How to be a better public speaker

How to be a better public speaker

Avoid these seven deadly sins if you want to be a better public speaker.

Thou shalt not be...


RememberIt's Not About You! It's about your audience. Some people love being on stage and will say anything to keep the spotlight on them. You must put your audience first. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Why are they here? What do they need?
  • What do they know already?
  • What new, useful information can I give them?

In Storyteller Tactics, I created a card called Audience Profile to help.


Don't tell us stuff we can see for ourselves. A text-filled PowerPoint slide is Kryptonite for public speakers. Why listen to you, when we can just skim-read your slide? Never put more than half a dozen words on the screen at a time. Show and Tell is a useful guide.


Obviously you shouldn't lie. But, deeper than that, you should show authenticity. Don't just tell us you're 'passionate' or 'committed'; tell us a story about a moment when your commitment paid off. Trust Me, I'm an Expert will help you here. 


Don't keep telling the same old story. Create a Story Bank to keep track of who already knows the story you want to tell. If most people have heard it, you've got to find a new story.


If you promise new and useful information, you must deliver (or else you're just click bait). Story Hooks will help you make the right promise at the start of your talk - and deliver by the end.


Don't betray confidences, no matter how juicy the story. 


Know what point you're trying to make (and get to it!) - What's It About? was written to avoid this sin.

Storyteller Tactics, here to save your soul.

You’re invited to join Pip Club!

Level up your career and join 25,493 leaders getting practical tips on design, storytelling, workshops, leadership and news about new products and discounts.

No spam, no email sharing - ever. Privacy Policy

One of the few newsletters I look forward to.
— Dave Cunningham, Head of DesignOps @ NHS

Live Session: Rules, Cheats & Rebels
Live Session: Rules, Cheats & Rebels
“Tell us a rule, then show us someone breaking it” says Steve. “Now you’ve got my attention.”
Read More
Cold Call to Pitch Perfect in 3 Story Steps
Cold Call to Pitch Perfect in 3 Story Steps
Don't panic! Tell potential customers the stories they need to hear.
Read More
Why everyone hates your presentation (and what you can do about it)
Why everyone hates your presentation (and what you can do about it)
We've all sat through boring presentations. Here's how you can avoid yours being next.
Read More