Skip Navigation

8 Speaking Tips for Consultants

By Michael Zipursky

Not too long ago I got a call from one of the country’s largest banks. They asked if I’d give a marketing presentation to some of their business customers.

A few weeks later I gave a talk to 30 business owners and about 15 of the banks staff.

The presentation was one I hadn’t given before and I think it went quite well.

Speaking is a very powerful business tool

At the end of the presentation we had a great Q&A session. And when that was finished I was swarmed by 5 or 6 business owners that were interested in my consulting services. (This was nice to see though I haven’t taken on new clients for over a year – my current load is heavy enough to say the least).

I was paid to give the presentation and have been asked to give the presentation again, this time at a different branch.

So let me share with you a few tips on speaking and giving presentations…

1. The money will come – Unless you’ve been speaking for a while don’t worry about asking for money for your first few presentations. The business you’ll get out of speaking will more than make up for the time you put into it.

2. You’re in need – There are countless organizations, from rotary clubs and non-profits, to banks and other large companies just to name a few that would love to have you speak. All you need to do is pick up the phone and call them. Tell them about your presentation and that you’d like to share your experiences with others. They’ll be happy to take you up on your offer if they have a need – especially if they don’t have to pay you.

3. Make it visual – Your presentation should be 90% visual and the rest can be text. Watch a presentation by Guy Kawasaki or Seth Godin to see how powerful visual presentation can be. This way you won’t bore your audience. There’s more life in images than there are in words.

4. Know it cold – The more you practice your presentation the more confident you’ll become. And the more confident you are the better presentation you’ll give. Practice several times.

5. Give it away – Don’t be scared to share your insider knowledge. Give techniques, strategies – pretty much don’t hold things back. Of course you can’t go into crazy detail but your presentation should deliver real value. Often this can be measured by the audience feeling that they can go home and apply what they just learned.

6. Make it easy – On the last slide of your presentation be sure to include your contact information. While you’re doing your Q&A or as things wrap up the audience can write down how to get in contact with you. Small things like this are often forgotten. But remember, if they don’t have your contact information they’re not going to contact you.

7. Don’t be salesy – Your presentation should educate, not sell. If you try to praise yourself too much or persuade the audience to do business with you they’ll see right through it and you’ll be done. By educating and being genuine you’ll become an authority in the audiences’ minds.

8. Bring those cards – Don’t leave home without your business cards. You’ll need lots of them.

There you have it. A few speaking tips to help all y’all consultants and freelancers out there.

Have other tips for speaking? Do share in the comments below…

18 thoughts on “8 Speaking Tips for Consultants

  1. I appreciate the tips, don't underestimate the power of good visuals. If anything goes wrong with audio, but you have great visuals to back it up, your presentation can still be a success.

  2. Johanas Strut says:

    Very good article. These tips will be useful thank u for sharing them.

  3. Andrew Pochatko says:

    What organizations would be good candidates for speaking engagements? I am currently in the suburbs of San Francisco..

    • Andrew – check out local chambers of commerce, rotary clubs, real estate and other industry boards (there are tons of these), non-profits, and trade associations to get started 😉

  4. Hi Michael – great information. – and very timely!

    I have just launched my own small concern ( and have 1 paying client and 3 'love' jobs (to try to get some local street 'cred'. I had some local tradesmen lined up as clients but an unforeseen side effect of the floods in Queensland ( I'm in NSW in Australia) is that tradies have gone North as there is so much work to be had…

    The advice in this post has given me another avenue to pursue in my quest to get a few more clients in and to pay the bills 😉 !!


    • Geoff – thanks for sharing your story! Give it a go. Speaking can be a very effective way to line up new clients and as you get more experience (get paid at the same time) 🙂 Keep us posted on how things go for you.

  5. Hey Michael:

    Sage advice…very good tips…sharing with my speaker/consultant buddies. The only add would be around the visuals. Don't confuse visuals with "more PowerPoint slides." Of course it depends on the audience and the content, but storytelling that displays your expertise (in a humbled way) is a compelling way to keep your audience engaged and wanting more. Consultants (and everyone else) sometimes make the mistake that to display your expertise and credibility…you have to have slide after slide of data and more data that the audience does not really need (or want). And to you point, Guy and Seth do a bang up job on this. But I have sat in more presentations that should be very interesting due to the subject matter and even the speaker's professional legacy, but ends up being a yawn due to the "visual add ons."

    Keep up the great work….appreciate your site as a value-added resource.


    • Paul – thanks for the comment and sharing the post with others! Definitely appreciate that.

      I agree. Too much text or data can be a distraction to the main point you want to make in the presentation as well as an eyesore that puts people to sleep.

      Guy Kawasaki has a great outline on this here:

  6. Dave Radetsky says:

    Never rely on visuals alone. Your presentation should be so strong that with absolutely no visuals you can carry the presentation just by speaking. You never know when everything is going to go down. My most effective presentations have always been without anything other than my speaking. When you have that down cold, then the visuals or anything else are icing on the cake but you're never caught unprepared.

    • Dave – that's a great point.

      While it's the most boring point to think about…there is no replacement for practice and preparation of the presentation. When you know your stuff you exude confidence and the audience sees that.

  7. From these thoughts that you had shared, it will going to inspire businessmen to try this strategy. It will be there wonderful guide for them.

  8. Jwilliams says:

    In addition to knowing my material (with and without visual aids), it is important to make eye contact with the audience. My presentations usually have a personal appeal.

  9. Dandy Esp79 says:

    A very good concept. thanks a lot for sharing of the topic.

  10. I like that you suggested that consultants should make their presentations 90% video and 10% text. I’ll have to tell my best friend about that tomorrow night. I’m planning on giving him a call to ask about a few other things, and I’m sure this advice would help him. I’m sure he will be able to help others around him with this knowledge.

Leave a Comment, Join the Conversation!