Transform Amateur Speakers to MVPS (Most Valuable Presenters)

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Communicating the innovations of your organization’s field when led by passion has the opportunity to open minds and solve seemingly unsolvable problems. This is a interesting line to walk when ingenious experts who usually work in isolation and are not comfortable speaking to a crowd. Being able to share new concepts that could change how your field functions takes skills not always fully cultivated. Here are a few tips to turn your field experts into extraordinary speakers.

Be confident in your stance before you even say a word.

Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, reveals how body language communicates with your audience before you even say a word in her LinkedIn course, Body Language for Leaders. How a speaker holds their body and walks up to the podium is the first signal to the room whether they are a viable source to be listened to. Taking the time to breath and walk with sure steps and tall posture without hurrying may sound simple, but this lets everyone in the room relax and know they aren’t wasting their time. Allow the body to paint a confident picture by embodying a speaker you might admire. Observing videos of strong leaders such as Michelle Obama, Tony Robbins, or a modeling after a leader in your organization can lend inspiration to how you want your body language to communicate your expertise.

Tell a story they’ve been dying to hear.

When you have important information to share it is helpful to sit down and think about how to package the information in a way that is palatable. Who is your audience? What are their challenges? Annie Neimand speaks to this in her article, “How to Tell Stories About Complex Issues”, in Stanford Social Innovation Review. When beginning to shape a speech we start with the raw data. Asking for help from more experienced speakers can assist you if you have trouble translating your information into a story. The true art begins with shaping and connecting it into a story of an individual. This can be the spark to get people to understand a new concept. “Stories that anchor complex issues in the lives of individuals are not only more engaging, but also more likely to change people’s behavior.” Draw them in and create rapport to enlist their attention.

Practice makes perfect.

Once you have written a speech that will capture your audience it is helpful to practice it aloud in front of friends, family, or a mentor who has speaking experience. More than once. Many times, if possible. This can show you where there is awkward wording, run on sentences, or concepts that don’t work quite right when said aloud. This will also allow you to become more comfortable with the material. Play around with it and even try it in different accents to free yourself up a little bit. The more it is spoken, the deeper in your subconscious it will be imbedded. This will aide you when the adrenaline brought on by the audience encompasses you. Take a breath and know that you’ve got this!

We at Van Petten Group have the pleasure of working with many great thought leaders that share how to innovate our partner organizations within panels and general convention speaking opportunities. Valuable information brings us all forward together and with these few tips, we know you’ll have a steady foundation to speak confidently at your next event or meeting.


Megan Van Petten

Van Petten Group, Inc.

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