Public Speaking Tips. Filmed In Zurich During WriteCon By Joanna Penn

Speaking is a core part of my business, and I really enjoy sharing my enthusiasm with other people, educating and empowering authors.

Joanna Penn speaking at Zurich Write ConHowever, I get a lot of questions about how to actually do public speaking, as well as how to learn and get speaking appearances.

So here’s a few tips I recorded in Zurich while at Nuance WriteCon last weekend, interspersed with some images of the event. Below the video is a text round-up in case you want to read.

In the video I mention:

  • Joanna Penn speaking at WriteCon ZurichMy #1 tip is preparation. Do a questionnaire beforehand to get a sense of the participants and then be sure to tailor your material to the event. You should never give the same talk twice basically. I use slides but in the style of TED talks or Zen presentation, so more pictures than words, adding a different dimension to the talk.
  • I also carry my material on a laptop and a separate USB stick as well  I also email it to the workshop organizer and I put it on the internet in case things go wrong and I have to download it. I print out a paper copy just in case it all goes wrong!
  • If you feel nervous, try reframing those feelings as the energy you need for the performance. A teacher of mine, Robert Rabbin calls it ‘shakti’, and it helps you perform.
  • Speaking is a kind of performance, and I am 150% me when I speak. I am an energetic speaker but I am not like that all the time. I am an introvert so I need to recharge my energy alone later but the actual event is a performance, but an authentic one.
  • Zurich WriteCon panelWhy I love speaking and learning how to speak. I joined National Speaker’s Association (in Australia but there are global chapters) and I went on an Academy and learned from other professional speakers. I spoke for free a lot before charging for my appearances.
  • Learning as you go is critical so I like to use a feedback form so I can craft the material for next time and also get testimonials from happy customers!
  • How to get speaking appearances. For me, it’s based on my platform online – this blog, twitter and word-of-mouth recommendations. I don’t solicit for speaking usually, but I am always open to options!

I am available to speak for 1 hour all the way to multi-day events. Popular topics include self-publishing/independent publishing, online platform building, digital marketing, branding, multimedia and aspects of writing. Audiences are often authors, publishing industry people or small business/ entrepreneurs. More details and testimonials on my speaking page.

“Joanna is the Energiser Bunny of writing, publishing and book marketing” Michelle Beck.

Do you have any questions or tips about public speaking? Please do share them in the comments below.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. says

    I admire you so much for your abilities, Joanna. As a fellow introvert (and a shy one at that), it’s difficult for me to image speaking to a crowd. Your tips are excellent–especially the one about having multiple copies of everything in case “it all goes wrong!”

  2. says

    Thanks for some great advice, Joanna. I’m something of an introvert when it comes to verbally talking about my own work to a group, but I find myself flourishing in one-on-one situations and actually get the sense that my energy and passion for what I do really makes an impact.

    If I could just translate that to larger groups, then I’d have a lot more fun! With your tips, I might just give it a shot.

    Thanks again,

    • says

      Hi Ryan, I think one of the other tips is always to focus on what the audience is getting from it. So we’re not talking about our work, we’re always looking to help the audience with theirs. I definitely use my own life as examples, but the main focus is to deliver value to the people listening. If you think about that, and get out of your own way, you might enjoy it!

  3. says

    Hi Joanna,
    I thought I’d pass this public speaking tip on to your followers. When dealing with nerves, try clasping your hands across your mid-section and press your knuckles, or heel of your palm, against your solar plexus, which is in the ‘V’ at the base of your sternum, below your ribs. The pressure induces a calming effect on your central nervous system and relieves the butterflies as well as trembling. It looks totally natural and you can easily control the amount of pressure without anyone noticing.
    Try it. It really works!
    Garry Rodgers
    Vancouver, Canada

  4. says

    Man, your eyes are beautiful… Great tips. Watching some stand-up comedy is also useful, whilst your preparing for a speaking event. The key is to manifest yourself as you would with your friends, and let tone, body language, and proper/interesting words do the thing for you.

  5. says

    One additional thing I’d recommend is to sign up for Toastmasters. It gives you a friendly environment to learn how to speak. They’re all over the world, and you can probably find a club nearby.

    Even with Toastmasters, though, I was always so nervous and couldn’t get over that no matter what I did. One day I was at a work conference doing the audio visual. My boss came up to do the awards, so I hurried off the stage. I’d just bought a new pair of shoes, and my ankle rolled the minute I came off the carpet. Down I went. In front of 100 people. There was a collective gasp, and I bounced back up. After that, the nerves have been lest rampant. Though not recommended!

  6. says

    As a public speaking / presentation coach, these tips are all spot on! I especially appreciate the statement “I am 150% me when I speak.” My coaching philosophy is that speakers should always be themselves, but a more concentrated, energized, engaged version. That simple phrase perfectly captures what I want my clients to aim for when they speak. And for those of you who suffer from nerves or anxiety, Joanna is exactly right to suggest that you focus on the audience. If you’re focused on how they feel and what they get from the presentation, then you won’t be as worried about how you feel and the mistakes you worry you might make.


Leave a Reply

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