How to Make the MOST of a Talk Given

By: Shama Hyder

For the past month, I have been buzzing around the US giving talks-on everything from online marketing to social media marketing. And, I have been noticing how the audience observes and interacts. There is a lot said about how to give a great talk, but I believe there is also merit in knowing HOW to make the MOST of a talk given. Here are my tips to make the most of any talk!

1) Don’t give advice unless you KNOW for a fact. This is a pet peeve of mine as a speaker. An audience member will ask a question and another will chime in with their two-bit. Often, with the wrong or partially correct answer. If you feel the speaker didn’t answer the question fully, talk to the person with the question later and offer your insight.

2) Walk away with 1 DO IT point. This practice has improved my business tremendously. Any time I walk away from a talk or a panel, I choose 1 do-it point. Meaning one action I must implement. If you don’t think you can walk away from a talk with at least 1 to-do item, then skip it!

3) Ask questions (during and after). I LOVE an interactive audience. Ask questions, get involved, speak your mind! And yes, be respectful as you do it. Questions really allow some of the best takeaways to surface.

4) Ask for examples. Applicability is key! If the speaker is speaking in theory, ask for solid examples so you can learn how to do the same. Not all points require an example, but when in doubt-ask.

5) Avoid the “I know this” Syndrome. I haven’t personally encountered this as a speaker, but I have as a participant. Someone inevitably believes “i know this already…” If you don’t think you will get anything fresh from a talk, skip it. If you end up there, keep your mind open. An open attitude makes a big difference.

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  • Mitch

    I speak on diversity topics often, and it’s a tough subject. Sometimes people are there who don’t want to be there, and in those cases, I always have to deal with #5. However, one just has to plow through tough topics sometimes because it’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately, some topics can’t make everyone happy.

  • egruve

    I think the point # 2 is great , that is how I feel when attending any event try to walk away at least with 3 good points and start working on them immediately.


  • Melody Campbell, The Small Business Guru

    I once heard about a man who had a rule that notes from any meeting could only be 1 sheet of paper. He put this one sheet in a binder that he kept on his desk. Whenever he was on hold or had time in between appointments he would take out the binder and read through the notes. His goal was to get through the entire notebook every year at least once – so apparently he had been to many meetings.

    I don’t know that I would do this specifically but it’s probably smart to keep each speaker notes to 1 page and review them for at least 30 days depending on relevance and longevity of info.

  • Jun Loayza

    Hey Shama,

    When I give my speeches, I always try to put it in a story format. Stories stick, and if you can give a personal story that the audience can relate to, I feel that they will get more out of the speech because they will remember more of it.

    I think that most people only process and remember about 25% of a speech. The thing that they carry away with them is usually the “feeling” that they got from listening to you. They might feel that you were “impressive” or they might walk away feeling that you were “soft-spoken.” Even if the soft spoken speech had better content, people will think that the confident speaker was more impressive.

    I just checked out some of your speeches on Facebook. Great job!

    – Jun Loayza