Expert Advice Before Your First Time Public Speaking

Welcome to the #365Firsts Podcast and the Expert Advice Before Your First Time Series. The show aims to encourage, prepare, and inspire you to do things you’ve never done before and complete your #365FirstsChallenge list. 

In each episode of this series, we give you tips and advice to set you up for success for specific firsts and new experiences. The guests and topics are as varied as the options and possibilities of new experiences. 

Whether you’re trying to learn a new skill, improve your health and happiness, work on your self-development, add excitement and adventure to your life, or simply have first times, you’re going to love our podcast.

On this Episode

It’s a New Year. A new decade. And you’ve decided this is the year you’re going to make an attempt at public speaking!

Congratulations! We’re all for that. There’s no need to be so afraid of public speaking. 

In today’s episode, we’re going to take a look at what you need to know and do before your first go at public speaking. We’re pleased to have been joined by a bonafide expert in this field-Al Jensen. 

The Guest Expert

Our expert for this episode is Al Jensen, who’s been speaking to crowds since the age of 15. Al currently works as the Dean of the Speakers Academy for the Las Vegas chapter of the National Speakers Association. He’s also the owner and operator of the Las Vegas Public Speakers Club, and the Principal of the Next Stage Executive Speech Coaching Company.

So, it’s safe to say that he knows his craft pretty well.

He has a background as an author and as an entrepreneur too, and has worked in various corporate sales roles all across America. He has a great understanding of how to connect with audiences and work within businesses. We actually met at a speakers networking event, which is how we decided on doing an episode together.

We started the episode off by discussing Al’s public speaking origins; which turned out to be entirely accidental. At the age of 15 he signed up to be on the County Council for the 4H agriculture program. He signed up to impress a girl, without realizing that he had to go on stage and give an election speech!

He won the election and joined the council, which led to him being promoted and escalated towards different positions of seniority. Due to his various roles, he ended up traveling a lot to go and speak to local people, and persuade them why they should be interested in working with the 4H cause. It’s a part of his life that shaped his career to be what it is now.

What are the most important things to do before public speaking?

Prepare what to say with the end in mind. 

To start off with, Al says that it’s important to start at the end. Decide on your main aim with your speech- what is it that you want them to do? Do you want your audience to go away and sign up to a website, or agree with you implementing a new policy in the workplace? Having a clear and defined goal in mind will help you shape your speech effectively.

Start with a compelling closing statement and call for action.

Use the previous point to write a compelling closing statement (don’t forget the call to action!) and then work on your opening. Craft an intriguing set up, and make sure to humanize it as much as possible. Using too many facts and generic statistics is a surefire way to make sure that your audience tunes out.

Stories. Stories. Stories. 

Working with memorable, personable stories is the best way to make sure that your key messages are put into context and that they stick with your audience. Telling a story will move your audience to act, and show them how deeply you care about the chosen subject matter.

Find the friendly face(s) in the audience

One of the best points that Al gives in this episode is to imagine that when you’re on stage or in front of your audience, you’re only speaking to one person. Pick one friendly face (or a few faces if you’re more confident) and try to just speak to them. Don’t let the number of viewers frighten you- simply focus on your chosen person and give them an engaging show.

Forget perfection. Keep practicing. 

Al also refers to the idea of ‘stagecraft’ throughout the episode. He notes the importance of pacing, intonation, and body language. All things that must be constantly practiced and are works in progress. You will suck the first time. That’s okay. Keep practicing.

He provides great resources available to practice and work on the craft of public speaking. 

Being nervous is normal. Use it to your benefit. 

One thing that might surprise people when hearing Al’s words is that he says he still gets nervous before going on stage, even though he’s done countless performances and speeches. He notes that he tries to harness the butterflies in his stomach and use the nerves to power his way through the speech, and agrees that it is completely natural to be anxious before public speaking.

The nerves simply show that you care about doing well. 

Don’t Forget

Keep yourself hydrated and make sure that you’re wearing appropriate, comfortable clothes to keep yourself calm and happy.

How to Contact Al 

Personal Speaker’s Website

Next Stage Communications 


Engage with Us

We want to hear from you!! What’s on your list? What expert advice do you need to get going? Drop us a message and let us know.

New episodes of The Expert Advice Before Your First Time Series are released each Tuesday and Thursday.

You can listen and subscribe on: Apple, Google, or Spotify

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