This past weekend I spoke at the Southcoast Regional Leadership conference.  It was my first Young Life Leadership weekend in over a year.  We had 350 in the audience and it was a ball.

The people, the place, the topic – it was truly a weekend that was “set apart” in many ways.  As I was driving home I reflected on how much I love speaking.  There are so many aspects I love – the preparation, the “art” of it, the stage, the audience (larger the better!), and the unknowns that always come your way.

Today, though I am no expert, I am going to give 10 speaking tips – take ‘em or leave ‘em, but while it is fresh in my mind, I thought I would blog on these.

  • Prepare.  I know, this is somewhat obvious, but still it is crucial.  I am pretty confident that some of you can “wing it.”  Just think what would happen if you really took the time and prepared well.
  • Cohesive.  What this means is that your topic or title, is woven throughout your message.  This past weekend I had a message on “Called out of the Crowd.”  It was important to keep relating back to the title and topic.
  • Unanticipated Voice.  What this means is that if your talk is always at the same pace and volume, people can checkout.  What people need is an exciting speaker (like YOU) who is NOT MONOTONE.
  • Metaphors work!  This weekend I told a story on the “Yellow Tarp.”  The yellow tarp stands for how the world wants you to “cover up the brutal realities in your life.”  People now can use this to metaphorically “pull back the tarp” with each other in sharing.
  • Story, Story, Story.  In real estate its location, right?  In speaking it is story.  People will sit up when you start to tell a story.  Obviously, make your story good, and then use it masterfully in your message.
  • Get Feedback (at some point).  A good friend called me about this weekend and said, “3 goods and 1 hope.”  This is where he gave me feedback and it was great to hear.  He said, “your last message was not a homerun . . . triple, but needed to be a bit shorter and have its style like your first three.”  This is helpful!
  • Start already!  This is a piece of advice you may agree with, and maybe not.  I do not like long “warm ups.”  This is where the speaker is warming up, giving long introductions, and being funny, but going nowhere.  I like to START.  It can be a story, but usually, it’s the title and then GO! “Today the title is . . .”
  • Finish well.  Think about your ending.  It is so great to finish well.  For me, it will probably be a story (heart pullers are good) that will wrap it all up.  Finishing well is like a good cup of coffee at the end of a meal!
  • Time.  Speak in your allotted time.  This weekend I think I did well on 2 or 3 messages.  One of them for sure went too long, and in the end, that was all preparation.  It was the message that got the least prep-work.  Ask who is running your meeting – when do you want me done, and end on time.
  • Fun and humor!  Sometimes you can plan it, and sometimes you have to react to it.  People love to laugh, and it adds life into your talks. Laughing at yourself is also a winner here!

There you go!  Hope there is a nugget or two for you.
Happy Speaking!



  1. Great post and great job this weekend. I agree speaking is fun… And you are really, really good at it.

    Scott Rubin 760.845.9735

  2. Thanks Eric! Still remember you telling me as a teenager that I could learn how to be affective at speaking. Meant a lot to me. I would love for you to blog maybe once a month a great “story” that you use in talks.

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