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Effective Presentation Tips with Fred Miller, NO SWEAT Public Speaking!

Edwin Hey, this is Edwin Dearborn, another edition of Growth Driven, where we bring to you insights and experts about various topics in business to help you grow .

And today, I have with me, Fred Miller, and we’re going to be talking about how to improve your presentation skills by giving you some effective presentation tips.

Thanks for joining us today.

Fred Oh, thanks for having me, Edwin.

Edwin Yeah, yeah, so tell me, I know we connected on LinkedIn and I’ve looked at your website, which is, NO SWEAT Public Speaking! I’ll be featuring that throughout the podcast and the youtube video here for your viewers to find out more about you.

How did you get started in public speaking and the world of presentations?

Fred Well, many years ago I used to see all these great speakers like, Zig Ziglar. I guess I’m dating myself now. Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins and I thought, WOW, that’s amazing and I wish I could do that.

And I joined Toastmasters. For those who aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, it’s an international organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills.

I was in Toastmasters for many years. I was in a number of businesses and saw the value of public speaking.

My mantra is “Speaking opportunities, like this, are business, career, and leadership, opportunities.” No one’s ever questioned that statement.

That inability and that fear of public speaking holds so many people back from reaching their potential. so that’s basically it.

Edwin Yeah. Well, I agree with you. I think public speaking is a critical skill in business whether you do it professionally or not.I think it just elevates everything that you do whether you’re a formal public speaker or not. I think it just adds to your repertoire of skills.

At NO SWEAT Public Speaking! how do you engage with businesses and business people and what do you teach them?

Fred Well, I teach them how to . . . I’ll give you my Elevator Speech.

I’m Fred Miller.

I’m a speaker, coach, and a writer.

The title of my first book is: NO SWEAT Public Speaking!

Businesses, individuals, and organizations hire me to improve their networking, public speaking, and presentation skills.

And we’re going to talk about Elevator Speech and I think that’s relevant because we’re talking about zoom calls. You get on a zoom call or anything, somebody says, “Before we get started, let’s go around and tell us who you are and what you do.

An Elevator Speech is a mini presentation and most people mess it up. It’s a Speaking Opportunity.

But you want people to know exactly who you are and what you do because if they don’t, how are they going to refer you and they’re certainly not going to hire you.

So, it’s all relevant to the zoom world now. This is how we’re all meeting.

Edwin Yeah, there’s no question that since the lockdowns and the virus situation we’ve had to go to an online world and I know that everybody’s kind of looking at like, okay, how do I use it effectively?

What you’re saying is, here’s just another public speaking opportunity, but use it effectively and have your Elevator Speech.

I think a lot of people have heard the term, Elevator Speech. How would you define that to, maybe, somebody who’s not in sales and doesn’t know what that means?

Fred Thanks for asking. Well, it’s a mini-infomercial because we all want to know who you are and what you do.

You know, it’s fascinating. I looked you up. You dealing branding. Well, it’s an opportunity to brand yourself.

Edwin Yes.

Fred If you’re working for someone else or if you’re working for yourself.

Let’s talk about zoom for a moment, and it’s all about stories. Presentations are all about stories. Make a point –  tell a story.

My story about zoom, because I’ve been doing a lot of writing and speaking on it. We were in South Africa in March. We got back March 17th and the world we came back to, 300 people on a plane for 16 hours, I was sure I must have had covid. Got off in Atlanta. They took our

Temperature, gave us some papers, said, “Go home and quarantine.”

I didn’t do anything for about a month. I was really bummed out. But then, I started getting on zoom calls and it’s like, “Whoa! This is not the way to give presentations!”

Usually, Edwin, when I’m speaking I’m the only one in the front of the room. I’m looking everyone’s face. Everyone’s looking at me.

In a zoom call, everyone’s looking at everyone else and some people don’t have a clue! I mean,

I’ve looked up more noses than an ear, nose, and throat doctor.

It’s really discouraging and the biggest point I want to make here is that in terms of communication, whether a formal presentation or just talking one-on-one, non-verbal communication, facial expressions, gestures, body movement, surpasses verbal communication.

And when people are looking like this, and they’re looking like this, looks like I’m from Mars right, with my ring light and they’re looking like this, it’s very discouraging.

In fact, one of my tips now is: if you’re a presenter have everyone turn their screen off, and their sound, because, here’s the biggest thing. It’s really important –  We cannot multitask. If I’m looking at your background, I’m looking at you. I’m not listening and watching the speaker.

The best example I can give to prove this point is: if you ever watch cable news, any channel: Fox, CNN, MSNBC: There’s a little ticker tape comes along the bottom of the screen. If you’re reading that ticker tape, you have no idea what they’re talking about. To prove that, as soon as the commercial comes on the ticker tape is gone! Advertisers would never pay big bucks to have you not watch their commercial.

And if you’ve got 24 different screens and I’m looking up: “So what’s that helmet in the picture in the back of that, Edwin? over there and what’s the picture behind his head? Looks like there’s a door. Well, I’m not watching and listening to you.

Other things worth mentioning: Lighting: A lot of people have bright light behind them. You can’t even see the person.

Sound: If you’ve got an older computer and you’re sitting back, it sounds like you’re in a tunnel.

So those, and the other big thing I just mentioned, the background. You know, I see people and they’ll be holding their books up and they’ll have all kinds of junk behind them.

I was watching a medical person on tv once. I think HIPPA would shut her down if they saw the that was on her white board behind her.

The best background you can have is the one nobody notices. If you watch the professional ones on television. they’re usually blurred. Because if they were crystal clear, you’d be trying to pick out that detail. You know, “What building is he standing in front of and what does that sign say?

Does that make sense to you, Edwin?

Edwin Absolutely!

So, okay, so now we’re in this zoom world. You came back from South Africa. Obviously, the world did change in March and so you kind of circled back in terms of reinventing how you were going to help people do presentations. What do you find is the biggest struggle in this brave new world of zoom that most business people are having in their elevating their game and doing presentations.

Fred Well, I think it’s all the distractions. Again, we can’t multi we can’t multitask. If I’m looking at all those windows, you know, kind of like the Brady Bunch or Hollywood Squares. That’s really distracting. You have to turn those off.

The other challenge for a presenter is if you’re showing slides. How many times have you been on a zoom meeting and somebody says, “Can you see my screen? What are you looking at now?

You know, actually this is an interesting time to have this conversation. There’s a new piece of software. It’s mac only right now and it’s going to be PC. It’s called mmhm. That’s a terrible name, but this literally it integrates with zoom and some other platforms for online presentations. It can actually put you in the room. It can be like the same thing. Doing on zoom is just it’s really, really tough.

We’ve got the attention span of a gnat, and if you have all these shiny objects flying over and, “Oh, who just came on? Wait, they’re streaming light. That’s terribly distracting

Now another possibility, let me get this hint: pre-record your presentation and then play it. Then, you can stop it and come in for Q&A and things like that.

There’s some real challenges with zoom. There’s no doubt about it, but I think we have to meet them and that new application is a great step to do that.

Edwin Yeah. Okay, so let’s say we have a small business owner entrepreneur network guy. You know, Whatever.

There’s going to be a lot of people coming out of, you know, the lockdowns all excited to meet, again. I mean we are going to get back to live presentations. I live here in Las Vegas. This town was built on conventions so it’s got to get back to business. What if you were to sit down with a guy going, “Hey, I get to give a presentation and I’ve never really done anything at this scale or at this level importance. What would be three top tips that you would give somebody to help them do a better presentation if they didn’t have those skills.

Fred Thanks for asking, again.

Well, first of all you want to talk to the meeting planner and find out about your audience. What do they expect?

I mean, I’ve been to conventions in Vegas and I’ve seen presenters like, “Why did you invite this guy?” Some of them get big bucks! One guy I’ll never forget he was talking about his family business. All he did was talk about himself. I saw another gal do that, too.

But find out what your audience wants. Gear your presentation to that. Find out what your time limits are.

I like using slides the proper way. The proper way is images because we have three three learning styles. Most of us are visual learners, sixty-five percent of us. Thirty-five percent are auditory learners learn by listening. You mention a podcast. The rest are kinesthetic. I’ve got a friend, Edwin, if he was sitting here he’d fill a ream of paper.

If you can appeal to two of those learning styles, that increases the odds the audience will

GET IT! and GETTING IT! is the bottom line of all communication: verbal, written, or visual.

They may not agree with you, but if they don’t GET IT! you can’t have a conversation going forward.

So you put images on slides that are universally understood. Images, just that image, then make the screen go blank. and then you speak to that slide. That also keeps you from having to look at notes. How many times have you seen a talking head and he’s looking at notes.

Nobody comes to read your presentation in terms of bullet points. Nobody comes to hear somebody speak and read their notes. So you have high quality images.

You know your stuff you want to speak conversationally like we’re doing here.

You want to have a strong opening and a stronger closing. This is a good point, too. There’s something called the law of primacy and recency. It says the best the audience best remembers the first and last things you say and do. So, the last thing I say and do is the first thing the audience remembers.

Edwin Right, Okay, that’s a good point.

I think probably most speakers worry about the middle. You know, the stuff in the middle of the oreo. But really, it’s the edges of the oreo cookie that people hold on to.

Fred I love that analogy! I’ll steal it! But you want to have good content, too. If you don’t have good content. You’ve got to have good content. In that content, three to five main points. Make a point  – tell a story.

I mean, you’re going to remember the story I told you about coming back South Africa; 300 people and they take my temperature. That’s a great story. People remember stories. Nancy Duarte is a presentation guru. She did the slides for Al Gore, in “An Inconvenient Truth.” She says, “Personal stories are the emotional glue that connect your audience to your message.”

Because when I tell a story, everybody’s going back when they first experienced zoom. Like, oh my gosh that’s right! I remember. I got on there. I couldn’t figure out how to software or anything. All kinds of stuff like that. So, it’s all about stories and everyone’s got a back-story.

Everyone has a back-story. You’ve got a story of how you’re in Vegas, or were you born there?

Edwin No, no.

Fred There’s a story about how you got there, right?

Edwin Absolutely! There’s definitely a story of how I got here. People don’t end up in Vegas by accident.

Fred No, and they don’t extradite to other countries or cities. That’s why you’re staying there, right? You have that witness protection program?

Edwin No, no, you know you take a look at Las Vegas. I tell people, “All business roads lead to Las Vegas.” Eventually, if you’re in the business world professionally at a high level sooner or later you’re going to come to this city to do networking a presentation or some type of um convention.

Fred Oh yeah, absolutely!

I was in the coffee service business for many years and we had a national convention at the Hilton there. I remember.

Edwin So I don’t have to go to anybody because they’re all eventually going to come see me, in my town.

Fred Got it!

Edwin So it’s a perfect if you wanted to find the perfect networking town, at least on the west coast. I would say Las Vegas is that city. Moreover, we don’t pay any state income tax.

Fred Oh, nice!

Edwin So, there’s also the financial advantage of coming to Las Vegas.

Fred And the climate, of course!

Edwin When you are working with the businesses, tell me what typically are the types of businesses that reach out to you. There must be an audience that tends to gravitate towards your services. Is it medical? Is it coaches? Is it authors?

Like who comes to you and why?

Fred I think basically it covers everything.

It’s kind of interesting. A lot of individual consulting or coaching. It might be somebody who’s working at a company and a call typically is like this. They say, I’m sick and tired of people who

don’t work as hard as I do, they’re not contributing much to the company, but they’re getting recognition, they’re getting bonus, but sometimes they’re getting promotions because they’re speaking. And they’re not that good, but they’re doing it and I’m not. Can you help me?

This is for anyone. Probably, my best clients are the ones who are already super successful. I remember an attorney called me once and he said, Actually, he was coming about PowerPoint presentations, and he says, “Are you a novice or are you a guru in this?”

I said, “I don’t know. You tell me.”

I gave him a link and he came back and he said, “You know, I’m pretty good at presenting. I’m probably about a nine on a scale of one to ten. I want to be a 13.”

This guy was good. I mean this guy was making a lot of money already but, “Those who know what they don’t know, really know the value of coaching.”

A good coach will listen and ask questions so you hear yourself.

I always tell people, “Professionals have coaches – amateurs don’t.”

The best of the best have a coach.

The guy who thinks he can do it all by himself – that’s crazy!

I mean, I’m rewriting one of my books now. I’ve learned so much since writing NO SWEAT Elevator Speech! I’m rewriting it! I hired a professional editor and it’s awesome!

This book is going to be so much better because she knows so much that I don’t know.

Edwin Yeah, yeah.

Fred You go and you take a bunch of tests and you find out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at and you start working on things you’re not good at.

No, no! That changes. You hire someone to do that and you do what you’re good at because you probably love it.

I got to tell you, the first time she sent back the manuscript, I’m looking and think I’m an idiot. It looks likeI didn’t know punctuation, I didn’t know this, I didn’t know that.

She said, No, no. That’s my job that’s, what you hired me to do. And she’s absolutely right. She’s absolutely right.

But that’s how it is in the world. You hire people who can really do their job well.

But communication is so important. I’ll give you another example. We have a local college that does a survey every year of businesses. One of the things, or the main thing that they find lacking in new hires is – communication.

So, you could be the best electrician, attorney, accountant, auto mechanic, whatever it is, but if you can’t communicate, you’re not going to go anywhere You’ve got to communicate with your fellow workers, with customers, with your boss, with underlings.

That inability to communicate is going to affect your career negatively and the big companies know it. They are putting money and time into training people.

I’ve just been very fortunate, I’m observant of this. I had new furnace put in and these young people came and did the furnace work and checked with me and asked questions. Just outstanding how their communication ability was. They were technicians. They did stuff I could never do.

You know my wife always says that I’m the professional’s best friend. I can turn a minor repair into a major construction project.

But it’s that ability to communicate that makes all the difference.

You know, your business is branding. You’ve got to communicate that brand, right?  They got to know who you are.

Edwin Absolutely!

So, if you’re just joining in or you joined in maybe a little earlier, I’m with Fred Miller, NO SWEAT Public Speaking! You can visit his website at

So, Fred, I think there’s a couple points I want to circle back on.

Number one, I agree you’ve got to surround yourself with other professionals and the example you gave was the editor. Having written a couple of books and working with an editor, if I didn’t have an editor my books would have been a disaster.

Fred Now, did you have that same experience you felt like an idiot?

Edwin Yeah, Yeah !

I’m thoroughly convinced that editing is a skill set that I don’t have, but others do and I just defer that work to others.

Then number two: the person that hired you because they saw other people advance. I think it’s important to note that you can advance your career not just on skill but your ability to communicate effectively. Meaning it’s not the superior artist that’s going to win the big price tag for their art. It’s going to be the artist that somehow finds a niche and communicates

Effectively. The people that are on top 40 radio, are they necessarily the best musicians in the world? Probably not, but they’re at the top because they found a way to whether it’s through shock, or being sexy, or whatever it is they found some way to rise to the top regardless of skill or lack of.

Fred Well, you just told the story that reminds me of when I spoke to a real estate association once, real estate investors, and the president was a really good speaker. I went to him afterwards and I complimented him, “Boy, you’re really good! What’s your day job?”

He said, “Well, I’m an engineer at Boeing.”

We both chuckled because you don’t think about engineers as being dynamic speakers. They’re left-brained people and left-brained people are usually not that way.

He said, I know. I know, left brain – engineer. I am very am very fortunate. I’m an engineer but I also have the ability to communicate. That’s why I’m the team leader.”

He said, Honestly, Fred, every one of the guys that I’m the team leader of, the guys in my team, they can do circles around me with their work. They know far more than I do. But because  can communicate, I’m the leader.”

I’ve told that story. There’s so many people that say, “Oh, yeah. That’s my boss. I know I’ve forgotten more than he knows. But boy, he’s got that gift for gab. He can communicate with people. I wish I had that.

But, you’ve seen that haven’t you?

Edwin Oh, yeah. Absolutely!

So, I think it’s the great takeaway is: that if you want to advance your life, your career you know.

Like I’ll see this with doctors. They’ll go, well, I need more doctor degrees. I need to learn more about doctoring. I need to learn more about nutrition. And I go, “You need to lean on the soft

Skills. Quote – unquote: Communication: your ability to come across effectively. Leadership, how you negotiate. All these soft skills is really the critical skills. Particularly now that we’re on zoom and we’re judging you on how you present.

Fred Oh yeah. No, absolutely!

I mean absolutely, you’ve got it! I mean, that’s it! You’ve got to be able to communicate or your job will suffer.

And it doesn’t matter what that job is. You know, here again, you could be the best HVAC guy, but you’re not going to become a supervisor unless you can communicate. Management knows the value of that. A lot of times those people are the last contact with customers. So the price might have been good. They might have done dynamite work. But the guy’s a jerk. They’re not going to get referred and with all the social media these days, get on Yelp and NextDoor and you know that company will be out of business. I mean bad words spread quicker than good work.

Edwin Yeah, absolutely.

I think even you bring up a good point which is, our communication skills or lack of will show up somehow in the business. Like you said, a bad Yelp review, a bad google review, or if you’re really good as a good google review.

You know good word of mouth just because of your soft skills your ability to communicate.

So, in 2021, here we are in February of 2021, going forward where are you taking your services and kind of tell me what how you’re rolling out your future plans in 2021.

Fred Well, I blog on a regular basis. Every two weeks I blog and the learning is in the doing.

I used to blog once a week. I’ve been doing this since 2011 so I’ve got a lot of stuff.

My focus right now is rewriting that elevator speech book. I’m going to have to rewrite the first book, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking” also because I have learned so much since writing those books. All this zoom stuff, I’ve got to get into there.

I’m looking forward to doing more coaching.

I’m looking forward to doing in-person, I guess eventually, but certainly presenting by zoom, too.

But if you if you really want to learn something, I think this is important to – Teach it. If you go to med school, one of the things they tell you is: “See one – Do one – Teach one!”

So, start I started a meetup, I teach a community college, just a continuing education, three nights. And I never got any teaching courses when I went to college. My wife was a teacher. But when you teach something, you have to master it.

The nice public speaking, it’s a skill you can learn. Let me tell you a story. It’s worth telling. I got a call a number of years ago from an OBGYN. She was moving from New York to St. Louis. Terrible fear of public speaking. I could hear in her voice and she told me. She said, “This is really a challenge because I’m going to have to present to my colleagues. I’m going to be teaching a class. Can you help me?”

I said, “I don’t know, doctor. Can I ask you a few questions?”

She said, “Sure.”

I said, “Well, you’re a doc. You’re an OBGYN, right?”

She says, “Yeah.”

I said, “It means you deliver baby boys and baby girls?”

She goes, “Yes.”

“I said. “Well, have you ever delivered a baby public speaker?”

“No, I haven’t”

“And let me ask you another question. You’re a doctor. You’re an adult. You’ve dealt with death, it’s part of life. Do you know anyone who’s passed away giving a presentation?”

She said, “No, I don’t.”

“So doctor, you just proved something. You know there’s not a public speaking gene that we’re either born or not born with. It’s a relatively safe activity to engage in.

Somewhere between birth and death, it’s a skill we can learn.

You can you can learn those skills.

You know, some people have. You’ve got that for gab. You’re a good interviewer.

People don’t aren’t born with those but they can learn some of those skills and do much better at them which will help them immensely and you’re right, it’s all those soft skills.

You know, there’s a lot of geniuses who are the best of the best and nobody knows it. A friend of mine once said that, “It’s a hungry dog that doesn’t wag its own tail.

Getting up and speaking, being a leader, taking an opportunity to ask questions. Just speaking is huge! You’ll stand out from others because most people won’t do it. It’s still one of the biggest fears people have.

Edwin Totally.

Hey, I’m with Fred Miller.

You can check them out at

Hey, Fred, I want to thank you so much for being on the show. You added a lot of value to our community. You brought some really good points which is we’ve got to get our presentation and communication skills to advance our career.

If you’re going to write a book get a great editor.

I like that what you said earlier which is “Professionals have coaches and amateurs do not.”

So if you’re if you’re looking to get coached on public speaking reach out to Fred.

You’ve seen his website. I’ll put the link below. When the video uploads to youtube, I’ll add the link there, also on the podcast. You can just type ‘Fred Miller’ on the podcast but you can also just type in ‘Fred Miller’ NO SWEAT Public Speaking into LinkedIn and you will find his LinkedIn profile. You can connect with him there on social media.

So, once again, Fred, Thank you for being part of GROWTH DRIVEN and if you’re listening to or watching GROWTH DRIVEN, thank you so much for being part of this community.

I’m making every effort to add value by bringing experts, like Fred, on the show to help you elevate your game so that you can have the prosperity that you want in your life as well as the happiness and self-satisfaction.

Until next time, we’ll see all of you later.


About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an international coach, and the author of the books, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know: Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. We like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver Fantastic Presentations! with – NO SWEAT!


  1. Keynote Speaker

  2. Workshop Facilitator

  3. Breakout Sessions

  4. Personal and Group Public Speaking and Presentation Coaching

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel, Podcast Channel, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.

My books can be purchased on “NO SWEAT Public Speaking” “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

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