50 New Year's Resolutions for Public Speakers

New Year's Resolutions

Here are 50 New Year’s Resolutions 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.

So pick your favourite New Year’s Resolutions or add your own. Happy New Year!

Photo courtesy of virginsuicide photography

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    1. 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.

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. Hola Jorge y muchas gracias! I would be delighted if you wanted to translate my post into Spanish. Please go ahead and please feel free to translate any other posts that you like into Spanish.
      My best wishes to you for 2012.

    1. 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.

  3. 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 !

  4. 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.

  5. 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!


  6. 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 🙂

    1. 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.

  7. 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.”

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. 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,

  10. 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.

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International