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10 Killer Presentation Tips From Highly Influential Speakers

by Adam Noar

Public Speaking Tips From Highly Influential People (Nancy Duarte, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Amy Cuddy

What do Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, Steve Jobs, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and other influential speakers have in common?

They all understand the keys to a good presentation!

The best presenters in the world are memorable, instructive and referenced for many years.

They inspire people to change their lives, encourage and educate their audiences to think differently about the world – whether it’s about . Most successful public speakers have refined their skills to deliver memorable presentations in front of a live audience.

So, why not take some presentation secrets straight out of the pros’ playbook?

Today we are going to be sharing 10 awesome presentation tips from some of the best presenters in the world. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these suggestions for better public speaking.

10 Killer PresentationTips From Highly Influential People (Nancy Duarte, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Amy Cuddy, Lewis Howes, Seth Godin, Steve Jobs, Brian Tracy, Scott Harrison)

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Tim Ferriss – Be 100% Authentic

Chances are, if you haven’t read The 4 Hour Work Week, you’ve definitely heard of it:

It’s practically the Bible for startup junkies and passive income warriors all over the world.

Tim Ferriss wrote this iconic book about living the life everyone else has been afraid to live, and ever since then he’s been a regular on the motivational speaker circuit.

His suggestions for better public speaking are pretty simple:

 Just be yourself.

“Don’t ape someone else’s style. Don’t try to be Barack Obama or Tom Peters or Margaret Thatcher. It’ll only underscore how far you are from being one of these outstanding speechifiers.” (his words, not ours)

“As trite as it may sound, just try to be you. If ‘you’ is someone who’s slightly uneasy, who says “uh” a few times on stage, no problem. As long as you’re authentic — and as long as you have something interesting and relevant to say –- you’ll be fine.”

Tim Ferriss - presentation tips - quote - public speaking tips

And he’s right:

Try to get in the mindset that you’re going to be talking to your mom or best friend – someone who you would be comfortable telling even your darkest secrets to.

Otherwise, as Ferriss says, “[people’s] BS detectors go off big time when they see a super-polished presenter spewing vaporous nothings.”

But here’s the kicker …

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be polished and authoritative, but it does mean you should sound like yourself.

If five syllable words are not a normal part of your vocabulary, don’t use them!

Amy Cuddy – Boost Your Confidence Right Before Presenting with “Power Poses”

Who is Amy Cuddy?

First of all, she’s a Social Psychologist at Harvard.

Second of all, she knows the secret to successful public speaking, and it has nothing to do with opening your mouth.

There is a simple strategy that you can use to reduce anxiety, improve your ability to deal with stress, and boost your confidence right before you get up on stage to present.

The best part? …

It works immediately and only takes two minutes to do. Studies conducted by Dr. Cuddy have shown that testosterone and cortisol (a stress hormone triggered by low-power poses such as slouching and looking at the ground) are inversely triggered depending on your body pose.

Amy Cuddy - power poses - best public speaking tips - presentation secrets

Closing your eyes, breathing deeply, and holding a power pose (e.g. such as standing with your chest stuck out and your hands on your hips) for just two minutes will give you an instant boost of testosterone right before you step up to the podium.

Learn more about how it all works (and see Dr. Cuddy’s Ted Talk) by clicking here.

Gary Vaynerchuk – Be Real and Don’t Worry About Dropping an F-Bomb Here or There

You’ve probably read before about public speaking tips that encourage you to look as sharp as possible for your big presentation. Many presenters, for example, feel compelled to wear a suit for a major keynote.

Gary Vaynerchuk breaks the mold.

He’s a successful entrepreneur best known for his role as a social media guru with clients such as Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch. He’s also got his start by growing his family’ liquor store business into a multi-million dollar a year venture.

So when he talks, people listen.

Funny enough, his standard attire for one of his five-figure talks is usually a pair of jeans and either a T-shirt, hoodie or collared shirt (untucked and with the sleeves unbuttoned).

“For 90% of the talks I do, I fly in the day of and fly out the same day, so it’s kind of a necessity,” Vaynerchuk says. “It’s the outfit of the sport I’m playing, which is extreme traveling and speaking.” (man, that’s a sport we wish we played).

“I understand and respect why someone would say [other] things are really important. But for me, I like to let my words and my energy on the stage do the talking.” What Vaynerchuk does use, however, are four-letter words. And he uses them with the zeal and gusto of a sailor on leave.

Whether he’s speaking to a tech crowd, a real estate crowd or pretty much any other conference that’s clamoring to add his star power to their agenda, audience members usually hear at least a few dozen colorful word choices (e.g. shit, dickhead, rat’s ass, douchebag and, of course, many creative variations of the f-bomb) that would get most other presenters reprimanded by their bosses or severely scolded by conference organizers.

Not only is he able to pull it off, his presentations typically end with a standing ovation.  Now I understand that many people do get turned off by unnecessary use of profanity, but the way Gary uses it to make a point SIMPLY WORKS:

His expletives are well-placed to emphasize his most important and audacious points. And they often make the audience laugh and feel more at ease.

Gary Vaynerchuk - public speaking presentation tips - quote - swearing

So where does the penchant for colorful language in his talks come from? “I was very affected by Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor,” Vaynerchuk says. “…they have some pretty good mouths on them and I think that affected me.”

Does that mean you should start swearing like he does during his presentations?

Not necessarily. But as Mark Manson, another leading lifestyle personality, has said, profanity “shocks you into a new mentality and challenges you.”

We think Gary – and other top public speakers – would agree.

Seth Godin – Ditch the Bullet Points With Your PowerPoint Slides

Hard to believe, but Steve Jobs never used a single bullet point.

Not once.

His presentations were always remarkable spare, relying on a few powerful images and carefully selected words or phrases.

Even during product demos where Jobs explains or demonstrates key benefits of a new product, his slides are refreshingly devoid of bullet points.

As Seth Godin explains in a 2007 eBook called Really Bad PowerPoint, “The minute you put bullet points on the screen, you are announcing ‘write this down, but don’t really pay attention to it now.’ People don’t take notes at the opera.”

He’s right:

While his gloriously bald head gets your attention at first, it’s Seth’s wisdom and long-run sensibility that have made him one of the most respected voices in marketing.

Anyways, back to the bullet points: Researchers have demonstrated time and time again that text and bullet points are the least effective way to deliver important information. Yet despite the evidence, the average PowerPoint slide has an extremely dense 40 words.

On average, our short-term memory can hold onto fewer than 7 items for no longer than 10-15 seconds.

So, imagine you’re introducing the world’s thinnest notebook. Replace the bulleted list of techie product features with a photograph of a large, manila office envelope.

Seth Godin - presentation design tips - best presenters

Or perhaps you’re trying to inspire an audience to help your nonprofit end the water crisis? Skip the bulleted list of statistics in favor of a short, powerful video that shows rather than tells why everyone in the room should care.

Lewis Howes – Keep Your Cool When Criticized

Lewis Howes is a New York Times Bestselling author of the hit book, The School of Greatness. He is also a lifestyle entrepreneur, high performance business coach, and keynote speaker.

I remember watching a Creative Live presentation featuring Lewis a few years back and was really drawn to how cool calm and collected he appears on stage.

One recommendation that he gives for better public speaking is to keep your cool if you happen to get hit with criticism during your talk.

Nobody wants to be heckled during a presentation but its bound to happen if you present frequently.

As you prepare your speech, it can be easy to imagine someone interrupting you, shouting out what your mind is already telling itself: He lacks experience. He didn’t prepare enough. How did he get this job?

Lewis points out that it’s important not to disqualify the statement or get defensive. Instead, listen, reflect, and evaluate the comment, then try to move the conversation in the right direction.”

Lewis Howes - suggestions for public speaking - handling criticism during presentations

So what do you do when you get hit with some tough questions?

Step 1: Ask some clarifying questions.

Step 2: Listen to the answers.

From here the conversation should get specific enough to address the questions or criticism. If so, answer, and then move your speech back on track.

If not, remember that you can’t please everybody, the moment you focus on that, you’ll no longer have a business that stands out.

Nancy Duarte – Make Your Slides Look Like Billboards

It pains us to say it, but we are mere mortals compared to Nancy Duarte when it comes to mastering the art of presentations.

She’s the CEO of one of the most highly-respected presentation design companies in the USA, and one of her biggest presentation tips is that you have to minimize words and focus on images if you want to make an impact on your audience.

“An audience can’t listen to your presentation and read detailed, text-heavy slides at the same time (not without missing key parts of your message, anyway). So make sure your slides pass what I call the glance test:

People should be able to understand each of your slides in about three seconds or less.

Nancy Duarte presentation tips - characteristics of a good presentation - glance test

Think of your slides as billboards:

When people drive, they only briefly take their eyes off their main focus — the road — to process billboard information. Similarly, your audience should focus intently on what you’re saying, looking only briefly at your slides when you display them.

The less extraneous material – such as words, graphics, animation, and sounds – the better people can concentrate.

Lots of extras actually take away meaning because they become a distraction. It’s not that your audience is a bunch of preschoolers – it’s just that even a group of adults can only take so much sensory bombardment before losing attention.

Use that knowledge to strip down your slides to the essentials. Does your logo really need to be on every slide? Does that blue swoosh add meaning? If not, leave it off.

The same goes for text:

Keep it short and easy to skim, and scale the type as large as possible so the people in the back of the room can see it.

Brian Tracy – Start Your Presentation With Your Audience

Brian Tracy has got a fire burning when it comes to delivering awesome presentations and he wants to share his tips with you.

Interestingly, what motivates him, as a self-development guru, to keep on plugging away isn’t him – it’s the people in his audience, the ones who come to him seeking self-improvement.

No wonder then that the audience is at the core of his philosophy when it comes to getting better at public speaking:

Who are the people that you are going to be presenting to? What is their age, who are they, what is their income and occupation? These things will help you to craft a successful PowerPoint presentation.

Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it ‘to whom it may concern.

Brian Tracy - keys to a good presentation - start with your audience

If you’re intimidated or nervous about facing your audience imagine them as a line of individuals waiting to have face-to-face conversations with you.

You want to make each person feel like you’re having a personal exchange with him or her; it will help you speak in a conversational tone, which will keep them interested. And if they’re still not interested, either you have a hopelessly boring personality or your presentation isn’t worth paying attention to (thankfully, you can change both of those things, but it might take some work).

Tony Robbins – Tap Into Your Audience’s Emotions

Like Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins is one of the people on this list who you probably don’t need an introduction to.

Pretty much everyone has seen one of his infomercials about living a better life or becoming a better you.

He’s done a pretty darn good job of motivating people, and it probably has a lot do with tapping into his audience’s emotions:

“We’ve all been put to sleep by somebody who’s told us all these wonderful facts that didn’t matter because information without emotion is not retained,” Robbins says. Without the power of emotion – be it body language, or the way you enunciate certain words, or look directly into the eyes of one of your audience members – even the best presentations will lack that je ne sais quoi that electrifies people.

If you are going to reach your audience, first you have to reach yourself.

In other words, get pumped about what it is you’re talking about!

“So if you’re just giving some frickin talk you’ve memorized over and over again, you’re going to have a flat affect,” Tony says. “If you’ve just got a bunch of visuals on the screen that are leading your talk, hang up your shoes and get the hell out of there.”

Tony Robbins - emotional presentation - presentation tips

A good way to insert emotion into your talk is to practice in front of a mirror. Don’t memorize entire sentences verbatim, so that way when you give the talk it sounds a bit more natural – not to mention, the more salient points of the talk will really jump out at you as you go through your paces during your presentation. And that will make a positive emotional impact on your viewers.

Scott Harrison – Tell Engaging Stories

Scott Harrison has led a pretty interesting life thus far:

After living a fast life of partying and drugs as a party promoter in New York City for major brands such as MTV, VH1, and Bacardi, he had an epiphany that he was living a shallow, meaningless life.

“I realized I was the most selfish, sycophantic, and miserable human being. I was the worst person I knew,” he recalls in a New York Times interview from 2009.

That realization changed him. He went from promoting clubs for a living to bringing clean water to millions of people across the world through the organization he founded, charity: water.

Nearly 20,000 projects and 24 countries later, his charity has brought clean, safe drinking water to poor developing communities around the world.

The secret to his success lies in the fact that he has combat the general apathy people have towards issues like this by telling a great and engaging story. It’s not so often you hear about someone who used to ply the streets of Manhattan at night in his BMW with a bunch of supermodels sitting in the back, then trading it all away to help people in impoverished nations such as Liberia have the chance to drink and wash using clean water.

The stories that Harrison tells allow him to connect with his audience on an emotional level.

Scott Harrison - keys to a good presentation - tell stories

Steve Jobs – Speak in the Familiar

A list kickass public speaking presentation tips would be incomplete without presentation tips from Steve Jobs.

The late computer whiz kid, wearer of stylish black turtlenecks, and face of Apple, Jobs is a prime candidate for presentation case studies because when on stage, he was articulate, nimble, and steadfast.

One of his most overlooked skills was making technical jargon sound simple, dare we even say fun? That’s quite an accomplishment when you consider how boring (yet also confusing) computers can be for most people. When the iPod was launched in 2001, Jobs was at his peak performance. A brilliant example of his ability to speak in layman’s terms came when he presented the iPod as “1000 songs in your pocket.”

Whoa! Maybe an egghead like Bill Gates would’ve been a bit more technical (or maybe just less exciting – remember the Zune?) But Steve Jobs knew that is was important to make his devices not only function as simply as possible – anyone who has seen a toddler pick up an iPad and start playing with it recognizes the intuitive design central to the Apple brand – but to also describe them as simply as possible.

His brilliance as a speaker who knew how to tell the facts without confusing people is what set him apart, and it’s something that you should keep in mind when it’s your turn to speak.

Steve Jobs - presentation secrets, tips for better public speaking


How about you? What are your best presentation tips for public speaking? Are there other awesome public speakers we didn’t talk about here that you think we should know about? Sound off in the comments below!

Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these public speaking tips? If so, email them the link to this post.

Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter of Facebook as well (by using the sharing buttons to the left).

Hungry for more presentation tips from influential speakers? Want to know more about how to deliver a kickass presentation? Check out some of these posts:

How Tim Ferriss Structures His PowerPoint Presentations (And Five Other Useful Public Speaking Tips)

Is It OK To Swear During Your Presentation?

20 Killer Presentation Accessories For Public Speaking

Image Credits

Benjy Feen – Tim Ferriss  , Pop Tech – Amy Cuddy , Silicon Prairie News – Gary Vaynerchuk , Joi Ito – Seth Godin , ShashiBellamkonda – Lewis Howes , Front – Nancy Duarte , Daniel Wickburg – Brian Tracy , Randy Stewart – Tony Robbins , Official Leweb Photos – Scott Harrison , The Taxhaven – Steve Jobs

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