Stretch your Speaking – Introduction

This post is the first in a series about finding ways to stretch yourself when it comes to public speaking. The goal is to encourage people to explore different ways of developing their speaking skills and thus to become better speakers.
For the next posts in the series, please click here and here.


Happy New Year! We are one week into 2018 as I write this post. Are you off to a good start? How about those resolutions? Get more exercise; eat better; learn a new language; find a new job. Have you made any progress?

What about your public speaking? What would you like to accomplish in the remaining 358 days?

Whatever your public speaking goals, I’d like to give you another one:


Improving your public speaking skills is commendable. It is something that I constantly try to do. But if you only speak in one type of situation or to one type of audience or at one venue, there is a risk that you will become comfortable and complacent. And when that happens, personal growth tends to stagnate.

If you only present to your department colleagues, if you only give speeches at your Toastmasters club, you may well become adept at those types of speaking engagements. But if you never leave your comfort zone, how do you expect to reach your potential?

Why not stretch your speaking skills this year by actively seeking out situations or audiences that are new? That make you uncomfortable? That scare you? As I have said before, public speaking is like cross-training; the more different kinds of speaking you do, the better speaker you will become. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

In the coming days, I’ll share different ways in which you can stretch your speaking in the coming year. These are all things that I have done and will continue to do. And if you have any thoughts or experiences of your own, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or on any of the upcoming posts.

Start warming up. It’s going to be a fun year!

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest
Picture of johnzimmer


  1. Thank you for this recommendation. It’s really necessary to explore new avenues. I experienced few challenges when I decided to play an active role in our (Sierra Leone) political campaign process for our 2018 March 7 elections. Looking forward to receiving your guide on this.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Yunus. Good for you for getting involved politically. Years ago, I worked in the Reparations Programme at the International Organization for Migration. Several of my colleagues were involved in a project in Sierra Leone and they all had wonderful things to say about your country. Good luck with the work ahead.

  2. Great Post John.

    I have been following your blog for a while know but this prompted me to comment.

    I had this resolution for 2017 and greatly benefited by it. Even simply giving a speech in another neighboring club made me realize, how far I had to go still, as new audience and new environment put new stress on my speaking. As I continued to do it all the year, I learned a lot (especially trying stand up was a whole new challenge) and I continue to stretch further in 2018.


    1. Thank you very much for sharing your experience, Zain. Stand-up is a great way to stretch yourself and, in fact, I did the same thing myself last year. It will be the subject of the next post in the series.

  3. I have really enjoyed being interviewed because it assures that I’m answering the questions that the person listening actually wants answered. How do I make sure I hit the mark on what and how much to say when I’m speaking on my own for an hour class. The last thing I want to do is bore an audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 + sixteen =


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