30 (MORE) Public Speaking Tips from an Actor & Professional Speaker

Yesterday I posted 26 Public Speaking Tips. Here are another 30 from the notes taken by the same participant in the Think Big Speak Easy.

  1. Watch stand-up comedy. Watch the set-up, the delivery and pay-off, and how they own the stage. Stand up comedians can turn a water bottle into a tool for making moments.
  2. Be careful using idioms—make sure appropriate for culture of audience.
  3. Don’t make jokes about difficult topics unless they’re directed toward self. Suicide is not funny.
  4. If you tell them you care about something you also need to tell them why.
  5. Michael used drums to demonstrate how timing works. Boom, boom, BANG. Boom, boom, boom, BANG. Rules of three.
  6. Stage blocking. How to stay physically open so everyone in the room can see you (Theater term: cheat open.)
  7. Deliver big moments center stage (usually).

  8. When coming on stage, avoid making a beeline directly to center of stage and then starting your speech. It looks stiff, clunky.
  9. Lean how to rehearse. This is a key to performance. When rehearsing, if you have to stop, start back up at the exact same emotional, physical and energetic state. Otherwise, you’ll lose the emotional through-line and arch of the speech.
  10. When you land a joke bask in it.
  11. Voice and speech training is not something you master in an hour. Michael studied daily for three years in a M.F.A program at NYU.
  12. Don’t push. (Push is theater term for over acting) You can’t show emotion. When you push the work feels false and often self-observed.
  13. Major emotion for the speaker/performer doesn’t always translate to major emotion for the audience.
  14. Endings: get everything in before audiences clap. Then get off the stage. Don’t let them see you doing housekeeping. It breaks the theatrical experience.
  15. You can also stay on stage at the end if you invite them to join you there.
  16. Anyone can make a sexy sizzle reel. Meeting planners want to know you can “hold the stage” for an extended period of time. Make sure you can show them video of 5-15 minutes of a performance.
  17. Whatever kind of talk you’re giving, no matter how good, no matter how much they love you, end a few minutes early. They always appreciate the extra time.
  18. What you feel doesn’t matter. The job is to effect the audience.
  19. Content needs to be repeated. Details in stories don’t.
  20. Get right to it. Film term: burn the first real. Most speakers waste time on too much exposition and the audience starts thinking, “Let’s go already!”
  21. Stop using the “story teller voice.” It’s false. You tell a story to 10,000 the same way you tell the story to your best friend. You don’t use some dramatic made up voice.
  22. Often the your favorite parts of a speech don’t work and need to be cut. We get attached to bits that really don’t further the story or resonate with the audience.
  23. Michael’s secret to getting a standing ovation AND a perfect 10 on every evaluation form. Brilliant. (I can’t tell you that one! You’ll have to come to the Think Big Speak Easy to find out).
  24. Most speaking teachers tell you to slow down. Makes sense some of the time. However, focus should be placed on pausing rather than slowing down. Speakers that speak too slowly often bore audiences to tears. Michael speaks fast but pauses at the right places so there is vocal rhythm. Audiences can easily absorb/consume the important points. Not everything in a speech/performance is of equal importance. Much of what we say is simply in service of the big point. That’s what needs to land.
  25. Never turn your back to the audience unless it’s intentional to make a point or convey an emotion. When you need to move upstage (that’s toward the back of the stage, away from the audience) you do it backwards while speaking to the audience.
  26. The idea that you’re not supposed to move while you talk is ridiculous. But you don’t move on the big moments (remember Michael’s Stand and Land).
  27. Never yell to a group to come back after a partner activity. Makes you look weak. Use Michael’s hand up technique and do it silently. That’s powerful.
  28. If you think you’re going to rise to the moment, you’re wrong. Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.” If you think you’re going to come up with the right material during the speech without hours of preparation, think again.
  29. This is all fun if you do the work.
  30. It’s amazing to see these people are transforming—using their bodies and environment and props to tell the story rather than just their words.

There were a few notes a participant took at my Think Big Speak Easy.

Have an opinion on this topic or something else to add? Post a comment.

14 thoughts on “30 (MORE) Public Speaking Tips from an Actor & Professional Speaker

Mia Sherwood Landau

This is my favorite one today – “Content needs to be repeated. Details in stories don’t.” That’s just one way speaking is very different from writing and it’s a big one. Knowing how and when to use repetition as a coach, trainer or teacher is critical, very different than use as a comedian. I need help with this distinction.

Carol Greenaway

Michael,

Great to hear from you again so soon. Hmmm, a total of 56 tips in two days! Thank you.

One of my favourites (that hasn’t been mentioned) was how to drink water as a natural part of the presentation. Learning so many technical tips was incredibly helpful.

Today I’m working on a new workshop and my approach is much more audience focused. There is no way I would be doing that without having attended.

Denise

These are fabulous tips! Thank you for sharing. The tip about using a storyteller voice is intriguing. Not sure what that means, but good food for thought.

Michael Port

Thanks Denise. Sometimes, when “speaking” in front of an audience people drop into this, “I’m giving a speech” voice that sounds a bit phoney or contrived. Listen for it and you’ll hear what I mean.

Joshua Gold

Michael,
Thanks for sharing these points. They are invaluable. I will be sure to attend one of these workshops soon. There is just so much on can do at one time.
See you soon.

Joshua

Leader of the Free World

I LOVE YOUR STUFF!!
WHAT WE FEEL AS A SPEAKER IS NOT IMPORTANT. WHEN I HAVE MY EYES ON THE AUDIENCE, THERE TO SERVE THEM, GET MY EYES OFF MYSELF AND HOW I FEEL, I CAN TAKE RISK BE REAL AND DELIVER EXCELLENCE!!!

YOU ARE AWESOME!!
KEEP BEING YOUR FULLY EXPRESSED AWESOME SELF!
I WANT TO COME TO YOUR SHOW DO YOU HAVE A SET DATE YET!

LIVE AWESOME!!
MICHAEL 703-455-5244

Michael Port

Yes, Michael. March 23rd, NYC. I’ll be sharing details soon.

Andrejka

Outstanding list. These blow the first 26 out of the water for me. Thank you Michael Port!

Jen Roberson

You need to come to Louisville KY. Because of it’s geography and close proximity to interstates, it’s less than 1 days drive from 80% of the country.

Susanne Morrone

I remember watching your performance going to different parts of the stage, explaining the progression in your Book Yourself Solid program,i.e. setting up the red velvet rope. I was intrigued at how effective it was in making each concept more emphatic. At the time I didn’t know of your acting career; I just thought “what an amazingly gifted speaker!” Now, I see the paying your dues in hard work,and delivering relaxed, natural and fun. Thanks for all the golden nuggets.

Michael Port

Susanne, thank you for the lovely praise. I have much gratitude.

E P

#20 is such a good tip!! So important in all settings.

Jacklyn

Hi Va2h8n,I&#gu17;m late for the party here, behind in my blogs. But I love reading about your journey with Beta readers. I’ve been lucky as well. It’s so terrifying and rewarding to hand the paper baby over to someone you know is a careful reader. After this brutal round of revisions, I’m going to need another line of willing souls. Here’s to the Betas!

Jason Van Eman

Confidence is the First thing in an Actor and Professional Speaker.When an Actor And Professional Speaker walk on the stage and start conversation with the audience he tries to have an eye to eye contact with the audience. He gives a surprise, a shock…an interaction, something that makes connection.Keep your energy and speech moving forward. Never let the energy drop till the end.

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