At the risk of putting myself out of business, I’m going to give you the only public speaking advice you’ll ever need …

The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s the simple ethic of reciprocity. If you don’t like to be treated a certain way, then you certainly shouldn’t be treating others that way.

While the Golden Rule is a nice guiding principle for our daily interactions, it is an absolute go-to principle for decision-making when you’re preparing to speak in front of an audience. Keep in mind, you have been an audience member more often than you’ve been a speaker and so you have a keen sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Use your experiences and preferences as guidelines:

If you’re wondering how long to make your talk, think about how long you can sit through someone talking.

If you’re wondering whether to use PowerPoint and, if so, what should be on the slides, think about what types of visuals appeal to you.

If you’re wondering whether you should engage the audience during your presentation and how, think about whether and how you like to be engaged.

If you’re wondering whether you should use the first few minutes to introduce yourself and establish credibility, think about whether you appreciate that or prefer it to be done another way.

If you’re wondering whether, given the option, you should sit or stand to make your presentation, think about which position you find more appropriate or impressive.

If you’re wondering whether you should use personal stories or not, think about how the personal stories of others have left an impact or not.

See? You have all the answers you need just from your own experiences, and those experiences are quite valuable and informative. Don’t let them go to waste or be forgotten.

Being the speaker doesn’t suddenly propel you into a different stratosphere than your audience. You’re simply an audience member whose turn it is to get up and speak. So remember at the podium what it’s like in the seats and you’ll do great!

Beth Levine

Beth Levine

Communications Coach at SmartMouth Communications
SmartMouth Founder and Principal Beth Noymer Levine is a Communications Coach who is emerging as one of the country’s leading voices on how to prepare and deliver speeches and presentations that actually work for both the audience and the speaker.
Beth Levine

Latest posts by Beth Levine (see all)