Regardless of the title on your business card, everyone is a sales person whether you want to admit it or not.  Why?  Because from the time you get up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night, you are continually communicating, negotiating, persuading, influencing and selling ideas.

When you can get up on your feet and talk extemporaneously on a lot of subjects, this instills confidence, develops poise and breeds conviction.  You become more convincing in your meetings and your encounters.  And you become a better leader, manager and salesperson.

I never pass up an opportunity to promote Toastmasters International, which started in 1924 and today has 292,000 members in 122 countries and nearly 15,000 member clubs.  Toastmasters changed my life.

Another organization that can dramatically change your life is Dale Carnegie Training. I am also a proud graduate of Dale Carnegie.

You may not aspire to a public speaking career, but chances are, you will need to speak in front of a group at some point.  I have a very useful tool to make speaking easier.  It’s called “Harvey Mackay’s 35 To Stay Alive.”  It’s available free at  I’ve chosen a few key tips from that tool.


The three most important keys on giving a good speech are:  1) Room size.  2) Room size.  3) Room size.  You want the excitement and chemistry of a standing room only, bumper-to-bumper crowd.  Extra space is a killer.  Also try to avoid rooms with high ceilings.

Have the first row set very close to the stage.  Too much space between the speaker and the first row can destroy connection with the audience.

Studies show people remember more and laugh more in brightness.  Turn the lights up full blast, unless you are showing overheads.

Practice … Practice … Practice.  Know your stuff.  Don’t ever give another speech without it being entertaining as well as educational.

Never, never, never end your program with a question and answer session.  You cannot control the agenda or the quality of the questions.  Start the Q & A five minutes before the end of your talk, then end with an awesome story.

Find out who the group’s last three to five speakers were and how they were received.  Ask why they were successful or why they failed.

Contact the Chamber of Commerce of any city you are to speak in.  They will give you loads of information to familiarize you with the local surroundings and help you personalize your remarks.

Never mispronounce a person’s name.  If you’re not sure, check with the sponsor.  Then double check.

Stick to your allotted time and don’t go over it.

If you don’t have a smashing “opener” and “closer,” go back to the drawing board.  Don’t step up to the microphone until you do.

And finally, number 35 on the list:  Debrief yourself within twenty-four hours of a speech, and take ten minutes to write down what you could do better the next time.  Try something new every time you speak and you’ll never become stale.

Above all, you must know your audience.  For example, Harold calls Al and asks him if he is coming to the Rotary meeting tomorrow night.

Al says, “Yes.”

Harold says, “I have a problem.  My guest speaker just cancelled.  Might you be able to fill in?”  Al says he will be happy to.

Harold says, “What might you talk about?”

Al says, “Oh I don’t know … I’ll probably talk about sex.”

The next day Al gives his speech and gets a standing ovation.  Al goes home and his wife asks him how his speech went.  Al says, “Very well.”

His wife asks, “What did you talk about?”

Now Al knows his wife doesn’t think he knows anything about sex, so Al says, “skiing.”

“Oh,” she says, “I see, skiing.”

The next day Al’s wife is at the supermarket and runs into Harold’s wife.  And Harold’s wife says, “I heard your husband gave a great speech at Rotary.  He must be terrific.”

And Al’s wife says, “I don’t understand.  He has only done it once and his hat blew off.”


Mackay’s Moral:  A public speaker should stand up to be seen, speak up to be heard and shut up to be appreciated.

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}