[On] Point to Ponder: When You’re the Speaker

There’s a reason the On Point logo is an equilateral triangle. A triangle is the best “visual aid” when it comes to teaching and learning message mastery. One of the slides in my workshop presentations looks like this.

The Rhetorical Triangle sets the stage for every messaging project:

This 3-part blog post series digs into the “Speaker-Audience-Message” of the above triangle. Each component must be thoughtfully considered before message mastery is possible.
In today’s post, we begin with “S for Speaker.”

Let’s dissect each question with the acronym ‘SAM’ (Speaker/Audience/Message)

1) Who Should The Speaker Be?
Sometimes a team needs to choose who will pitch, present, instruct, etc.

Savant. The speaker needs to be an expert at the material. S/he must know the presentation material backward and forward, inside out and all around. This is not to be confused with being an ultra-expert who cannot see the big picture and might drag the audience into too much detail. And of course, the speaker must bring Story. That’s how we get to know them.

Affable. The speaker chosen should be engaging! Likable. Even entertaining to a degree. Audiences keep listening when speakers are confident, smile, and approachable.

Magnetism. This goes along with being affable, but is more about the internal passion the speaker emanates without much effort. We’re going for natural but controllable excitement. Speakers convey magnetism through their word choice, stories, and perhaps even most with their eyes.

2) What Does Every Speaker Inherently Bring?
We all have “speaker baggage”, things you need to remember not to do. It just depends on what yours is and how you handle it. My advice? Do everything you can to check that baggage at the door. Most speakers bring…

Shortcomings. This might be lack experience, a too-soft voice, meager confidence, too much tech-y talk, or trouble with fillers (ums, ahs). Tackle this with 1) Awareness, 2) Intention to Improve, and 3) Expert coaching if possible. Turn this S into “Solid Storytelling.”

Anxiety on stage. Everyone has this to a degree (me too!).  Frankly, some is healthy’; it means you care. We’re all some level of anxious, but we do not want that “A” to become “Afraid.” Turn this A into “Acting” and lean on “Adrenaline.”

It’s true. Talented speakers see their stage as a real stage. They up their game by using many of the same techniques actors do. Fake it till you make it rings true (but doesn’t include being deceptive or “fake” as a person). It means fake being an excellent presenter and in doing so, you’ll become one.

Mistakes from the past. One bad public speaking experience can really stick with us. Some can’t shake the feeling that the audience is somehow “out to get them.” The good news is, as we mature into adulthood, our audiences mature too. Turn this M into “Measurable Improvement.” Get a little better each time, recover well, and be forgiving of yourself.

3) What Should the Speaker do Once Taking the Floor?

Stand and Command.  You are in control of the room. I repeat: You’re in control of the room, so take it. Be “the force” in the room. This requires finesse, lest you mis-step and take advantage of that control. Just remember, although you control the message, the audience has the final word on whether or not the speech is a success.

Audiences want you to win. They are on your side. It’s true! Not only that, but they want to understand your concept. Investors want to want to invest. They recognize it takes courage, time, and preparation to present ideas in a cohesive and interesting fashion. Public speaking is hard work. Your audience knows, and even if you stumble, they want you to succeed. They are typically very forgiving.

Mix your verbals and non-verbals. Physically move toward the audience at the onset. Use pauses. Speak loud enough for everyone to hear. Engage with your eyes.  Remember that 70% of communication is non-verbal. What you wear, how you stand, how comfortable you appear, what you sound like – it’s all part of that triangle.

Final Thoughts:
Notice that the onus is on you the speaker.  So prepare! Rehearse! Tell a good story. One of the aspects of public speaking I love most is that it pushes any and every kind of speaker, every time. Every situation is new. You cannot deliver the same talk twice, not ever. Achieving presentation presence is a goal of all speakers, and with the rhetorical triangle on your side, it absolutely can be done.

If you’re getting on a stage today, may “the force” be with you!

Cindy Skalicky, is the owner of On Point Communications, LLC and an accomplished speaker and coach. She works with speakers on storytelling techniques, speech writing, finessing presentation presence and overall content development. She helps presenters Master their Messages. Contact Cindy at: info@onpoint-communications.com


Back To Blog


When speaking at the CTL conference this spring, I had the privilege to sit in on Cindy’s Storytelling talk. Cindy has an impressive background, and a wonderful approach to helping you present more effectively. Telling a compelling story is crucial for effective presentations that connect with your audience, and Cindy can equip you to prepare and present in a structured, but seemingly unrehearsed way.

Kristin Sherry, Author|Speaker|Coach

“Cindy was truly instrumental in getting a compelling, professional pitch deck put together. Without her structure and guidance on how to tell a compelling story, I know we wouldn’t have had nearly the success and traction that we have. I look forward to continuing to work with Cindy and making our pitch evolve alongside our business.”

Jennifer Henderson| CEO at Career Allies

“As a professional speaker, I know the value of getting feedback before giving an important speech. As I prepared my TEDx talk, Cindy was the perfect person to give me outside perspective. She did a beautiful job taking the many ideas I had floating around in my head and helping me select what to use, how to organize them, and how to tie it all together.

I love the way she coached, not trying to make her words my own, but instead, considering what I was trying to achieve and helping me stay true to my voice. If you have to stand and deliver a great talk, working with Cindy can help you ensure you’re at your best!”

Tanis Roeder, Elevate Your Communication

“Cindy, Your coaching was fantastic. You are so good at this. I have done a lot of this too, but I am in awe of your approach, the simplicity of your suggestions and your general professionalism. Thank you.”

Susan Strong, Director at SAGE Boulder

Tim Ash, Agent at The Group Real Estate