Entertain and Engage: Public Speaking Tips - InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto

Entertain and Engage: Public Speaking Tips


There is nothing better than an engaging speaker who takes you on a journey when you listen to them and nothing worse than a dry, dull oration that makes you wish you had slept through your alarm.

Here at InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto guests at high profile hotel events often get to enjoy the artistic musings of resident public speaker and Les Clefs d’Or Concierge Jacob Detering. Jacob views his work as less public speaker and more performance art, this allows him to create a more emotive experience for his audience.

After a particularly sterling example of his work, at a hotel industry event dinner here at the hotel this past February, we spoke with Jacob about his tips on preparing and delivering the ideal performance. The art of public speaking is nuanced and whilst there are different ways to approach success here are Jacob’s top four tips.

1. Understand the material & spend time with your client
I find that researching the assigned or chosen speaking topic allows the opportunity to find interesting and unique angles that share something new with the audience. In order to quickly build a relationship of trust with the listener, I use language relatable to the listening audience. Sharing personalised anecdotes or references with the audience further builds a rapport. When working with a client, I will spend time with them to fully understand any key messages or particular words or phrases that are important to them and remember to place them strategically in the presentation so they are the point that the audience remembers.

2. Don’t over practice & leave room to improvise
I avoid writing out what I will say word for word. For me public speaking is about being prepared, knowing the overall themes of the topic and then being free to improvise based on reading the mood of the people in the room. While there will be key messages to share (see point 1), preparation allows for the development of an outline or a framework where it’s possible to remain open to inspiration. This allows for a free-flowing natural tone that is substantially more engaging.

3. Put the listener at ease & calm your nerves
I’m lucky that I don’t seem to get nervous speaking in front of people. Of course feeling nervous is a completely natural response to being placed at the centre of attention. To remain at ease, instead of focusing on yourself and how you are performing and feeling, consider your audience. Possibly imagine you are speaking one-on-one with someone who is noticeably uncomfortable in the conversation. What language would you use to put them at ease? Perhaps use some humour or refer to a common experience. In the same way as speaking with one person, when speaking with an audience, helping to put them at ease will take the tension out of the air and in response, their comfort will help to alleviate any nervousness you may be feeling.

4. Read the audience & respond accordingly
Reading the audience is critical, not just to help put them at ease as noted, but also to assess the mood and feel of the room, so as to be able to tailor your content and message. This is why remaining free to improvise is so important. It may become evident that your audience isn’t following an early point which you may require explanation in a different way. Or it may be evident that they already know what you are talking about, which gives you an opportunity to increase the pace of the content. Reading the audience and making adjustments to your content is particularly important if using humour. You may find you can keep the content lighter to ensure everyone is engaged or dial back on the tone if it’s not going over so well.

As with anything, practice will improve technique, but these tips should help you when creating your next speech, presentation or performance.

Planning a meeting or event in Melbourne? Our team would love to speak to you about how we can work with you. And if needed, Jacob is available to add some wow to your next event. Contact the events team on +61 3 8627 1622 or events.icm@ihg.com


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