3 Tips to Leverage Your Strengths as a Public Speaker

I’ve got public speaking on the brain.  I say this because today marks the deadline for securing a spot at our 5th Annual CSP Fall Seminar at the early-bird rates.  If you haven’t done so already, I’d encourage you to sign up now to ensure that you secure the most affordable rate for this great event.

With just 30 days sitting between me and a presentation to a room full of fitness professionals, I’ve found myself mentally revisiting some of the most impactful presentations I’ve come across during the past calendar year.  A couple of presenters distinctly stood out above the rest, and today I’d like to discuss the most important lesson I took away from each.

Here are three helpful lessons to apply from three fantastic public speakers the next time you find yourself preparing to deliver a presentation in front of an audience:

Lesson #1: A presentation is about more than information sharing; it’s a performance.

  • Presenter                   Mark Fisher
  • Presentation Title     Snatched Lessons – Creating a High Integrity Transformation Program
  • Event                          Motivate & Move LAB, Hosted by Mark Fisher Fitness – February 2016

GOOD MORNING,” Mark Fisher shouted at the audience.  “If it feels like I am yelling at you, it’s because I am, and will continue to do so for the remainder of this presentation.”

Mark proceeded to explain that, deep down inside, despite his well-documented successes as an established fitness business owner and fitness coach in general, he is a Broadway performer at heart. 

Throughout his extensive prior training in the performance arts, Mark was programmed to project his message loudly and boldly.

This experience came shining through during his 25-minute presentation discussing the creation and implementation of a high-integrity transformation program.  After roughly 30-seconds, my inner monologue stopped saying “why is he shouting at me,” and started saying “holy shit, this guy is entertaining.”

He shared wisdom, he told emotional stories, and he made the room laugh. Most importantly, however, he performed his presentation more than he delivered it.  There’s nothing wrong with taking a little pride in the theatrical component of addressing a room, even if it is “just talking fitness.”

Lesson #2: There’s no substitute for diligent preparation.

  • Presenter                   Tony Bonvechio
  • Presentation Title     Creating Context for More Efficient Coaching
  • Event                          The 4th Annual CSP Fall Seminar

There were more than 150 people in attendance on this day that “Tony-B” took his first stab at public speaking in the fitness industry.  Instead of being overwhelmed by the occasion, he took home the award for most positively reviewed presentation of the seven that were delivered that day.  He wasn’t up against a collection of amateurs, either; between Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilcore, there were well over 100-hours of public speaking experience on the presenter roster.

Roughly 50% of our seminar attendees chimed in with detailed presentation feedback in our post-event electronic survey, and Tony’s presentation approval rating of 96% left the rest of us a reasonable distance behind. 

As it turns out, he didn’t present any revolutionary or mind-blowing information.  In fact, the subject matter was fairly vanilla.  What set Tony’s presentation apart from the rest was the ease with which he moved through the material.  His transition from slide-to-slide, section-to-section, and lesson-to-lesson was effortless and clearly rehearsed. 

During our staff meeting the following week I asked Tony to discuss his preparation process so that we could all emulate his effort moving forward.  He explained: “I gave that presentation, in its entirety, no less than five times during the past week. I made my wife listen to it twice. I delivered the entire thing during my hour-long commute to and from work on more than one occasion. I even presented this material once to my dog Eddie.”

The takeaway is simple: you likely need to put in tedious hours of rehearsal if you want to shine above the rest.

Lesson #3: By staying in your lane, the message remains authentic and accessible.

  • Presenter                  Dean Somerset
  • Presentation Title    Can’t remember…(my apologies)
  • Event                         The Fitness Summit – Kansas City

If Mark Fisher’s animated and energetic delivery sits at one end of the presenter spectrum, I’d say that Dean Somerset’s low-key, yet authentic style is firmly planted on the other.  I’ve now seen Dean wow the audience on consecutive years at the Fitness Summit by taking complex concepts and translating them in to layman’s terms that even I can understand.

In a blog recapping the event, Dean wrote “I made a bit of an audacious goal known on the third slide of my seminar saying I wanted mine to the single best one of the entire weekend, and proceeded to crack jokes, talk about how neural aspects regulate mobility, had some live volunteers help me explain the stuff I was talking about, and generally hoped to smash brains left and right.”

When he presents, Dean’s command of the subject matter is obvious, allowing a blend of his dry sense of humor and intelligence to capture the attention of all in attendance, as illustrated in the quote above. Instead of tackling concepts that fall on the fringe of his comfort zone, Dean shares information that he knows inside and out, resulting in applicable and memorable points.

The takeaway: If you are anything but an expert in the content being covered, your audience will be allergic to your underlying lack of certainty and resoluteness.

Come watch me attempt to apply these lessons…

At the coming CSP Fall Seminar I’ll be covering a presentation titled Business Before Branding where my priority will be to incorporate some of the lessons driven by my esteemed colleagues above.  I welcome you to be the judge of the outcome!

And, hey, even if I miss the mark, you can be damn sure Tony-B will put on a memorable show.

Register here for our 5th Annual CSP Fall Seminar, scheduled for Sunday, September 25th.