Tips on Being a Great Social Media Speaker – Or any Kind of Public Speaker

Tips on Being a Great Social Media Speaker – Or any Kind of Public Speaker

Being a social media public speaker is one of my dreams come true. I am lucky to be flown around to speak on all sorts of marketing and technology topics. Really. Each and every time I get asked to speak, I feel honored and excited. I want everyone that wants to be a social media speaker to feel these feelings and do the best they can when they speak.

I also love being considered a social media motivational speaker.

Social Media Motivational Speaker Leo Morejon

If you’ve heard me talk, you know I am so excited to be living in this day and age. It’s an age where, as people, we are connected more than ever before; an age where business people and marketers have unprecedented access, tools, and capabilities.

Two of my favorite things to ask marketers are:

  1. If you went back in time before the internet, and you asked any business person how they would feel if they could target exactly who they were trying to focus on?

    • This person wouldn’t believe you; it sounds too good to be true. But guess what? It’s true today.
  2. How do the metrics you get from Facebook, Google, and so on, compare to the metrics that marketers used to get from billboards, TV, magazines, etc. before the internet existed?

    • It’s an unfair comparison. Looking at Facebook Insights alone, one download will give you hundreds of metrics. While only some items may be important to you, and some people will complain about analysis paralysis (define), most marketers would rather have more metrics than fewer metrics. If too much data is your problem, it’s important that you have a good relationship with your data.

We live in amazing times, and we should be excited to be living today.

I’ve been able to support other social media speakers receive invitations to speak or assist them as they develop their talks. Teaching others to be social media speakers is an unexpected, pleasant surprise.

I’m going to provide my tips and tricks for being a great social media speaker or speaker of any kind. These are tips and tricks that I use and have learned by speaking at countless meetings, product demos, marketing conferences, universities, and advertising events. While there are other great articles about the importance of storytelling, practicing, etc., these are more practical tips for being a great speaker:

1) It’s ok to be nervous.

I’ve spoken countless times and I still get nervous before almost every single speech. Being nervous shows you care and you should learn to use this nervous energy to energize your talks. While some people turn to beta blockers to help with this, I’m not a fan, and I do the following to help get my energy ready to be on stage:

  • Seek out people. The worst thing you can do is go straight to the stage from your hotel or flight. I try to get with people before I speak to get into a rhythm. I especially try to be people at the conference. This helps to feel out who your audience is and also helps make your speech more memorable.
  • If I can’t get to a group of people, I call or video conference a close friend and I talk with them about anything. If you don’t have anyone you can call, call me: (732) 314-6152.
  • Listen to music. I put on my headphones and listen to a song that motivates me and gets me going.

2) Don’t worry about the number of slides.

I follow a version of the Lessig Method of presentation, coined after Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford University law professor, who recommends one-word slides or slides with just one image so the viewer’s focus is on the speaker, energy stays high, and points are easily made. Lawrence Lessig’s TED talk “Laws that Choke Creativity” beautifully shows off this style.

I have presentations that are only fifty slides, and I have presentations that have hundreds of slides—all have very few words on them. I do this for many reasons. See an example of my influencer marketing speech for social media week below.

  • Timing: At my keynote social media speech at the Real Time Summit, I initially had one-and-a-half hours to talk, but due to unexpected events, my talk got cut down to forty-five minutes. Because most of my slides had very few words on them, I could easily speed up my talk (or slow it down if necessary) without the audience thinking they were missing something.
  • Memorization: Sometimes I don’t have the time to remember a full presentation, especially when I’m filling in for another speaker last minute. Being familiar with the subject, only having a few word prompts or a general outline,allows the slides to become reminders of points I want to make and identifiers of the next point to discuss.

3) Don’t rely on slides.

When a speaker has too much information on his/her slides, it’s hard to understand and the listeners tend to start reading what’s on the slide. If they’re reading, they’re not paying as much attention. Generally, my busiest slide looks like the one below. Keep in mind that people are there to see and hear you speak, not read slides.

4) Throw away notecards.

If you don’t know your topic thoroughly, why are you giving a speech? Looking at notes takes your attention away from the audience and makes you appear unprepared. You want to make eye contact with your audience. If you’re distracted by looking at your cards, your talk will suffer and people will pay less attention.

5) Expect technical issues and don’t fumble.

Don’t be the person that falls apart or stays quiet when a projector, video, microphone, or any other piece of equipment doesn’t work. This is not only embarrassing for you but cringe-worthy for the audience. I’ve seen this happen too many times with hundreds or just five people in attendance.

  • Knowing your stuff really well is key here. As pointed out on point number four, you need to know your stuff without relying on your slides so you can keep talking through any technical difficulty.
  • Try not to use many videos. Even if you prepare ahead with the event host and test the system beforehand (which you should always do), you never really know what’s going to happen onstage.

6) Be memorable:

Needless to say, I love learning more about marketing, yet I’ve still been put to sleep by even the most interesting topic. Storytelling is a key pillar here and the following tips are more related to my personal style than anything thing else. I still share them in hopes of inspiring and supporting any readers.

  • Include funny topics. At my speech on voice marketing at the AAF-Louisville and AAF District 5 National Speaker Series Luncheon, I used Squatty Potty to illustrate how any brand can use voice marketing by using them in different examples. I did this while people were eating lunch. While my timing was a mistake, my goal to be memorable, regardless of the situation, wasn’t.
  • Use GIFs. Who doesn’t like GIFs? They’re short, funny and make a point. Here’s one GIF I should during the luncheon
  • Tell jokes. I’m a fan of comedy so I actually think of my talks as though I’m doing stand-up comedy. I practice joke timing, joke setups, and other things comedians focus on while onstage. This isn’t easy. If a joke doesn’t fit, and you still have fifty minutes to talk, that’s hard, but keep going. Comedians practice their jokes over and over. Do the same to see what works for you.

7) Be interactive.

This goes along with staying memorable. I walk into the crowd and use the laser on my clicker to engage with audience members. Here’s me pointing at the amazing Josh Decker (CEO of Tagboard) during the Real Time Summit in Tennessee.

Leo Morejon Speaking at The Real Time Summit

8) Bring your own equipment.

I use the Logitech® Professional Presenter R800 and always try to use my own computer. This helps to ensure that the presentation is being presented how I want it. If you share a presentation with someone, you might deal with font issues or other compatibility issues.

Logitech® Professional Presenter R800

9) Don’t be pretentious.

This is the most important thing to remember. I shouldn’t have to say this but it does happen that speakers get overinflated about their self-worth. You get invited to speak—how lucky are you? You might even be getting paid to speak—how even more lucky are you?! Remember to be magnanimous and thoughtful to those around you. Besides the fact that being nice makes you a great human, it also might get you invited back to speak again. I’m always there early to set up chairs, support other speakers, and provide any help I can because setting up an event is ridiculously difficult, so add additional value by helping out.

10) Be yourself.

Be inspired by other social media speakers, but don’t try to be them. This playacting will come through during your speech. Being yourself is the easiest thing because no one knows you better than yourself. To be a great speaker you must be genuine and authentic.

I hope this helps you become a better public speaker. I’m certainly not the end all be all, and I certainly have a lot to learn and a lot of practicing to do, so if you have any recommendations, please share them in the comments.

Go get em!

Also published on Medium.