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Bringing Your “Be Game” as a Speaker




by Bob Goodyear

As speakers we often hear that we need to bring our “A Game” whenever we speak. This infers that we should always be the best whenever we speak. I want to suggest, however, that perhaps we should concern ourselves more with our “B game” instead, but not in the way you might think. Let’s change the B to “Be”. Let’s talk about some characteristics that we should be in order to be a more successful speaker.

Be Yourself

This is a well-worn cliché but it’s still applicable to us as speakers. I wrote about this in a previous blog entry here. I learned about this the hard way when I first started speaking. Instead of just speaking like myself, I turned into a person that I now call “SpeakerMan.” I ended up speaking like I thought I should rather than just being me.

How can you tell if you’re becoming “SpeakerMan”?

  1. If you find yourself using words and phrases you don’t use in normal conversation, you might be turning into “SpeakerMan.”
  2. If you constantly wondering if you look just right while you’re speaking, you might be turning into “SpeakerMan.”
  3. If you’re worried you’re sounding like a corporate talking head and not you, you probably ARE “SpeakerMan.”

Just be yourself and don’t try to adopt another personality when you speak.

Be Knowledgeable

On the surface, this seems pretty simple. You might think I’m talking about knowing your subject and being able to speak about it in depth. Many of my technical speaker friends certainly believe that. While that’s true, there are other areas you need to be knowledgeable about.

The biggest area where I see many speakers lacking knowledge is understanding who their audience is. In a previous article I covered 3 questions you should ask in order to get to know your audience before you ever show up to speak. Get answers to these 3 questions and you’ll be prepared to speak to your audience.

  1. How many people are expected to attend?
  2. What are the demographics of the group?
  3. Why does this audience care about my topic?

Getting answers to these questions and other follow-on questions will enable you to tailor your message to your audience.

Be Early

I received this advice years ago from a fellow speaker. Her advice was to ALWAYS be early for any presentation or speech I was going to make. The reason she made this comment to me was two-fold.

The first reason to show up early is to work out the logistics of the room where you will be speaking. Figure out how big the room is. Are the seats lined up in an optimal way for your presentation? If you need A/V equipment, is it set up and is it working? If you’re speaking at a conference, get to meet the A/V crew and become their friend. Find out from them the best configuration for the sound and visual components of your presentation. Remember, the A/V crew can make you sound and look great.

The second reason to show up early is so you can meet some of the people who come in early. By just talking with them, you can learn a couple of things. One, you will make some acquaintances that will allow you to feel like you’re speaking to people you know and not complete strangers. Two, you can find out what they are expecting to hear from you. You might find out that you were not planning on covering something that they were expecting to hear. This will allow you to make some quick adjustments before you start.

Bringing your “Be game” as a speaker can be VERY effective if you incorporate these 3 “Be’s”.

What other “Be’s” do you think are needed for a speaker to be outstanding? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


Bob Goodyear is a veteran speaker on technology who understands the communications challenges that technical professionals face. Find out how Bob can help your organization with its presentation. Reach Bob by email or by phone at 404.790.5855.