How to Be a Great Guest Speaker, Part 3

Get the final 7 tips everyone should follow in order to be a great guest speaker.

Lisa B. Marshall
6-minute read
Episode #105

This week’s articles is the last in a three-part series on how to be a great guest speaker. a continuation from last week. As a recap, Barbara Nixon inspired me to write 17 tips to be a great guest speaker and the first two articles covered tips 1-10. Today’s article will discuss the remaining tips 10-17. If you haven’t already read or listened to part one and two, it might be a good idea to do that first. .

How to be a Great Guest Speaker

You may remember that I started this series off with the most important tip: Learn as much as you can about your audience. I’ve repeated that three times now, because it’s critical to your success as a guest speaker (and well, because I like to follow the rule of three.) In the second installment, the focus was on preparing for things that could go wrong. And, in fact, that’s where we pick up today with tip #11.

Guest Speaking Tip #11: Don’t Count On An Internet Connection

Don’t count on the Internet working 100% perfectly. If you plan to show a YouTube or TED video clip, download the video to your computer and show it from there. (Barbara uses YouTube Downloader, a free app.)

If you plan to demo a certain website, use Snag-It or Command/shift/4 on the Mac to take and save a few screen captures. You can show those in case you can’t access the website during the presentation. In fact, unless you absolutely need to use a live website, it’s better to use screen captures with key sections enlarged or highlighted. That way you are ensured nothing can go wrong with your demo. I know that, at times, it’s just more powerful to demo the live website. In that case, you’ll need to arrive extra early to run through the demo onsite to ensure that it will run smoothly. Oh and don’t forget a hard-wired connection is often faster than a wireless connection.

Guest Speaking Tip #12: Provide Key Information

Next, be sure to include key information (such as your contact information, the hashtag, or additional resources) at the beginning and the end (or perhaps on every slide) of your presentation. Barbara and I both like to have a detailed contact information slide as the last slide.

Though I sometimes leave that slide up during the Q&A session, I usually put it at the end of the Q&A as part of the available additional resources.

If you refer to websites or blogs in your presentation, create a set of social bookmarks for your audience so they can go to one place to find all the links instead of spending time during your presentation furiously scribbling down all the addresses.

Barbara uses Delicious for her social bookmarks and lets the audience know early in the presentation where they can find all the links. Another option is to tweet the links during the presentation and simply provide the hashtag. I also sometimes put all the links in a PDF document and make that available for download.

Guest Speaking Tip #13: Provide Your Slides Ahead Of Time

Upload your slides to SlideShare at least a day before your presentation if you want your audience (and others) to have access to them. You can choose to keep the slides private until just before or after the presentation, if you wish. Another alternative is to provide a protected PDF of the slides to your contact, and the PDF can be printed out ahead of time.

Guest Speaking Tip #14: Deliver Your Program No Matter What

Unless you absolutely need to use a live website during a presentation, it’s better to use screen captures with key sections enlarged or highlighted.

The show must go on; be prepared to speak even if you don’t look or feel quite perfect.

Barbara once got caught in a deluge just as she opened her car door when arriving at a speaking event. Even with an umbrella, she was drenched. Her shoes and blazer sleeves were literally dripping. What did she do? She dashed into the restroom, grabbed some paper towels, mopped up what she could, and put a smile on her face.

Recently when I was at the airport waiting for a flight to a speaking engagement, I received a phone call that someone very close to me had died. Somehow, even though I was at the gate, I managed to miss the announcement for the flight. I missed my flight.

Luckily I had followed my own advice. I had allowed for ample travel time and had made sure there was another flight after the one I missed. Even though I would have preferred to just go home and scrap the presentation, I waited six hours until the next flight, and ultimately delivered the presentation on time. The show must go on because your contact and the audience are counting on you.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.