Happy New Year to all, and here’s to a successful, passionate, clarity-filled year for all of us as public speakers in 2017.  As I noted before the break, we are working in turbulent times – at least we truly believe that to be the case, which is what matters for our stress levels – and so we need to be in top form to succeed this year.  Accordingly, I’ve pulled together some insider tips for greatness in the months ahead.  Enjoy, and good hunting!

1.Treat the meeting planners, speaker bureaus, tech people, support staff, and everyone else, like the golden assets that they are.  You need them and their help to be the great speaker you want to be.  Don’t treat them like second-class citizens!

2.Take care of yourself – diet, exercise, mental health, the works. Especially take care of your adrenaline – it’s your best friend when it’s with you, but your worst enemy when it leaves, so pay attention and manage your adrenaline cycle.

3.Get the best equipment you can afford, take care of it, and never blame it when it fails you. Have a non-tech version of your talk ready to go, always. Always!

4.Trust your message. Don’t bother doubting it – that’s just your fears talking. But do refresh it regularly, pay attention to the competition, and learn new material.  The shelf life of your speech used to be three years, give or take.  Now, it’s a year.  Give or take.

5.When you get on stage, savor the moment and be present. Don’t be thinking about the next flight, or your next drink, or the next audience. The one in front of you is the only audience that will ever exist.

6.Say yes to the gig, if you possibly can do it. But don’t sell yourself short. When they say, “We have no budget,” hear that as the beginning of a negotiation, not a serious invitation to speak for free.

7.Don’t allow yourself to get so stressed out by speaking that you forget to take your laughs where you can. Travel is stressful – but it’s also funny, if you can take a moment to find the humor. So is speaking.

8.Add an extra day onto the exotic locale you’re speaking in and have a wander around. You’ll kick yourself if you spend all your travel in airports, hotels, and conference rooms. They all look the same.  They all are the same.  That’s not where the adventure is.

9.The real opportunity in a life on the road is the people you meet. Listen to them. Interview them as if they were the Pope and you were Walter Cronkite.  Write down what they say and learn from it.

10.Make up your own mind. What I’ve learned myself and from others is reflected here, but your mileage will vary.  So figure out why, find a smarter way, a better life hack, and have a blast.

Public speaking – especially paid public speaking – is an enormous gift and privilege.  Have an open, incredible, grateful journey.  And tell me how you made out.





  1. Nick, What an awesome list. Thank you!

    I’d add one — use your many frequent flyer points to upgrade the flights to your speaking gigs. Don’t be a miser (like I used to be) and hoard them for your next vacation. Traveling in comfort, especially international flights, makes the entire experience so much better!

    Here’s to a great 2017!

    1. Thanks, David — great point. Now, here’s hoping that everyone gets all those FF miles and uses them — because they’re booking so many gigs!

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