How To Become A Public Speaker

Becoming a Keynote Speaker is one of the easiest things to call yourself. Being a good keynote speaker is a lot of hard work and difficult skill to perfect. I was quite fortunate in my ‘apprenticeship’ I learned the basic principles in my first job. Part of our leadership training is being able to deliver short lessons and presentations.

In this blog post I’m going to give you some hacks and ideas how you can learn to deliver you own keynote speech. There are no instant fixes! I know you don’t want to read this, I being honest. I can give you some short cuts I learned over the years.

People do not by goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.

Seth Godin

Story Telling.

This is one of the first lessons I learned in how to deliver a good speech. Learn how to tell a story, us humans love a story we have for thousands of years. Though-out our childhood we love to hear stories, we read fictional books and we watch made up films. Humans love a good story.

Start at the end

This bit is the easy bit, what do you want your audience to walk away with? What is your call to action? What is your end goal? What information do you need your audience to have? What do you want the people in front of you to do? There are several types of presentation we need to bear in mind.

  • Informative: This is all about providing information to your listener.
  • Instructional: Teaching a skill to someone or a group who may or may not have previous knowledge.
  • Arousing: This is all about the story, it often elicits a human response.
  • Persuasive: This reminds me of what a solicitor would do in a court of law.
  • Decision-making: This could be a business pitch, essentially you are asking an individual or a group to have a positive reaction to what you are saying.

There are 7 Types of Stories: Which One Is Your Theme Telling?

  • Overcoming the Monster. This type of story goes back through Beowulf to David and Goliath and surely a lot further than that. …
  • Rebirth. A story of renewal. …
  • Quest. A mission from point A to point B. …
  • Journey and Return. A story about transformation through travel and homecoming. …
  • Rags to Riches. …
  • Tragedy. …
  • Comedy.

My presentations are often a mixture of these story types. For example, predominately my speech is a journey about transformation, with a sprinkling of rebirth, some tragedy and lots of comedy. Humour is really important to explaining who I am.

Aristotle: Modes of Persuasion

The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, came up with an idea for what ‘communication theory’ actually is, he broke that idea down into three components.

  • Ethos: the credibility of the speaker, their achievements, title and experience.
  • Logos: this is the factual stuff, evidence and data. Too much of this stuff can make a presentation hard work for the listener. In my opinion delivering, just, facts and figures is a cop out. It’s too easy. If you are talking factual data, back it up with a story before hand. Set the scene. Let’s be honest raw data is boring.
  • Pathos: is the emotional appeal of your presentation, which incorporates some of the story types above. This is the good stuff, your presentation should be heavy with human emotional responses.

Human Responses

Here’s a rundown of those seven universal emotions, what they look like, and why we’re biologically hardwired to express them this way:
  • Anger. …
  • Fear. …
  • Disgust. …
  • Happiness. …
  • Sadness. …
  • Surprise. …
  • Contempt.

Final thoughts.

Identify your unique connection to your presentation topic. The audience will connect with your passion, your passion may need to be explained in detail.

The trick is to use emotion from your story to illicit a response. If you can do that your audience will remember your presentation.

What makes your heart sing 

Q1 What do you do? I’m a public speaker. (so what)

Q2 What are you passionate about? Helping other veterans and disabled people. (Meh, so what)

Q3 What makes your heart sing…. I was given another chance to live. I want people to live too, it doesn’t matter who they are, I want them to live their life in the best  possible way. I want them to take chances, move their bodies, connect with other people. I want them to encourage others to do the same thing too. Live. 

There are many good reasons why TED Talks are limited to just 18 minutes. Trust me speaking for just 18 minutes is a challenge if you have a lot of information. By forcing yourself to speak for 18 minutes, particularly if you are used to speaking for 45 minutes you really get to think about what you actually need to say. The longer the presentation the more the listener has to organise, comprehend and remember. The longest I speak for is 40 minutes and no longer, in fact I’ll always explain to a client less is more. You can have a question and answer session at the end for clarification.


You can not practice enough. Practice your presentation to friends and family, who won’t give you bad feedback. Practice to your co-workers, who will tell you it stinks. Join a speaking group, they’ll let you know how much you suck as well! It all helps trust me. If you are struggling to find people to help you check out Meet Up.

Using Technology.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

If you deliver speeches on a regular basis at some point your tech or someone else’s will break or won’t work correctly. Suck it up butter cup and go a cappella. Be comfortable delivering your keynote speech without the use of slides to technology. I’ve had to do this many times, most of the formal training I’ve had is without the use of a visual presentation.

The only way to do this?