Dave Lieber: My best advice to speakers in 2014

Q. Dave Lieber, I have to address a group in Pennsylvania, and I wanted to ask your advice. I used to address groups quite a lot, but I’m rusty and audience expectations change. Please tell me your best advice about giving a public speech these days.

A. Here's what seems to be working best these days for motivational speaking, business to business training, sales training and presentation skills 

First, make sure your introduction read by someone is not just about your jobs and accomplishments. Include some self-deprecating remarks that shows you don't take yourself seriously.

When you get up, in that first 30 seconds, when they are forming The Impression, make a strong declarative statement that makes them put their phones down. I sometimes use, "The world today is very complicated. And I'm here today for one reason only. I'm here to make it simple for you to understand."

Dave Lieber Dave Lieber, motivational speaker, business to business training, sales training, presentation skills











(Above, Dave Lieber, the author delivering a TED talk)

Then follow up with a story that shows them that you are not going to bullet point them to death. If you do these two things, you will have their attention.

Make sure you tell a few more stories during the talk. Make sure they are funny and self-deprecating whenever possible. Have them lead to bigger points that you can make after the audience loves your story and then cares about what your point is.

Smile when you can. Show your candor and your passion. Be real, or authentic, as they say.

Best to have one big idea and lead with it, and then hit it hard in the middle and conclude with it at the end. Don't try to do too much because then nothing will stick.

Meet as many people as you can beforehand, just by introducing yourself to them. Then when you get up there, they see you as a new friend and root for your success.

And also use humor! Can't emphasize the humor enough. Speakers pay for the sins of the previous speaker. If the previous speaker read bullet points off a power point, that speaker has done you no favors. You have to wake the audience up. Good luck.


Dave Lieber is the national-award winning Watchdog investigative columnist for The Dallas Morning News and a much sought after motivational speaker. Dave is one of America’s top storytelling experts. He uses comedy to show businesses and associations how to improve their storytelling marketing skills in sales training and presentation skills. The author of five books, Dave won the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award as the U.S. newspaper columnist whose works produced positive effects on the lives of others.
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  1. I agree one hundred percent, Dave. Great post. Explains why you are such a rock star speaker!

  2. This is a list with great value, Dave! As a health and wellness motivational speaker, I sometimes fear that I try to make too many points: food, fitness and fun, so your point is well taken :)

  3. I'm with Polly, Dave! GREAT list with GREAT value! Motivational speakers everywhere need to read this blog post! 

  4. Spot on, Dave. Humor certainly helps and appreciate the reminder to not try to make too many points, but rather drive one home hard.

  5. Thanks all!


  1. […] Motivational speaker Dave Lieber, a newspaper columnist and professional speakers, was recently asked to give his best advice for public speakers in 2014.  […]

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