You walk up to the podium. The audience stares blankly.

You only have a few minutes, maybe an hour. How do you wow the crowd?

Even for experienced public speakers, getting in front of a large crowd can be daunting. Keep in mind these tips before your next speaking engagement:


With a smaller crowd, you might be able to improvise. But knowing your material and practicing it beforehand can help calm your nerves in front of a larger group.

In addition, preparation means the audio/visual components are all set and ready to go. You’ll be speaking into a microphone – try to do a mic check beforehand to make sure it sounds as it should. If you’ve got a slideshow or visual component, don’t forget to include that in any practice runs. You want it to add to rather than distract from your message.

Be Real

Once you know the material, you can break away from it a bit. Don’t sound like a robot. Connect with the audience in some way – whether that’s with a personal story they can relate to or a fun fact. For example, in 2005, Steve Jobs began a commencement speech by telling a personal story of resilience: the time he dropped out of college. Sharing something that personal drew the crowd in for the rest of his speech.

Involve the Audience

This is a good way to be present and not sound like a voice recording. After all, a speaking event is never about you. It’s about the people you’re speaking to. Sometimes that means knowing them – pointing out things they’re good at and knowing why they’re there. If you’re good at jokes, start with a few.

Another way to involve them is to poll the audience with a show of hands or get them moving with a brief activity. Ask questions and allow time for the audience members to respond. No matter what you plan, make sure you have the logistics worked out and know how it will fit into your final goal.

With a bit of preparation and a willingness to go with the flow, your speech can go off without a hitch, no matter the size of the crowd.

Pick the Right Location

Don’t forget that the space in which you’re giving the speech matters. If the speech requires technical components, you’ll want to be somewhere with high-speed wifi and audio-visual equipment to make that happen. You’ll also want a location that fits the crowd.

If you’re still looking for a venue, consider Heritage Center. With our full dining services and beautiful meeting spaces, we’re one of the premiere private corporate event venues in the Minneapolis area.