4 essential tips for every (novice) speaker

As a novice speaker, a lot comes your way. What should you tell? How do you tell it? And do you need to do anything visual? Where do you start? Professional speaker and speaker coach Richard de Hoop gives you his best 4 tips.


One of the most important aspects of your presentation is the structure you adopt " says Richard. Language is the only weapon we have to make what is going on inside us understandable to others, besides the body language you use. It is therefore important that your story has a logical structure. Unfortunately, we are often not taught this properly from school, in our culture we are not very familiar with beautiful speech. Rhetoric like in the time of Socrates, where people thought about pathos, logos and ethos, that comes up little now. Still, it is important to think not only about what exactly you are saying, but also how you say it.

A keynote speaker is someone who deploys the key note - or, in other words, the key - and thus sets the tone for the day. That means you have to know damn well exactly what tone it should be, and so you have to think carefully about that."

A story with a clear message, a logical structure and a strong delivery will go down best with your audience. What can help you create a strong story is to write out your story completely and to do so in certain chapters. That way, you can clearly see whether the structure of your story is logical and you can think about where the accents in your story should be during your performance. You can presentation canvas use as a guide here.

Mockup - Presentation Canvas


The Speakers Club presentation canvas© gets you thinking!

What message do you want to convey, how do you connect with your target audience and what resources do you deploy? Fill the canvas with your own content! 

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To set the right tone, you need good preparation, Richard points out: "Above all, be aware that you cannot go on stage unprepared. Don't think you can tell a story without first testing it in tiguous places and make sure you have really good critics who want to put the thumbscrews to you. After all, you want people to go home thinking 'I have to tell this to my partner...'. Always make sure people are touched when they go out; you achieve that mainly by practising and keeping turning the knobs. Just be careful not to over-direct your presentation, because your story will lose its spontaneity and its power."

Schedule 5 appointments that give you the opportunity to practice speaking. Consider business clubs, sports clubs, schools, etc. These are perfect venues to test your performance. It can also help to record yourself with a camera, so you can look back at your own performance and see where you need to fine-tune.


After all, you can only grow from constructive criticism, argues Richard. "Make sure you gather people around you who can give you critical feedback that really helps you. You want to get feedback from people who can give you feedback on all aspects of your talk and who can be honest about both the content and form of your presentation. Preferably, these are people who understand what it is like to be on stage. Therefore, you may have to invest in yourself to make this happen. Indeed, as long as you have critics who know what they are talking about and whom you trust, that way you can build on."

DO: Don't wait for feedback from your audience, but actively ask them about it. Poll whether your story was clear and which parts were not. Take the presentation canvas and run through it with your critics: how do you score on this, what were you very good at and where can you improve?


Do you present for yourself or do you present for your audience? Although it seems like an easy question, the answer doesn't always turn out to be that. "Realise at all times that you are speaking for your audience, not for yourself. They are making the commitment to give you their attention and listen to you, so you owe it to them to put your effort into that," Richard believes. "If you take speaking seriously, your audience will take you seriously too. For example, I myself always make sure I am there well in advance with my technician to run through the technology, because then we can be sure everything is running. Even if I have to be there at 8 o'clock when I don't have to speak until 5 o'clock, that is something I am prepared to do for my work. Anything to make sure I can be on stage later and take the audience with me completely, after all, I'm doing it for them."

DO:  Make a checklist for yourself that you must have gone through before you take the stage: have I tested my presentation, thought about my outfit, done background research on the venue, coordinated the content with the client, etc.? Also be aware of not using your presentation as a cheat sheet; the presentation is there to help the audience, not yourself.

Richard de Hoop - Action


Richard de Hoop is the first Dutch speaker with an SBH Professional Speaker certificate - an MBA for speakers - and has been inspiring audiences on topics such as collaboration and resilience for years. Among other things, he does this as a guest lecturer for various Dutch universities of applied sciences. A speaker with enormous experience, passion and creativity who can get everything out of your presentation. This article, based on an interview with Richard, is the first in a series of six blog articles from the series 'Keynote speakers under the microscope'.

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