50 New Year’s Resolutions for Public Speakers

Here are 50 ideas to help you take your public speaking to a new level in the New Year.

In no particular order:

1.  I will prepare.

2.  I will practice.

3.  I will have a clear message.

4.  I will be able to distill every speech and every presentation into a single sentence.

5.  I will always ask myself: “Why should the audience care about my message?”

6.  If I cannot answer that question, I will find a new message. Or a new audience.

7.  I will arrive early for my speaking engagements.

8.  I will make sure that the equipment works.

9.  I will have a back-up plan in case the equipment doesn’t work.

10.  I will be well rested before speaking.

11.  I will use less text in my slide presentations.

12.  I will use more images in my slide presentations.

13.  I will speak without a slide presentation.

14.  I will read Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.

15.  I will watch one TED Talk every week.

16.  I will get feedback on my performance.

17.  I will join Toastmasters or another speaking association.

18.  I will give a toast at a party.

19.  I will seek out speaking opportunities at work.

20.  I will seek out speaking opportunities in my community.

21.  I will join public speaking groups on LinkedIn.

22.  I will actively participate in discussions in those groups.

23.  I will read Resonate by Nancy Duarte.

24.  I will get comfortable using props.

25.  I will give a speech without notes.

26.  I will tell more stories.

27.  I will smile.

28.  I will remember that being a little nervous before a speech is normal.

29.  I will make eye contact with the audience.

30.  I will read good blogs on public speaking such as the ones found here.

31.  I will pause effectively.

32.  I will find out as much as I can about my audience beforehand.

33.  I will not speak longer than my allotted time.

34.  I will get comfortable using a remote control for my slide presentations.

35.  I will read Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

36.  I will be passionate.

37.  I will breathe deeply.

38.  I will video myself speaking.

39.  I will watch the videos.

40.  I will work on eliminating distracting gestures or habits.

41.  I will focus on the audience and not myself.

42.  I will use quotes.

43.  I will use humour, if appropriate.

44.  I will speak without using a lectern.

45.  I will be willing to be vulnerable on stage.

46.  I will remember that my audience doesn’t expect me to be perfect.

47.  I will remember that my audience does expect me to be present.

48.  I will remember that all the great speakers were bad speakers at first.

49.  I will recognize that there is always room for improvement.

50.  I will enjoy the ride.

Happy New Year!

Photo courtesy of virginsuicide photography

About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
This entry was posted in Motivation and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to 50 New Year’s Resolutions for Public Speakers

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  4. mattgold44 says:

    Happy New Year, John…from the past, or is it now the future? Whichever the case, I popped by your site, this was at the top, and this list of 50 still works well. I would like to share these this weekend with my class(es) of young speakers, discuss them (I will skip over some that don’t really apply yet to their situation) and ask them for their own resolutions. For me, the three that had the most resonance – and themes that I have explored a little – are #45-47:

    45. I will be willing to be vulnerable on stage.

    46. I will remember that my audience doesn’t expect me to be perfect.

    47. I will remember that my audience does expect me to be present.

    With that said and borrowed, Happy New Year to you and your readers – including me, I guess – and to use one of my own tags, I wish everyone a year of laughs, smiles, inspiration and just enough wisdom.

  5. I am a Toastmaster and have understood the importance of public speaking. But still need to implement a lot of things from your list! Thank you for sharing this!

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  7. Thanks for the ideas John. That was quite a list, and of course it’s still just as valid for 2013 and beyond!

    Two of my favourites are #4 (“distil every speech into a sentence”) and #11 (“use less text”).

    In fact with #4, rather than saying “I’ll be able to…”, I’d go further and say simply “I will…”. I’m sure most presenters don’t distil each talk into a sentence, and that’s one of the main reasons most talks are pretty awful – the speaker hasn’t defined what the desired outcome is, so they just “ramble” about the topic for (at least) the prescribed time!

    With #17 (Toastmasters), for anyone who’s curious what TM is like, here’s a 12-minute professional video that shows how their meetings work:

    And, as well as your idea to watch a TED talk every week, I can also recommend the work of Craig Valentine, former World Champion of Public Speaking. He offers a whole year of free weekly tips by podcast – and they even come with transcripts for those who’d rather read than listen! For anyone who’d like to register and start receiving your 52 weekly tips straight away, just visit http://www.52speakingtips.com.

    Anyway, I wish you a very happy and fruitful 2013. Good luck!

    • John Zimmer says:

      Dear Craig,

      Many thanks for the detailed comment. I appreciate your reflections. Thanks also for sharing the video about Toastmasters and the link to Craig Valentine’s tips. In fact, I am about 80% of the way through those tips myself!

      Wishing you continued success with your speaking engagements,


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  9. George Hayward says:

    Great post, thank you for sharing!

  10. Mark Worthy says:

    Thank you John. This will work great for my class!

    Best wishes for 2013,


  11. Claire Duffy says:

    Hello John – it’s nearly all over 2012-wise. I really like this list and plan to reblog it, but first – tell me, did you keep these resolutions?

    All the best for the New Year, and keep up the great work. I love to read what you have to say.

    • John Zimmer says:

      Dear Claire,

      Thanks for the message. I went back and had a look at the list. I surprised myself with how many of the resolutions I managed to keep, but of course there is plenty of space for improvement! I wish you much happiness and success in 2013!


  12. memyself says:

    Thanks for sharing … 🙂

    I don’t know maybe this should also be in there as well? “I shall commit to attend all my toastmasters club meetings.”

    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Alice and thanks for the comment. There is certainly no reason why the list has to stop at 50. (I just got tired!) And if a person belongs to Toastmasters or another speaking organization, then committing to attending meetings (and participating!) is a great resolution.


  13. memyself says:

    Very creative resolutions, I personally need to apply a few of them … am still new, at CC: 2, and so I need all the material/info./encouragement I can get. Thank you 🙂

    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Alice and thank you for the comment. Glad that you find the ideas useful. Best of luck with the journey! Remember to take it step by step. It is rarely a good idea to work on changing too many things at once. Rather, pick one or two points on which to work. Once you are comfortable with them, move on to something else. You’ll notice steady, concrete improvement.


  14. Adrienne Mclean says:

    Hi John,

    Fantastic! Thanks, I just love your 50 New Years Resolution list. Its great to have so many, all in one list to work on. Even if we gain a bit further on some of them, we’ll be ahead.

    Will forward it on. Have a great 2012!


    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      Thanks for the comment and kind words. Progress is what it’s all about. All the best for 2012 in the great Down Under.


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  16. Nabeesa says:

    I have already commented a while ago but forgot to click the two blocks below. Once again thank you for your great effort in sharing your valuble thoughts and experience.

  17. Jose says:

    Love it! All the best to you in 2012!

  18. Excellent post, John. (From one Canadian to another.) Dave

  19. Tunde says:

    Great job, John. Your list is indeed on point.

  20. Ozgur says:

    Like it very much. Short, relevant, inspiring.

    I enjoyed reading you in 2011. Looking forward to 2012.

    T H A N K Y O U !


  21. Dave Clark says:

    Excellent! If I may, here’s a 51st resolution: I will expect the unexpected.

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thanks very much for the comment and addition, Dave. You and other readers are most welcome to add to the list. It is much appreciated. And expecting the unexpected is a great suggestion. All the best in 2012.


  22. Diane says:

    Thank you, John. Love your list! Happy 2012!

  23. John,

    I really enjoy reading your post. I would like to translate it into Spanish, giving you all the credit of course and referring back to you website. What do you think? I just think this should be shared with pepole that perhaps can’t understand English.

    Thanks for sharing and I alredy included most of it in my speaker new year’s resolution list.

    Warm regards from Mexico.

  24. Alexandra Olsson says:

    Hi John!

    Thank you for putting that list together. Some points are “old” and some points are new. Have a very happy and successful new year!


    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Alexandra. Thanks very much for the comment. Yes, the list is a mix. I am sure that many people are doing many of these things already, but I wanted a list that would be useful for anyone regardless of their level.

      I hope that our paths cross next year somewhere in Europe. In the meantime, all the best for a great 2012.


  25. A great list to get everyone off to a great start for the new year!

  26. GREAT list, John!!

    I believe you’ve covered it very well.

    Thank for all your great work this past year. I’m looking forward to your 2012 Posts!

    The BEST to you in 2012!

    • John Zimmer says:

      Many thanks, Fred. There are undoubtedly other things that could be added, but I figured 50 was good for a start. Many thanks to you too for all of your efforts to help people improve their public speaking abilities. I wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2012.


  27. Love this! Will be sharing.

    Happy New Year!

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