power of storytelling. Starting with a personal anecdote about challenges we faced during a product launch not only captured the audience’s attention but also humanised me as a speaker. Stories are not just entertaining; they make complex concepts relatable and memorable. According to a study by Stanford University, stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.

Insider Tip: Always anchor your story to the main theme of your presentation to maintain relevance and drive your point home.

2. Use the rule of three.

The rule of three is a powerful speechwriting technique based on the principle that ideas presented in threes are inherently more interesting, easier to remember, and more impactful. I’ve used this approach in many presentations, such as when I outlined our company’s vision, mission, and core values. This not only structures your speech effectively but also helps the audience stay engaged and retain the information.

Learn more about the rule of three and its effectiveness in speechwriting here.

Power of 3

3. Use the power of silence.

Silence is a speaker’s secret weapon. In one of my keynote speeches, I paused for a few seconds after posing a provocative question. This silence not only grabbed everyone’s attention but also gave them a moment to think deeply, creating an emotional impact. Strategic pauses can help emphasize points and give your audience time to absorb the information.

Insider Tip: Practice pausing at key moments during your speech to allow your message to resonate more profoundly.

4. Use your hands.

Body language can communicate confidence and clarity. I make a conscious effort to use gestures that complement and enhance my words. For instance, showing numbers with your fingers or moving your hands apart to demonstrate growth. Research from Columbia University highlights that effective hand gestures can significantly increase the audience’s engagement and retention of the message.

5. Use your voice.

Varying your tone, pitch, and pace can keep your speech dynamic and prevent monotony. I once attended a workshop by a renowned voice coach who emphasized the importance of modulation to convey passion and urgency. By adjusting my vocal delivery based on the content, I’ve been able to keep my audience engaged from start to finish.

6. Use your eyes.

Maintaining eye contact can make your audience feel involved and valued. During a large conference, rather than scanning the crowd, I focus on making brief eye contact with individual attendees across the room. This not only makes the interaction more personal but also helps in holding the attention of the audience throughout the session.

Real-Life Example: Overcoming Stage Fright

Growing up, Lisa was always terrified of speaking in front of a crowd. However, when she landed a job that required regular presentations, she knew she had to overcome her fear. Remembering the advice of a seasoned speaker, she decided to start each presentation with a personal story to engage her audience. After implementing this tactic, she noticed a significant increase in the audience’s interest and engagement.

Lisa also found that using the rule of three helped structure her points effectively, making her presentation more memorable. By incorporating pauses for emphasis, she was able to use the power of silence to keep the audience hanging on to her every word.

Through continuous practice and feedback from her colleague, Lisa gradually became more comfortable on stage. By being authentic, using gestures, modulating her voice, making eye contact, and using movement purposefully, she transformed from a nervous speaker to a confident one, captivating audiences of all sizes.

7. Use your feet.

Moving around the stage can be an effective way to energize your audience and make your presentation more dynamic. I remember walking towards the audience during a crucial point in my speech; this movement underscored the importance of the moment and captured everyone’s attention. However, it’s vital to balance this so that it feels natural rather than distracting.

Insider Tip: Practice your movements during rehearsals to find a natural rhythm and pace that complements your speaking style.

8. Be yourself.

Authenticity resonates. Early in my career, I tried mimicking the styles of speakers I admired, which felt unnatural and did not sit well with my audience. Over time, I’ve learned that being myself — quirks and all — makes my speeches more genuine and relatable. Your authenticity is your greatest asset as a speaker.

Be Yourelf

9. Practice, practice, practice.

There’s no substitute for practice. Before a major keynote, I rehearse extensively, sometimes in front of a mirror, other times recording myself to critique my delivery. This not only boosts my confidence but also helps refine my content and delivery. Remember, practice does not make perfect, but it does make permanent.

10. Get feedback from someone you trust.

Feedback is crucial. After every presentation, I seek out feedback from trusted colleagues and mentors. This has been instrumental in honing my skills. Constructive criticism can provide new perspectives and areas for improvement that you might overlook.

Insider Tip: Choose a feedback partner who understands your speaking style and the context of your presentations for the most useful insights.

Want to become a better speaker?

Embracing these tips has not only enhanced my public speaking skills but also transformed the way I connect with my audience, making each opportunity to speak a chance to inspire, engage, and lead more effectively. Whether addressing a boardroom or an auditorium, the art of public speaking is continually evolving. Keep learning, keep practicing, and keep engaging your audience with renewed vigor and strategy.

Remember, every speech is a performance, and every audience deserves your best. Happy speaking!

Executive Speaker

With over a decade of experience in executive leadership and public speaking, our author has become a trusted voice in the realm of effective communication. Holding an MBA with a focus on organisational communication from London Business School, they have not only spoken to audiences of over 10,000 people in a single year but have also conducted in-depth research on the impact of storytelling in public speaking. Their insights have been featured in renowned publications such as Harvard Business Review and Forbes, where they have shared practical tips on harnessing the power of silence and body language in presentations. Additionally, their coaching sessions have been praised for their personalised approach, drawing on the latest studies in psychology and communication to help individuals enhance their speaking skills and leadership presence.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Public Speaking Academy Ltd. All Rights Reserved. | Website Terms & Conditions | Coaching Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy