Senior Strategic Partner, Laura Dillingham has many talents:  Teambuilding, Coaching, Emotional Intelligence Training, Leadership Development and on the list goes!  Probably her greatest skill is Public Speaking.  The need for strong public speaking skills is ever present, regardless of the line of work you are in.  Pay close attention to this week’s Power Idea; Laura has packed it with many great strengths to improve your public speaking skills. 

Is What You Say More Important Than How You Say It?

In college, I withdrew from public speaking class every semester even though I needed it to graduate. It was agony for me. If anyone would have told me I would end up standing in front of a class size ranging from 12-35 people, presenting to groups of 300 or more, or that I would be the Public Information Officer for an Arizona State agency with a camera in my face and a reporter asking really tough questions I would have laughed, probably hysterically. I wanted to be an elementary school teacher and kids weren’t hard to speak in front of, were they? Yeah right! If you want a brutally honest audience talk to kids. If you weren’t born with natural eloquence, public speaking can be remarkably nerve-racking and one of the most frightening things you will ever do.

If you want to be a great public speaker you need to develop a personal speaking style. I’m not always the most eloquent public speaker, however, I make up for it by packing my presentations with enthusiasm, unique and most times proprietary data and lots of useful content. It doesn’t hurt that I have a wicked sense of humor because I believe if people are engaged and laugh then they will remember.

I’ve learned many lessons over the years so I’m going to give you some helpful pointers; however, I will always strongly suggest that you take a class in public speaking. After you’ve completed it you may want to think about joining Toastmasters or another organization that will help you continue to improve.


  • Develop your presentation (tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them).
  • Prepare, Rehearse, Organize (PRO), practice, practice, practice and practice some more.
  • Arrive early; know the space layout, equipment, materials and finalize details.
  • Practice in the environment you are going to present in if possible, use the equipment.
  • Use multiple mediums; role-playing, power point, colors, handouts, guest speakers, etc. Materials should complement your presentation, not replace you.
  • SMILE (the shortest distance between two people is a smile) AND BREATHE.
  • Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm, one suggestion is to exercise earlier in the day because it will help boost endorphins.
  • NO PREGNANT PAUSES – EVER! Slow down and speak clearly; time goes slow for you and fast for the audience.
  • Actively engage the audience. (Invite questions, give examples or present situations and ask the audience what they think or how they would solve something.)
  • Be entertaining. You can laugh, it’s ok. Only tell jokes if you are good at it.
  • Be aware of body language; practice confident body language. (Take care with your appearance and personal hygiene, keep styles current.)
  • Admit you don’t know everything or have all the answers. If it’s important have a way to share critical information at a later date.

It doesn’t matter what your job is or whether you’re presenting to one person or a thousand. Is what you say more important than how you say it? It is if you want your audience to remember it.

We hope you have enjoyed this Power Idea.  If you want to know more about Public Speaking, don’t hesitate to contact us at and we will be happy to set a time to talk.

Have a Great Week!