Joe, a dark haired college student, came up to me and asked, “What is one of the best best public speaking tips you can give me?”

I thought for a moment and gave him a powerful speaking tip that has been very helpful to me.
Speaking Tip: Speak to one person only.
Whether you are speaking to five people or 993 people you want to speak to one person at a time. This will affect how you and I prepare our talks and how we deliver them.
Preparing to Speak to One Person
Before you start putting your speech together, pick out an ideal audience member. Someone who represents most of the people in the room.
Three weeks ago I spoke to about 50 energetic jr. highers. As I was preparing, I selected another jr higher in the area whom I’ll call Chris. He was a good representative of the audience I was speaking to. I prepared speech as if I was giving it to Chris.
I asked myself several questions.
  • What problems does Chris have?
  • What would keep Chris’s attention?
  • What info will help Chris?
I kept asking these questions and prepared a customized keynote for Chris. Yes, audiences are diverse and I did seek to add material to target the whole room because of the various backgrounds of the audience.
However, by focusing on one person it allowed me give a specific speech tailored for that audience. The result? Great interaction and a keynote that hit home.
Currently I am preparing a business presentation. In my mind I am delivering it to a professional named Jerry. This helps me focus my presentation.
Simple principle but very powerful.
Here are a few public speaking tips on preparing to speak to one person:
  • Select someone you know who represents the audience.
  • Ask yourself, “What would I say if it was just this individual in the room?”
  • Tailor the speech so it appeals to and impacts the diversity of people in the room.
  • Prepare for one, but appeal to all
Why did I encourage Joe to prepare to deliver to one person? Because doing this will help a speaker give a focused speech that connects, impacts, and the audience enjoys.
Check out Part 2.
(C) Arlen Busenitz 2009.



Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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