Public Speaking Tips

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As a service to my readers, students, clients and members of my programs I am always researching, investigating and looking for emerging solutions that will help to improve public speaking skills and to reduce anxiety about giving presentations. I am also looking for new ways of stating what for some are obvious recommendations, but are not so obvious for others. I have given hundreds of recommendations of my own on the subject of public speaking, presenting and leading seminars. However, I sometimes find others who have said some things better, more concise or just beautifully and… differently. I recently came across an article online here with some great public speaking tips. It was as response to a question that someone asked.

Here is the question:

“I have a massive fear of public speaking as I’m sure most can relate. It’s when my social anxiety reaches its absolute worst. I’m in school and I want to eventually graduate but I know I’m going to have to give presentations I want to see someone who specializes in public speaking fears because I can’t just go from this to toastmasters. It’s too big of a leap. So does anyone know if there are specialists who can provide a beginner platform for people who are scared sh… or specialize in this fear?”

Here is the response that was given:

“While I don’t know any specific specialist by name, I would highly recommend taking any beginner’s public speaking course. I engage in periodic public speaking engagements as part of my occupation.”

“I would be happy to share some public speaking tips and prepping techniques that I’ve learned on the way:

1) Organize your speaking points. A good speech, like a good essay, is well organized and easy to follow. Most times, though not always, a public speaking event is educational so your audience’s perception of a good speech depends a great deal on the content and how it’s presented. Create a basic outline of the speech that connects the main topics well with each other and memorize it.

2) Rehearse. Memorizing your speech and recalling it when the time comes are two related, but different, aspects. You want to present yourself as an expert on the topic at hand, and to this requires that you don’t keep looking down at your notecards or a sheet of paper. In fact, do away with these tools completely by memorizing the speech. If you practice it enough, this will come fairly easy. Many people will say to practice your speech in front of a mirror. This is good advice but I also found that practicing it in the shower helps a lot too. The sound of the water requires one to project their voice, which is obviously important.

3) Begin your speech in a loud, clear voice. Even if you’re not super-confident in the beginning, starting loud and clear projects confidence that will actually make you become more confident throughout the speech. It helps to greet your audience first with this, establishing familiarity, and breaking down the fourth wall.

4) Your hands. Don’t worry about gesturing with your hands. This is a common mistake among new public speakers. They overly concern themselves with their hands, which causes them to gesticulate too much, which is distracting. As you convey your message, your hands will automatically emphasize that message effortlessly.

5) Eye contact. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to look directly into the eyes of your audience. What works better is to look “through” them. It has the same effect without being too intimate and direct. Of course, you want to scan your eyes through the entire room periodically and naturally.

6) If you’ve practiced enough, the speech itself should be almost second nature by now. This is why I emphasize the practice element so much. You won’t have to think about what you’re saying because you’ve said it so often many times before.

7) Conclusion. Do NOT say, “In conclusion…” Just go over the main topics you just covered briefly to summarize. At the end, thank your audience.”

So… my friends, I hope you find the above public speaking tips helpful.

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Speak Anyway

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So you are an experienced speaker and have presented to thousands of audiences across the world! Today you are about to give another presentation on one of your signature topics. As you are about to step up to the podium, you notice that familiar feeling in your stomach… a sensation that some have identified as ‘butterflies in the stomach’… What is this? A little anxiety? Fear?You step up and speak anyway!

Or you are a minister and it is that time of the week – Sunday – when you stand and deliver your sermon in front of your huge congregation. Not only are there thousands of people in your mega-church, there are a few million people who are about to watch you on television… hanging on to your every word….hoping for some relief from the awful burdens they are carrying. As you prepare to ‘stand and deliver’ you feel that familiar tension across your shoulders… a little sweat across your forehead (not good for the TV cameras)… you clear your throat from the tingling sensation and tension… it is time… and you say to yourself…”Here I go…” You step up and speak anyway!

Or you are a political leader… top of the world… maybe even the President of the United States… and it is election time. You won the last election in large measure based on your ability to connect with audiences with skillful and emotionally moving deliveries! Now… four years later… it is time to step up again… You have gained respect as one of the best orators in the world… Today you are about to deliver an important speech… but as President… every speech is important. Every word is analyzed. Every gesture is reviewed. Even the look on your face will be examined. And some of your words will be replayed a million times… But you have done this before… almost everyday of the last five years… So here you go again… you are ready… you are pumped up… the stakes are high… people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake… the Democratic agenda is at stake… your legacy is at stake… with every speech… But you are smooth… you are polished… you have thought deeply about what you are going to say… and about how you are going to say it… Your speech writers have done a darn good job as usual… You have practiced… You are ready… Here we go… And then… you recognize “Here is that feeling… again…” It never fails to visit you on these occasions… a slight tremor in the hands… a twitch of your eyelids… a trickle of sweat under your arms… a miniature level of breathlessness… In any case, you step up and speak anyway!

Really? Even after thousands of speeches? Even after presenting to millions of people? Even after being seen as a great orator, a skillful speaker, or a professional presenter at the top of the game?

Yes! The fear still comes… the butterflies still form…

But the difference between experienced speakers and novices is that they have learned how to “Feel the Fear & Speak Anyway“.


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One of the keys to giving effective presentations and keynotes is the artful use of your body. This includes your hands, torso, face, and eyes! Of course the very best presenters and public speakers practice incessantly on how to use these body parts to capture and captivate their audiences. By practicing they make these planned movements seem very natural… and in reality after months and even years of practice… they are natural!

Not only must you pay attention to your body, you must also pay attention to your voice: tone, tempo, pitch, speed/pace, volume, diction and clarity! All of these are included in ‘body language’ which some theorists contend is 60+ percent of your communication (versus the words/content you actually speak/present).

The body will move and it will speak… whether you direct it or not! The question is this? What is your body doing while you are presenting? And… move importantly… how are audience members interpreting those movements?

One of your key objectives is to learn to use your body language for enhanced audience impact!

If you fail to heed the importance of ‘body language’ it will limit your effectiveness and reduce your ability to influence your audience.
So which movements are limiting and distracting? Here are some examples:

  • Moving from one foot to the other
  • Rocking back and forth, to and fro
  • Gripping the lectern as if your life depended on it
  • Tapping your fingers on the lectern… or some other nervous tick – like flicking your tongue across your lips or smacking your lips
  • Touching your clothes (e.g. tie, buttons, etc.) or your watch
  • Placing your hands in your pockets
  • Fixing your hair
  • Tweaking your eyeglasses
  • Using body movements that are not in sync with what you are saying… (e.g. nodding your head while saying something that indicates ‘no’)
  • Tapping your feet
  • Looking at your watch or at the clock in the back of the room
  • Pulling your beard
  • Using gestures that do not match your content… like pointing behind you while speaking about going forward.
  • Smiling at inappropriate times or failure to smile appropriately during lighthearted moments

The above examples are just a small subset of the many movements that audiences ordinarily find distracting and which diminish your effectiveness. From my experience as a coach and mentor of even seasoned and veteran speakers and presenters, many of us are not aware of our unintended and unplanned movements that make during our presentations.

If you are doing some of these, how do you fix them? I have benefited tremendously… and continue to benefit from the following recommendations:

  1. Video yourself giving a presentation. Let me be clear… video yourself giving a ‘live presentation’ before a real audience! It is key that you get a picture of the real deal – when you are under pressure, when you know that your every movement and every utter are being carefully noted and observed by an audience.  Get a notebook and carefully review the video. Make a list of all of the extraneous movements and unintended body language (including vocal characteristics).  I recommend that you review the tape at least 12 times! The more you review – the more you get to see what your audience sees and hear what your audience hears. You become very familiar with you – the speaker and presenter. Prior to this video… all you had were your own impressions of ‘how’ good (or bad) you thought you were. You may have also scored yourself based on audience feedback and evaluations. However, those feedback mechanisms pale in comparison to a videotaped presentation before a life audience. You are about to learn everything about yourself.
  2. Having noted all of the issues you saw… practice eliminating, minimizing, changing and improving.  Select one major element at a time to work on. For example, if the you have the annoying habit of using fillers such as ‘ahh’ and ‘uhm’, you will need to focus on that one element in your speech. Additionally, the use of fillers might be a signal that you have to slow down your speech…. Or that you have to better prepare yourself and become more familiar with your material.  In another example, pacing to and fro across the podium, you need to practice standing in one place. The use of the podium and stage is an art that has elements that very few speakers and presenters even know exist. That is another skill and knowledge gap that we fill in our training and coaching at  However, the simple solution if you have that problem and don’t have access to advanced training is to stay in one place… at the lectern!
  3. When reviewing your video, look for those areas where you need to add elements and movements to your speech. In other words… not only do you need to eliminate some movements… sometimes you need to add the right type of movements for emphasis and impact. To find out more about this join for coaching or our regular training. Or, purchase DVDs of advanced speakers and watch them carefully noting how their movements are carefully synchronized and choreographed with specific elements (time/moment, story, character, etc.)  within their speech.
  4. Many of your movements might emanate from nervousness or downright fear. First of all if you suffer from glossophobia, you can get help from our Feel the Fear & Speak Anyway System of 21 Videos and 30+ strategies! Get it today if you need help. In any case…. Get help if you suffer from public speaking fear! If your nervousness is just that – butterflies that everyone gets before they give a speech – then there are tons of things you can do to neutralize – and in some cases – maximize and build momentum from the nervousness. Get more information here.
  5. Work on eliminating nervousness when delivering your speech.  This will come as you get more familiar with your material.  This will also come as you take the time to focus on delivering your message instead of focusing on the feelings of fear and anxiety.

Finally, as indicated above it is crucial that you absolutely control all of your body language when presenting or giving a speech. Doing so will empower you and propel you to deliver a presentation of poise, precision and passion.

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Trans-diagnostic Approach

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Research Validates Our Approach

New research indicates that multiple approaches have the best outcomes for the treatment of phobias and various kinds of anxieties. Patients who suffered from fears such as the fear of public speaking, fear of spiders, fear of heights, or other types of anxieties improved most when they had a variety of treatments which included cognitive behavioral therapy.

Researchers used a ‘trans-diagnostic’ approach which involved the application of one set of principles with a broad spectrum of anxiety disorders. These findings come from over ten years of of research, four separate clinical trials and the completion of a five-year grant funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

The study even demonstrated positive outcomes with extremely debilitating disorders such as panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders!

According to Peter Norton, associate professor in clinical psychology and director of the Anxiety Disorder Clinic at the University of Houston (UH)., “If you treat your principal diagnosis, such as social phobia and you hate public speaking, you are going to show improvement on some of your secondary diagnosis. Your mood is going to get a little better, your fear of heights might dissipate. So there is some effect there, but what we find is when we approach things with a transdiagnostic approach, we see a much bigger impact on comorbid diagnoses.”

Norton indicated that in his research study, over two-thirds of comorbid diagnoses went away, versus what was typically found when treating a specific diagnosis such as a panic disorder, where only about 40 percent of people ordinarily show that sort of remission in their secondary diagnosis. He suggested that the transdiagnostic treatment approach is more efficient in treating the whole person rather than just treating the diagnosis, then treating the next diagnoses.

This study is one that validates Speak-Train’s approach to dealing with the fear of public speaking in our video training: The Feel the Fear & Speak Anyway System. In this system, individuals who suffer from the fear of public speaking get direct instructions in 21 videos. The systematic method involves over 30 strategies drawn from neuroscience, clinical psychology and neuro-linguistic programming and hypnotherapy. Some of the techniques include cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivational therapy, relaxation training and brief therapeutic meditation.

To read the full study click here .

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3 Myths about the Fear of Public Speaking.

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Here are three myths that keep many presenters from being their very best. Following each myth is a valuable tip that can help you neutralize the myth!

1. Myth: Everyone is looking at me
Fact: Everyone is thinking about themselves. When you’re speaking you feel like everyone is waiting on bated breath for your next sentence. Truth is – it’s actually harder to have everyone listening intently! Members of toastmasters, professional speakers and presenters try and work hard on our listening skills, but the fact of the matter is that every once in awhile, things are going to slip into your brain – did I remember to send that email? What should I have for dinner? Are all those eyes focused on me? What are they thinking? It’s human nature for us to be self-involved.  Here is another fact to keep in mind: Even if there are three hundred or three thousand persons in your audience – each person is listening to you as an individual… they are watching you as an individual… and they are assessing you as an individual. So – speak to each person, one person at a time…!!!

2. Myth: I need to be perfect
Fact: Nothing is perfect! No one is perfect! There is hardly anything in life that can be done with perfection. This is especially true in public speaking and presenting. You may think someone is a great public speaker, and then when they’re finished their speech they reveal privately that they missed their punch line that was supposed to bring the speech together at the end! The people that you feel are the best public speakers are usually those with the most practice in ad lib, and also who don’t let the small mistakes impact their performance.

3. Myth: I’m afraid that I will freeze or get stuck and won’t be able to carry on
Fact: No you won’t freeze. Yes, you may stumble. But, quite often the audience members are so wrapped up in listening to their thoughts about what you are saying that they don’t even notice your stumble. And if they do… they quickly realize that you are human, and begin rooting for you!  What can you do? Memorization can help! Rehearsing your speech and giving yourself cue cards with prompt words instead of sentences will help you deliver a better speech. When you memorize your speech, you have far better chances of being able to get back on track when you lose your way. Rehearsing, making prompting cue cards, and also having slides/images will greatly assist in your delivery of your speech.

So those are three myths and three tips to help you survive and thrive when you present and speak in public!

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Triggers for Public Speaking Anxiety

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In this article we feature some of the things that trigger speaking related anxieties and we offer some solutions.   Fear of public speaking may be triggered for a number of different reasons.   For example, a child who grows up feeling anxious, and then has a teacher who insists that he or she speaks in front of the class despite their pleas to the contrary, may find that in later years they are highly fearful of speaking in front of others.   If the speaker has a speech impediment such as a stutter, or facial or jaw problems that affect their speech, this may contribute to the fear of public speaking. Or, if the speaker feels powerless or incompetent or simply uncomfortable in a new situation, then they may also develop a fear of public speaking.

Incorrect mental rehearsal may do a lot of damage to confidence, as the would-be speaker imagines forgetting their words, not being able to speak, the words coming out mumbled or jumbled, forgetting their place, or not knowing an answer to a question.   This kind of mental practice makes it very difficult to feel confident and relaxed by the time the speaker gets to speak. Not only that, there is often a critical inner voice, saying how bad you look, how no-one will listen to you, how awful you’ll be, etcetera, etcetera, and this further undermines confidence.

What can be done about these fears?

Deep breathing is a very effective tool for reducing those feelings of being threatened, or endangered, and has been well-researched from a physiological and psychological standpoint. Physiologically, deep breathing encourages the decrease of cortisol and adrenaline, which are the stress hormones that kick in when anxious, fearful or phobic of some thing or event.   By practising at least three slow deep breaths in and out, using the tummy muscles to help release the breath and to draw in the breath, the body can be trained to slow down and thus positively affects the mind as the stress levels reduce.

The more one is overwhelmed with emotion, the less able one is to be able to think clearly. Emotion up, cognitive ability down.   Follow the Boy Scout’s motto of “Be Prepared”!

Breathing – Script Preparation – Verbal Rehearsal  

Know what you want to say, have prepared notes or a script and rehearse the words aloud so that the vocal chords get practise in speaking. If someone doesn’t talk very much, then the vocal chords don’t get a workout. This is why singers practise deep breathing and the scales prior to a performance to warm up their vocal chords. Imagine speaking clearly, hear yourself speaking confidently, and filling the space with a magnetic presence.

Fingertips Together

Another tip is to put your finger tips lightly together to make a relaxed basket out of your hands. This is a position that brings together the opposing electrical polarities of the fingertips and helps energy to settle and relax, and also your mind to slow down.

Stop Those Wild Imaginings

Finally, take control of those thoughts because the more the thoughts run wild and the person sees and hears mistakes in his or her imagination, the more potential there is for increased fear. Panic may set in when there is fear of the fear occurring so stopping those thoughts as quickly as possible is often very helpful.

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Welcome to Successful Training and Speaking!

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You have the knowledge. You are highly skilled! You are effective at what you do. And, you have success under your belt. Now, you would like to instruct and train others so that they can share in your knowledge, skills and expertise.

Hi! My name is Marcus Mottley. I am a clinical psychologist, executive coach and organizational consultant. I am also an author, speaker, certified training manager and certified seminar leader. I have been teaching, coaching and counseling  for over thirty-five years.

I have helped others make the transition from their primary profession to one where they are now successful trainers, speakers and seminar leaders. They came from backgrounds in education, engineering, information technology, sales, legal services, construction services, home improvement, law enforcement and criminal justice, accounting and financial services, nursing, medicine, social work, human resources and management.

Throughout my hears of helping others… I have had coaches and mentors who have helped me. I listened, I learned and I applied their lessons and their teachings. I have benefited because they were willing to share!

How about you? Do you want to share your knowledge and expertise with others? Do you want to get paid well (very well) to do so?

If your answer is yes… then you are in the right place. Over the next few months this site will be transformed into a cutting edge resource to help individuals like you make the transition to be effective trainers, speakers and seminar leaders.

You will have access to hundreds (eventually – thousands) of resources that will guide you step by step on how to be successful trainers, speakers and seminar leaders. You will have access to how-to manuals, how-to audios and videos, teleseminars and information that you wont be able to get from any single place in the world.

This will be your one-stop resource and your personal training vault.


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