Category Archives: #LeadershipMonday

Communication Leadership: Learning To Deliver On Public Speaking

Communication Leadership: Learning To Deliver On Public Speaking

Originally published with the Forbes Coaches Council at on September 8, 2017.

Authenticity and confidence: These are the key elements of a great speech delivery, but developing these elements can feel like bottling lightning. Sometimes we seem to think they are qualities you are either born with or not. People say, “I’m just not a good public speaker. My nerves get the best of me,” or,  “I can’t be myself when I’m speaking because I’ve been told that my natural demeanor is wrong.”

But like any skill, cultivating a great delivery is a matter of practice, preparation and persistence. The model my company has devised is constructed deliberately to boost both your confidence and delivery by following a simple path: being aware of the context in which you are speaking, assessing your goals and your audience, crafting a memorable message, and creating a simple and clear slide deck. With these tools, you can begin to stand in front of an audience with belief in both your material and yourself, confidently and authentically.

Of course, it’s never as easy as taking a set of skills and putting them all together. And remember, delivering a public speech isn’t just about telling people where they are — you are telling them where to go. To accomplish that goal, you need to make your audience believe in your message and to believe in you.

When you start to think about the actual delivery of your presentation, keep a few key strategies in mind:

Communicate with clarity. Make sure you know your message: your goal, key points and potential objections. Any hesitation or confusion will undermine your confidence. And don’t rely on your slide deck to be your script. The audience can read your slides for themselves. Your job is to tell them what the slide means.

Connect with your audience. First, listen to and understand your audience. Then craft a message that directly addresses their concerns. Without these underpinnings, no amount of stagecraft will convince your audience that you are speaking specifically to them. But the way you deliver that message should reinforce that foundation and build on it. Use strong, vivid language that is collaborative and inclusive. Take a confident stance that faces the audience directly and openly. Tailor the tone of your voice to your message. Choose anecdotes and examples that speak to your audience’s priorities and concerns.

Show your confidence. Even if you feel confident, you may still be stuck in habits that make you appear nervous or hesitant. Make sure that you make consistent eye contact with the entire room, square your shoulders to the room (don’t try to hide by standing sideways!), use a forceful and varied speech pattern that appropriately emphasizes your key points, and willingly engage with questions, even skeptical or critical ones, and engage in dialogue.

Of course, the small things count, too. Most of us fall back on verbal pauses in our speech, even when we aren’t particularly nervous. When I first started to speak in public I had tons of confidence, but I also used tons of “ums” and “ahs.” I had no idea how often I used these verbal pauses — I didn’t hear myself saying them. So I started recording myself. Reviewing my speech this way made me much more aware of these verbal tics, and I began to use them less and less. It’s not a quick process. It took me a year to eliminate this habit. But it’s well worth the effort, because all those “ums,” “ahs” and “you knows” are a big distraction and can make you sound less professional.

Another common habit: qualifying language. “This is a solution, kind of …” “Our solution, I think, is to …” Does this communicate confidence? Of course not. Many of us want to avoid sounding aggressive or prescriptive. But if you have the clarity of message and the business case to back up your recommendation, it’s not belligerent to say so.

Some communication experts have come out against certain habits: no walking around the stage, perhaps, or no hands in pockets. I disagree. If it is natural to you to walk from one side of the stage to the other, go for it — just make sure it doesn’t distract from the substance of what you are saying. If you feel comfortable with one hand in your pocket, go for it — just don’t jiggle your keys. Of course, you need to account for your audience. You may not want to keep a hand in your pocket for your most formal audience, or pace in front of your screen so that certain audience members can’t see your slides. But let yourself be you — authentic and confident.

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at

Communication Leadership: Learning to Document

Communication Leadership: Learning to Document

Originally published with the Forbes Coaches Council at on August 23, 2017. When I teach a seminar, I often ask about the attendees’ process of putting together a presentation. “How many here start their preparation by opening up a new PowerPoint, or pulling out an old slide deck and repurposing it, or taking a… Continue Reading

Communication Leadership: Make the Message

Communication Leadership: Make the Message

Originally published with the Forbes Coaches Council at August 8, 2017 What’s the first step in crafting a persuasive presentation? For many people, the agony of the blank page sends them straight to the slide deck. Maybe you have a template to work with, maybe you can pull up some visually interesting data, maybe you… Continue Reading

Leadership Tips: Practice What You Preach

Leadership Tips: Practice What You Preach

We get inquiries all the time from managers, directors and organizational leaders about a need for communication training for their teams. And in nearly every conversation, the leader is very clear about the needs and weaknesses of his or her team. Then, when we actually conduct the training, and once the participants get comfortable enough… Continue Reading

Communication Leadership: Learning To Assess

Originally published with the Forbes Coaches Council at July 25, 2017 For years, I’ve been intimately involved in the process of training Olympic-level athletes for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program, both as an athlete myself and eventually as Chairman and Team Leader for all of U.S. Olympic Sailing. At that level of competition, there… Continue Reading

Expand Your Leadership Vocabulary

While Dean enjoys a little vacation time with his family, we’ll revisit some of The Latimer Group’s most popular posts. This is a great one for #LeadershipMonday. Hope it’s a great week. ~The Latimer Group I came across something worth sharing with you, that I think will help you refine your leadership vocabulary. If you… Continue Reading

Communication Leadership: The Four Areas Of Awareness

Originally published with the Forbes Coaches Council at July 11, 2017 In goal-oriented communication, few things are more important than creating a sense of connection between yourself and the person you are speaking to. When you are in the audience, what type of speaker captures your attention more: the one who speaks to your concerns,… Continue Reading

Robin Williams, Depression and Friendship: Three Years Later

It has been three years since Robin Williams passed away, and we wrote this post right after he died. What we wrote then is just as true and valid today…  perhaps more so. Great communication in the workplace is about more than clarity, brevity, etc… things we write about all the time. Great communication in… Continue Reading

4 Communication Missteps Men Make in the Workplace

Earlier today, I had a LinkedIn conversation with a good friend named Bryan, who also happens to be a member of Latimer’s Board of Advisors. Bryan had read a recent blog post of ours about the language mistakes some women make in the workplace. And Bryan’s request and challenge to me was now to write… Continue Reading

Communication Leadership: Eliminating the Messenger Mindset

Originally published with the Forbes Coaches Council at June 29, 2017 So often in preparing to communicate, we make a fundamental mistake: we enter a messenger mindset. Rather than establishing a clear goal and aiming to persuade our audience, we set out to inform, to update, to share. On this path, we end our… Continue Reading

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