Who among us isn’t always trying to improve our public speaking?  And who among us wouldn’t secretly love to learn that there are some easy tricks that will increase your ratings by audiences everywhere – tricks that require virtually no effort on your part?

OK, I’m not calling you lazy, but I am offering these to you in the spirit of making 2018 a little more easy-going than 2017, which was a tough year, many people tell me.  Have a little fun with these, take them with just a bit of salt, and take the rest of the day off on me.

1.Get a tan.  If you can increase your darker skin tones, you look healthier, and we tend to rate healthy-looking speakers more highly than sickly-looking ones.  Remind me to tell you about the time I had to give a speech at Harvard after getting food poisoning on the road the day before in Chicago.  So, especially if you’re starting look like Casper the Friendly Ghost because you live in some cold, sunless, Northern clime, or you’ve just ingested some spoiled shrimp, then a little bronzing will increase the unconscious bias in your favor.  Get to the beach!  Or the tanning salon!  And if you can’t afford the beach, or the salon, apparently beta-carotene supplements will do the trick.

(Please note:  this is not medical advice and I am not your physician.)

2.Walk with a bit of swagger. You know those slow-motion moments in movies today – they’ve become a bit of a cliché – where the team steps out, with confidence and a touch of arrogance because they’re just about to kick some *ss? Like that.  Walk like that.  The confidence you signal will make you more popular.  Don’t walk in slow motion, though; that would be weird.

3.Increase your agreeability.  We also like people who are simply pleasant.  Smiling and nodding costs you next to nothing, and it increases your ratings.  Just don’t be smiling when you deliver bad news.  That looks creepy.

4.Wear red. This one has a sexist twist. Apparently, men who wear red are perceived as more dominant, but women who wear red are perceived as sexier – a mixed signal for a speaker.  And other women may be more likely to see a woman wearing red as a rival.  So women please take this advice with caution.

5.Grow a beard.  This one is sexist, too.  For male readers, apparently having a beard makes you look more competent.  I’m assuming that we’re talking about a well-trimmed, nice-looking beard, not a mare’s nest.  I have no comment at all on man buns.

6.Be helpful to the audience. This one might involve some actual work, like thinking up a way in which you might be helpful to the audience. But on the whole, we like people who help us.  So give out a coupon or discount to one of your books, or something like that, perhaps.  Or maybe, like Oprah, you should just give everyone a car.

7.Walk on to some hit song. (But get the rights.) Music is a quick shortcut to the emotions, and one of the surest ways to get the audience jacked up is to play some hit song.  It’s corny, but it works.  I’m always astonished that more conferences don’t use more music.  And the ones that do tend to use banal stuff.  Of course, you need to get permission, but with some advance planning and thoughtful choices, you can get some recognizable music for a very reasonable fee

There you have it.  Really easy, lazy hacks for improving your speaker ratings in 2018.  Take with caution, and of course don’t forget to do the hard work too. (With thanks to the Psyblog post that inspired in part this only slightly frivolous application to public speaking.  It’s one of my favorite blogs and highly recommended.  It deserves none of the blame if you actually take this advice to aid your public speaking.)







  1. And of course, I could tick 6 out of 7 of those boxes simultaneously by setting fire to my beard as I swagger onto the stage grinning to the tune “Burn Baby Burn”.

    Not sure how helpful that would be to the audience though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.