10 Tips For A How-To Talk

A how-to talk

Do you need to give a “how to” talk for your company? Follow the advice in this article and it will make the task of giving a demonstrative presentation easier. Use the case study as a guide to preparing your next “how to” talk and impress your listeners.

In another article on giving an informative talk, we looked at the steps for a) preparing a talk, b) starting it, c) presenting three or four main points and subpoints, d) concluding the talk, and e) having a Question & Answer period.

Many of the same principles for giving an informative presentation apply to giving a “how-to” talk. However, these two types of talk are a different. Just as the title implies, giving a “how-to” primarily shows how to do something. It can also can explain how something works.

Keep these 10 pointers in mind when preparing and presenting a “how-to” talk.

1. Choose a catchy title.

Think of a compelling title that will catch the interest of your listeners. Give them a clear sense of what your topic is about to raise their expectations.  For example, a good “command title” tells listeners what to do that will benefit them. A good “question title” poses a provocative question and then offers an answer. For a “how to” talk why not just use a “how to” title. You can’t miss. See the case study that follows.

2. Come up with an engaging introduction.

A good introduction has multiple purposes. It grabs the attention of your audience and makes them want to listen. So state clearly the purpose of your demonstrative talk. Preview what you’re going to cover. In “Structuring a Presentation: Clearly Express Your Ideas,” we mention four or five great ways to introduce your talk, such as telling an anecdote.

3. Use an outline to organize the talk.

You’ll probably want to develop at most three main points. Again, In “Structuring a Presentation: Clearly Express Your Ideas,” we offer useful advice for outlining your presentation. You’ll also want to show examples or illustrations to support your main points. If you can tie in personal experiences to your talk that would make your talk even more memorable.

4. Keep in mind your goal.

The goal in a demonstrative talk is to demonstrate or teach “how to” and not “what is.”  In the case study that follows, notice that we do not describe “what is” confidence but rather show “how to” increase confidence through several practical activities.

5. Learn your talk.

You can either memorize your talk or use note cards. If you decide to use note cards, use only one side of the card. Write legibly and large enough so you can see what you wrote. Number your cards in case they get out of order.

6. Practice your demonstration.

No matter how experienced a speaker you are, it is is wise to practice several times before going live. You may want to practice in front of a mirror so you can see yourself, your facial expressions, and posture. Practice standing up since you’ll probably present that way.

7. Use simple visual aids or handouts.

You want to keep things simple and informal by using a flip chart or poster to help your audience visualize the practical applications of what you’re teaching. For the case study that follows, activity sheets are used to show listeners how to build confidence.

8. Conclude your talk in a memorable way.

In the conclusion, you want to review briefly what you covered, provide a call to action, and leave time for questions.

9. Pay attention to the way you speak.

Variety, timing and volume are important. Be confident and enthusiastic. Vary your pace, but don’t talk too fast or too slow. Be sure to talk loud enough. Speak clearly and don’t mumble your words.

10. Be aware of how you communicate non-verbally when presenting.

In “The Five Most Effective Presentation Tips,” we stressed the importance of looking your best, making eye contact, and using expressive gestures. Even though you may be nervous, appear confident and sincere by using effective body language. This is a good way to show you know what you are talking about.

Case Study

Suppose you are a business coach who specializes in confidence building. You’ve been invited by a local community organization to talk for 20 minutes about how to be more confident.

Here is a planning guide you’ve created for the talk.



  • Have a catchy title: How to Become More Confident in Three Simple Steps


  • Get the attention of listeners: use a famous quote.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”

Perhaps I could start off by saying that there is no way you can succeed in business without a high level of confidence.  There is no question about it.

  • Preview the main points.

The theme of my talk today is three simple ways to become more confident.

First, I’ll illustrate how to build your internal confidence. Second, I’ll show you how to build your external confidence. Finally, I’ll demonstrate how to communicate your confidence to others.


  • Lay out three or four main points.
  • Give some examples to illustrate your main points.
  • Get listeners to participate in the presentation.
  • Use visual aids or handouts to reinforce your ideas.

First of all, to build inner confidence you need to learn how to use your thoughts and feelings positively. Let us see this through an example. I would like you to do the following activity. Use this handout. Write down a situation in which your boss criticized you for taking a wrong decision. Find something that allows you to take a positive approach to this situation. Then share it with us.

Second, use external confident behavior to support and reinforce your inner growth. Use this handout for the second activity. Identify three individuals – from the past or the present or fictional characters in books or films – whom you admire and who express supreme confidence. Write down how they express their confidence.

Finally, practise being confident in professional, social and family situations.


  • Summarize the main points briefly.
  • Leave listeners with a humorous comment, a question or a call to action.
  • Then ask for questions.

What I have tried to show is that is possible to develop and sustain a confidence-building state of mind in three simple steps. What is significant is that we can all be more confident. Someone once said, “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.”

I’d like to finish by reminding everyone that I run a six-week confidence course that is guaranteed to build your confidence. I’d be happy to answer any questions.


The most complicated part of any speech is structure and flow. Sure, you have to have stage presence and you have to deliver on your promise, but if you are not organized you will fall apart. This case study is an attempt to give you a template that you can follow in your own lessons and in your own speeches throughout your career.

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