The secrets behind public speaking

The secrets behind public speaking

If you’re a public speaker, you’re a storyteller (or you should be), says John Hayes

Early in my career a mentor advised me how to speak about a chair. There’s not much to say about most chairs, is there? A chair can be comfortable, pretty, too big or too small, but where do you go from there?

My mentor said, “Talk about who made the chair. Or who designed the chair. Or people who sat in the chair.” In other words, tell a story about the people associated with the chair. That’s what interests people. Since people are mostly interested in other people, it’s always important to use people in your speeches.

Zig Ziglar was one of America’s greatest motivational speakers and very popular at franchise meetings and conventions. If you ever heard speak, or you’ve listened to one of his recordings, you may remember that no matter what he spoke about he always included people.

He was especially good at telling stories about people. Sometimes Zig spoke about himself, especially if he wanted to make fun of someone, but his presentations were always filled with people.

For a great example of how to incorporate people to make simple, but key points—the types of lessons that franchisors and franchisees need to hear when you speak—search on “Zig Ziglar I really hate my job”. Ziglar’s example can easily be adopted by anyone who needs to deliver a speech.

Many of you who are reading this article will be asked to speak to franchise organizations. When you do, remember these points: 85% of what we retain comes through our eyes. So make your content visual. That’s why storytelling is so helpful.

Use stories to turn your points or ideas into pictures using charts, graphs, memories, etc.

Your body is a visual aid, so use it. Watch yourself in a mirror, or record your presentation, to see how you can better use your face, fingers, etc.
Make sure your stories relate to your audience.

Use action verbs and not so many adjectives. Verbs that depict taste, sound, touch and feelings will be most appreciated. You can excel at public speaking especially when you rely on stories about people.


Dr. John P. Hayes, Titus Chair for Franchise Leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, speaks at franchise expos internationally and at many franchise conventions each year. Contact him at Titus Center.

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