25 Phrases to Guide you to Greatness in Speaking

There I was, driving down Interstate 95, listening to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones on audio CD the day after I shared the stage with him years ago. Suddenly, he gave the advice that changed my life as a speaker. It can change yours too.

He said,

Don’t get your audience to listen and memorize; get them to think and realize

That statement changed the way I speak because it made me focus on getting my audience to reflect more. It’s only when they reflect, rather than simply listen, that they change their lives.

In this spirit, instead of giving you a lesson to listen to, you get the opportunity to reflect. These are 25 of the Phrases that continue to guide me in my public speaking efforts. If you think deeply about each of these and reflect on how you can apply them, they will guide you to greatness in speaking.

At the risk of making them sound too important, I do strongly make the following 3 suggestions:


Print out these 25 Phrases and tack them up where you can see them on a daily basis. Each phrase will come into focus for you at different times and lift your speeches to new heights as you internalize them.


Pick a couple of the phrases now and comment on them in the blog. I will respond to your comments thereby providing any clarity you (or I) might need. This is meant to be a reflection exercise and an interaction with me.


Discuss the list with another speaker/presenter. Talk about what you feel the phrases mean and how you might apply some of them. Think about where you are strong or weak when it comes to adhering to the phrases.

25 Phrases to Guide you to Greatness in Speaking

• Speak to one but look to all

• When you lift yourself up you let your audience down

• What gets recorded gets rewarded

• Don’t add humor to a speech; uncover humor within it

• What’s loose is lost

• When you squeeze your information in, you squeeze your audience out (this is an old speaker proverb).

• You master what you measure

• Conflict is the hook and Dialogue is the heart

• Put the process, not the person, on a pedestal

• The Foundational Phrase determines what stays

• To be a great speaker you must be a great tease

• Never come across as special; always come across as similar with a special process

• Never sell a product, always sell the result

• Let your old story lead to their new story

• Never end with the Q&A

• People remember best what they hear first and what they hear last

• Don’t tell; ask

• You can’t affect if they don’t reflect

• Become niche and famous (If you try to speak to everyone you will end up speaking to no one)

• A confused mind says no but a clear mind says go

• Give the visual before the verbal

• Give the look that goes with the line

• Reactions tell the story (Darren LaCroix)

• Too many speakers try to get across too much information in too little time

• Don’t speak for standing ovations, speak for standing invitations

 To get a better understanding of what these phrases mean and how life-changing they can be for your speaking, see the World Class Speaking book.

Craig Valentine

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