17 “No B.S.” public speaking tips from Dan Kennedy

Public Speaking Tips

As an authority, you need to be ready to get out in public and speak. The good news is that while most people fear pubic speaking it can be learned.

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”  Jerry Seinfeld

A tiny bit about the Authority Marketing Summit and Dan Kennedy

The ideas below are based on the Authority Marketing Summit, November 11-12, 2015 in Charleston South Carolina with Dan Kennedy and the Advantage Media Group.

Why read on? Dan Kennedy has been making over $1 million a year speaking for over a decade and has given over 3,500 paid speeches.  Dan has spoken with: Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Zig Zigler, Johnny Cash, Joe Montana, Donald Trump and many others. His hourly rate is $3,300 an hour and he has been featured in Time, USA Today, Forbes etc. and is the author of 27 books. Not a bad authority marketing and public speaking profile.

Reasons to do public speaking that make it worth pursuing

  1. Authority – resume building
  2. Visibility
  3. Influence
  4. Acquire lots of customers
  5. Whale hunt for large customers

One piece of great news is that a single signature speech can last you for years. Dan shared how Jim Rohn, Tony Robbin’s mentor, used the same speech for 35 years!

He also mentioned one of the early motivation speakers from the 1800’s, Russell Conwell, who gave his most famous “Acres of Diamonds” talk over 6,000 times! This produced over 8 million dollars in fees in 1870 and Russell then founded Temple University.

Discipline is the key and you need to make your message super powerful for a specific audience, even if it turns off others.

Here are some essential public speaking tips for making the most of your efforts and to help you avoiding being average.

  1. Establish Authority

Dan outlined how to establish authority with an audience.

  • Before you step on stage have someone or a video to introduce you and build you up
  • Have a strong physical appearance – people love royalty and authoritative figures
  • Dress extremely well and have commanding body language – Dan watches Donald Trump videos with the sound off for ideas.
  • Associate yourself with powerful entities by telling stories
  • When possible associate yourself with celebrities
  • Use video and photos to back this up
  • Use testimonials and or video testimonials specific to the audience
  • Use testimonial quotes from different segments of people, so you resonate with various groups (male, female, navy seals if they apply to your audience, academic etc.)
  • Use media / public relations mentions spe cific to the audience
  • Use stories that show you in a powerful light but be slightly self-deprecating
  • Be one of the audience but way above them
  • Use in depth facts, stats and research
  • Give a powerful demonstration

Authority sometimes Trumps conventional wisdom    

Whether you like Donald Trump or not, watching his poll numbers skyrocket, despite countless potential missteps, shows how sometimes people grant authority to those who exude confidence.

Authority Trump vs Bush

  1. Script everything

Rehearse like a pro and practice so many times that you could start from anywhere in the middle of your talk and give it exactly the same way every time. You can reduce this down to bullet point notes and governing slides.

Dan even scripts his days exactly and uses a timer to force himself to move on from task to task, so he is more productive.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn and Winston Churchill all wrote their speeches word for word so that they could make the most specific impact.

  1. Inspire people to change

The content of your talk and how you make people think is less important than the way you make them feel. If you can stir up enough pain and exaggerate the problems people have and then end with people feeling better about themselves, you will go from good to great.

  1. Advance a moral argument

People are motivated by movements and big ideas. So teach a philosophy and not just a tactical system. HubSpot for instance, says to “create marketing that people love”.

  1. Pick a side

People long for certainty, clarity and conviction, so it’s important to stand for something in black and white.

The two highest paid radio broadcasters for example have clearly defined views that give people permission slips to be a certain way:

  1. Rush Limbaugh – Permission to be right wing
  2. Howard Stern – Permission for males to goof off

Over 50% of their listeners are daily, 3-4 hour a day listeners.

In March 2015, The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News remained at the number one spot on cable news ratings for its 60th consecutive quarter, despite Bill being condemned fiercely by the left wing.

  1. Be willing to offend

There is an enormous benefit in being offensive. You must repel some to attract others deeply.

You must be immune and un-swayed by the criticism of those you offend. For this reason Dan never permits survey forms.

Tons of people hate Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Disney.

Check out this clip of Howard Stern mocking a fan who tries to give him feedback. Howard essentially says “your feedback is irrelevant and the way I became an innovator was by ignoring feedback. Most people don’t like my show but all that matters is that I like it”.

The idea is to select an audience and tell the rest to buzz off.

  1. Make ‘em Laugh

Use humor to counter balance dense content. You don’t have to be a comedian but having something funny every 7 minutes can help. Build up to your jokes as part of the flow of the content however, as opposed to just trying to cram in humor.

  1. Brand your content

Every speaker / authority needs a shtick. Think Steven Levitt’s Freakanomics or Claude Hopkins scientific marketing or John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing or Dan Kennedy’s No B.S. Marketing and Magnetic Marketing series.  Dan’s Magnetic Marketing generated 25 million dollars in ROI.

  1. Don’t be humble – at least in your positioning

Present what you are doing as groundbreaking and never seen before. When the Patriots win the superbowl, their way is the only way to win at least that year. No other way really worked. You must convince people that your way is the best.

  1. Embed a “dog whistle”

Little stories like Ben Carson’s biblical tithing idea to explain his tax plan can draw in certain groups of people. In this case, evangelicals are all that hear that story and respond to it. Other people don’t even know it is there. Tell these embedded “dog whistle” stories over and over again to attract specific audiences.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you have stories that work, repeat them a lot.

  1. Be clear on why you are there

Dan says his applause is money and he prefers it over the easier win of a standing ovation. Just be clear on what is important for your talk to be a success, so your actions support that one main goal.

  1. Address the “farting elephant in the room”

In other words, if you look to young to have experience, then explain why your youth is an asset.

  1. Never seem defensive about selling

Don’t give apologies. Just learn to be natural about making offers.  Speeches are less likely to change human behavior than sending your audience home with an information product to help them deepen their learning.  So be confident your pitch for products is being helpful. You are not forcing people to buy.

  1. Manage speaking for maximum profit

Connect with influencers, other speakers and people that might be at your event in advance to get them motivated to attend.

Before the speech, connect with the host to explain how there may be some complainers. Offer a revenue share of the profits to get a bigger buy in.

Don’t let ANYONE speak at the mic after you announce where and how to buy your products in the back of the room.

Carefully place your products in a good location.

Get the list of the attendees and or the full members of the group and send them a free webinar or direct mail etc. The bigger opportunity for sales is often with those who missed the talk and or those that did not buy on site.

  1. Have a formula

Dan uses a 3 act formula in his talks as follows:

  1. Message (UVP and Call to action)
  2. Market (Target vs. general and niche)
  3. Media (Direct mail, 3 step sequence)

Under each of the 3, have a lead point and 2 secondary points.

At the end, summarize these items, ideally in a signature story so they sink in again.

  1. Inadequacy – Why you don’t have
  2. Awareness – What to do, not how to do (leave them wanting more after you stir up the pain)
  3. Frustration / shame
  4. Desire
  5. Salvation – Here’s what you need and I can sell you that

Primacy and recency – People remember the first and last thing. Plant your seed at the beginning and end.

Have a signature story that has these parts in it.

  1. The bridge to the sale

Give a reason why you are selling them something. Say something like: “Five days from now you will not remember much of what you learned here, so the least ethical thing I can do is to let you leave without some tools to deepen your experience”.

  1. The call to action

The pros don’t leave it up to the buyer.

Tell them how to buy, what to buy and what you want them do. Your presentation should be like a sales letter acted out.

The order of the formula

  1. Bridge
  2. What
  3. Why
  4. Worth – Tell them how they will excel and get organized or compare it to a $4,000 two day seminar that would also incur travel expenses.
  5. Price – a bargain
  6. Guarantee – risk reversal
  7. Instruction such as fill out this form
  8. Scarcity


It’s not by coincidence that the entire Authority Marketing Summit was broken down into only two categories and started with speaking as the entire topic of the first day.

Dan Kennedy MarketingPublic speaking cannot only get you new customers and national level recognition but if you follow the advice of Dan Kennedy and information marketers, you can sell an enormous amount of products to supplement or even be your primary income.

Even though public speaking is often terrifying for many people, it gets easier with preparation and experience.

To dig deeper: In addition to Dan’s work, check out The SCORE and Heroic Public Speaking conferences.  I learned about SCORE from Ken Davis at the Michael Hyatt conference and about Heroic Public Speaking from Michael Port’s event. These public speaking conferences are on my marketing bucket list.

Are you putting enough effort into your public speaking platform?

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