Storytelling Tips: What You Really Need to Know About Public Speaking

What You Really Need to Know to Be a Public Speaker
Sean Buvala is a public speaking and storytelling techniques coach in Arizona and the U.S.As a coach to speakers, trainers and presenters in Arizona and throughout the U.S., I interact with speaking veterans and those just starting out. With the “newbies,” there is always the question about if or when they should seek out some formal training. Many of these new speakers are concerned about all the rules and hoops they need to jump through to complete any one process.

While there certainly are some good reasons to seek out the stamp of approval of an organization you think provides helpful insight, do not let any group become the “Speaking Police” in your life. I believe that there are some core truths about speaking that you should be aware of as you develop your own unique presenting style. Here is my list of seven concepts I think a speaker needs to know:

1. Be yourself.

I would rather see a speaker who shows me their unique personality than listen yet again to another speaker clone. I am much more interested in a presenter who commits the “terrible sins” of walking in front of the projector light with their hands in their pockets who then gives me some new insights than listen to a dozen professional speakers who are full of plastic “correct” speaking techniques. Does your speaking style show me a bit about who you are as an individual? Are you the figurative fresh-air in a very stale room?

2. Be prepared.

Respect your audience enough to prepare for each presentation as if it was your first and your last. Nothing makes a better speaker than one who is completely comfortable with their topic. You have no doubt heard speakers who use one tired cliché and story after the other who never really say anything of value. Being witty is not a substitute for being prepared.

3. Provide genuine content.

When the audience leaves your presentation, will they truly have had the chance to experience a new way of thinking or have a new skill that they can immediately use? Your audience is giving you the gift of their time and (sometimes) their money. Are you giving them something that is well worth their gifts to you?

4. Improve your techniques.

Being a world-class speaker requires ongoing training. Seek out training from those speakers that you respect. However, do not become a slave to any one ideology or system.

5. Seek out new ideas.

There is always a new way of thinking just around the corner. Each of us only brings a fraction of knowledge to any subject. Look for the cutting-edge ideas about your speaking topics. Never be satisfied with your singular and same-old understanding of a topic.

6. Value the uniqueness of each audience.

After you have been speaking for many years, you will have presentations that you love to give. Do not give these rehashed presentations repeatedly as you move from audience to audience. Each group you speak to will need to know something just a bit different from the audience you had just before them. Spending time with the event organizer as you try to understand the needs of their group is critical. Be audience focused.

7. Respect the needs of your sponsor.

Your sponsor or organizer has selected you over the many others they could have booked. Reward them by making their job easier. Never go over your allotted time. Be sure you get any requested information to the organizer on time. Show up early to the event so they do not have to worry if their speaker will be arriving. After the event, send a hand-written thank you note.

These are just seven core ideas. Which of these are you already incorporating into your work? Where do you need to improve? Each of us has a unique view on the world. Your prepared and respectful presentations should be opportunities for both the audience and you to grow in knowledge and understanding.


The author, Sean Buvala, offers a multi-day training workshop that focuses on developing your unique skills and presentation style. Working in a small group, you will receive coaching and feedback that will help you be the best speaker you can be while still keeping your own unique style and flair. You will also learn to apply the “Ancient Secret” of storytelling techniques to truly makes memorable presentations. To learn more about our next event, please visit today. You can also follow Sean on twitter at for free daily tips and articles.

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