My Top Ten Speaking Tips

My public speaking tips were developed by doing, watching and teaching.

Public Speaking Training

I love public speaking. I began doing it during my 20 years as an executive in Japan. Early on, I took advantage of participating in Toast Masters at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ). That was for public speaking in English. I threw myself into an intensive series called Hanishikata Kyoshitsu (Way of Speaking Classroom) where 500 Japanese and one blond woman practiced making speeches in front of each other in Japanese. The leader did a great job of pounding into us to be specific rather than the using the vague references that come so naturally with the deferential Japanese language. I also want to acknowledge an amazing course with Werner Erhard that I took in the late 80’s called Presentations, Negotiation and Enrollment. My key take-away from Werner was to “be with the people.”

My Courage Group partner Ray Gordon was a presentation skills trainer for the American Management Association and received certification to train GE personnel, so I was able to learn a lot from him as well.

I enjoy attending conferences and absorbing knowledge from experts in their fields. I also learned about how to moderate and present by watching what makes other presentations effective. Through my company, The Courage Group, I teach a course on presentation skills that utilizes video feedback in both English and Japanese.

Top Ten Public Speaking Tips

1. Never moderate a panel or speak in public without preparing
2. Create a map of important points you want to cover
3. Never read a speech nor an introduction
4. Use a computer screen to glance at your slides so that you are looking towards your audience
5. Tell stories that allow the audience to visualize what you are talking about
6. Use slides that appeal to the “right brain” of your audience
7. Be with your audience, check their faces – are they getting it?
8. Breathe
9.Time your presentation. Allow no less than 15 minutes for questions
10.Take advantage of attending the conference you are speaking at

How to Moderate a Dynamic Panel

1. To gauge who is in the audience, allow the panel to participate in deciding what questions to ask
2. Interview each panelist separately, to understand their strengths so that you can make each shine
3. During interviews, create maps of important points and questions to cover and share with the panel
4. Make sure each panelist commits to meeting as a group before the panel, preferably in person
5. Listen. Be ready to lead where the discussion is going
6. Ensure that the panel is delivering concrete, actionable information

Linda Sherman Speaking Engagements

This has been an enjoyable month for being on stage. I started off May 5th moderating a panel called the Facebook Factor for Digital Hollywood at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Los Angeles.

May 21st I spoke twice at SheCon, a new conference hosted by Julie Wohlberg in Miami. I spoke by myself for a session called Interactive Social Media Audit, and I participated in a panel on PR.

Linda Sherman Speaking at BlogWorld NYC May 24 2011

May 24th I spoke at BlogWorld Expo in New York City on How to Write for and Engage the 50+ Online Marketplace.

Women In Business Radio Interview with Michele Price
I appeared on Michele Price’s radio show Women In Business Radio on June 6th. Here is the archive. I am the “featured speaker” but my appearance begins 24 minutes into the hour.

Do you have any additional speaking tips to share?

About Linda Sherman

International, multicultural marketing pro, Linda brings a distinguished background of international subsidiary CEO/CMO to her Social Marketing expertise. These include CEO Club Med Japan, Barilla Japan and CMO Wal-Mart Japan. Managing Editor, Boomer Tech Talk, she is passionate about senior services including senior health care and housing. Linda Sherman has been featured and quoted in Forbes, The New York Times, Christian Monitor and other leading publications. She devised and implemented an innovative guerrilla-marketing plan for ZIMA in Japan that produced a lasting, profitable success.

Connect with Linda Sherman on Instagram, Threads and X @LindaSherman.


  1. Good list Linda — couldn’t agree more on the panel moderation issue. Also, favorite facilitation approach as moderator is to establish a lead-respondent for each question, designating a few supportive respondents as time allows or as conversation unfolds. This helps set the tone for directed conversation vs a free-for-all blabber.

  2. LindaSherman says

    Great panel moderation tip Jill. I alluded to something like that in my #2 “Interview each panelist separately, to understand their strengths so that you can make each shine”. The panel moderator should understand who would be the best to lead on each question both prepared and as the conversation unfolds.

    Jill – I was so pleased to have CommentLuv on this blog when it featured your Blue Key campaign post from your Live Your Talk blog. It was delightful meeting you at BlogWorldExpo New York. I look forward to interacting with you more!

  3. In the preparation part-know what kind of audience you are speaking to. Females, males, mixed.. what industry…

    Mostly though it is about being comfortable with the material you are presenting.

  4. Thank you Susie. It is indeed a very important point to direct a presentation towards who is in the audience. To the extent possible we try to guess who that will be. But it is also good to ask some questions at the beginning of the presentation to know more about them. I found panelists really enjoy contributing beforehand by telling me what they want to know about the audience in my point one in my panel moderation section: “To gauge who is in the audience, allow the panel to participate in deciding what questions to ask”

  5. I knew we must have met for a reason. Will be studying this post more this weekend! 😉

  6. Thanks a lot for the excellent tips. I will enjoy reading more on this issue down the road. I believe that it is indeed a very important point to direct a presentation towards who is in the audience. Keep up the nice posts. This website is a wonderful reference and I enjoy studying it.

  7. Thanks for sharing these tips. By chance, do you have tips too for beginners? As you can see, I’m a bit of a coward when going on stage with a large crowd. Can you give me advice on how to overcome this fear of mine?

  8. Nice article, thanks for the information.
    Anna @

  9. JustLindaSTL says

    I love public speaking too.  Love it.  Next week I’m in NY and I’m part of a PechaKucha presentation blitz at a conference.  Have you done one of those?  I hear it’s taking the world by storm.  6 minutes, 40 seconds – 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide.  The advancing of the slides is automatic.  I just did my first dry-run yesterday.  I have a tendency to ramble so this will keep me very tight.  I was nervous about that at first, but have so far found it to be a very freeing process.You can’t put words – or not many – on a slide when it’s up for 20 seconds, so the slides are almost all images.  It was fun finding an emotive image – something that connects to the words I will speak during that particular 20 seconds. I’ll let you know how it goes.  Maybe these PechaKucha clubs are the new ToastMasters (which I have done in my past too!)

    •  @JustLindaSTL Fascinating! I remember when Mark Dytham first spoke Pecha Kucha in Tokyo in 2003. How nice that it has become such a success! I just added their Twitter to my Asia Pacific Twitter list and liked their Facebook Page. I’ve attended an Ignite session. I haven’t attempted either yet myself but I agree with you is good training. Ignite doesn’t state when they got started which makes one think that probably Pecha Kucha was first. 

  10. Thank you for the very informative article on presenting, Linda. I present several times a month, and I love it. I’m usually very comfortable with presenting… as long as I am prepared. Once I am prepared, I can usually walk into just about any setting and give a great presentation that connects with my audiences. 

    That said. I realize I always have room for improvement. Your blog post “My Top Ten Speaking Tips” really gave me a new look on presenting and “what” I should be focusing on. In particular, tip number 7 is my favorite… it truly is all about our audience. 

    I so appreciate all your amazing advice here on!

  11. You are so right about being prepared terrysullivan. Preparing is what gives you the freedom to dance with your audience. I hope to have the opportunity to see you present in person one day.

  12. LindaSherman terrysullivan  Thank you for your advice and very kind words Linda. I sure hope we do meet live one day. And. I would love to see you present… 🙂

    ps. Thanks so much for the Klout advice… It worked perfectly!

  13. HazelOwens says

    These are some great tips!  It’s very impressive that you also worked on give speeches in Japanese; that takes a lot of effort.  I’m a bit surprised at your tip to “never read a speech or introduction.”  I’m terrified of public speaking, and I always worry that if I don’t have what I want to say completely written out, I’ll stumble and lose track of my point.  I suppose I should work more on making a map of points to cover, like you suggested, and confidence will follow.

  14. Love love love this guide! Public speaking is one of the most nerve-wracking tasks out there for some of us. It can absolutely terrifying, but having some simple tips to help lead you through the process can definitely reduce the pressure. This is a fantastic resource! Thanks so much for posting this!


  1. […] week’s guest is Linda Sherman, with 20 years c level experience in Japan she has transitioned that experience back to her own […]

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