B-T-B Copy Clinic


How to give a successful presentation

Dr. Rob Gilbert is one of the country's top motivational speakers and a master of teaching presentation skills to others. (He is also a master of direct marketing, through which he sells his books, audiotapes, and public workshops.)


At the beginning of a recent Gilbert workshop I attended on "How to Give a Speech," Dr. Gilbert told his audience: "If you get one good idea from this session, it will have been worth the price." In fact, I got at least 42 good ideas on improving presentation skills, and Dr. Gilbert has generously given permission for me to share them with you.


How To Give A Speech


1. Write your own introduction and mail it to the sponsoring organization in advance of your appearance.


2. Establish rapport with the audience early.


3. What you say is not as important as how you say it.


4. Self-effacing humor works best.


5. Ask the audience questions.


6. Don't give a talk--have a conversation.


7. Thirty percent of the people in the audience will never ask the speaker a question.


8. A little bit of nervous tension is probably good for you.


9. Extremely nervous? Use rapport building, not stress reduction, techniques.


10. The presentation does not have to be great. Tell your audience that if they get one good idea out of your talk, it will have been worthwhile for them.


11. People want stories, not information.


12. Get the audience involved.


13. People pay more for entertainment than education. (Proof: The average college professor would have to work 10 centuries to earn what Oprah Winfrey makes in a year.)


14. You have to love what you are doing. (Dr. Gilbert has 8,000 cassette tapes of speeches and listens to these tapes three to four hours a day.)


15. The first time you give a particular talk it will not be great.


16. The three hardest audiences to address: engineers, accountants, and high school students.


17. If heckled, you can turn any situation around ("verbal aikido").


18. Communicate from the Heart + Have an Important Message = Speaking Success.


19. You can't please everybody, so don't even try. Some will like you and your presentation and some won't.


20. Ask your audience how you are doing and what they need to hear from you to rate you higher.


21. Be flexible. Play off your audience.


22. Be totally authentic.


23. To announce a break say: "We'll take a five minute break now, so I'll expect you back here in 10 minutes." It always gets a laugh.


24. To get them back in the room (if you are the speaker), go out into the hall and shout, "He's starting; he's starting!"


25. Courage is to feel the fear and do it anyway. The only way to overcome what you fear is to do it.


26. If panic strikes: Just give the talk and keep your mouth moving. The fear will subside in a minute or two.


27. In speaking, writing, teaching and marketing, everything you see, read, hear, do or experience is grist for the mill.


28. Tell touching stories.


29. If the stories are about you, be the goat, not the hero. People like speakers who are humble; audiences hate bragging and braggarts.


30. Join Toastmasters. Take a Dale Carnegie course in public speaking. Join the National Speakers Association.


31. Go hear the great speakers and learn from them.


32. If you borrow stories or techniques from other speakers, adapt this material and use it in your own unique way.


33. Use audiovisual aids if you wish, but not as a crutch.


34. When presenting a daylong workshop, make the afternoon shorter than the morning.


35. Asking people to perform a simple physical exercise (stretching, Simon Says, etc.) as an activity during a break can increase their energy level and overcome lethargy.


36. People love storytellers.


37. Today's most popular speaking topic: Change (in business, society, lifestyles, etc.) and how to cope with it.


38. There is no failure --just feedback.


39. At the conclusion of your talk, tell your audience that they were a great audience even if they were not.


40. Ask for applause using this closing: "You've been a wonderful audience. [pause]. Thank you very much."


41. If you want to become a good speaker give as many talks as you can to as many groups as you can, even if you don't get paid at first. You will improve as you gain experience. (Dr. Gilbert has some speeches he has given more than 1,000 times.)


42. Cruise lines frequently offer speakers free trips in exchange for a brief lecture during the cruise. And they do not demand top, experienced speakers.


For a FREE copy of Dr. Rob Gilbert's special report, "How to Motivate Yourself and Others, " write to: The Center for Sports Success, 91 Belleville Ave., Ste. 7, Bloomfield, NJ  07003.  Or call (201) 743-4428. Dr. Gilbert is a professor at Montclair State College, director of The Center for Sports Success and the author of the just-published book, Gilbert On Greatness: How Sport Psychology Can Make You A Champion.


Robert Bly is a freelance copywriter specializing in business-to-business and direct response advertising. He writes ads, brochures, direct mail packages, and sales letters for more than 75 clients nationwide including Prentice-Hall, Grumman Corporation, Sony, OnLine Software, Digital Linguistix, and Philadelphia National Bank. He is also the author of 17 books including The Copywriter's Handbook (Dodd, Mead). Bly can be reached at 174 Holland Ave., New Milford, NJ  07646  (201) 599-2277.


"People pay more for entertainment than education. (Proof: The average college professor would have to work 10 centuries to earn what Oprah Winfrey makes in a year.)"