Public Speaking Tips from Jay Mays

Public Speaking Tips from Jay Mays

By: Taylor Gombar 


Soho House’s producing live comedian took center stage at the Colorado American Marketing Association Board Retreat. Jay Mays, Co-Founder of Pitch Lab, draws parallels between sales and comedy to demonstrate public speaking tips for audience engagement. The AMA Board headlined the morning with interactive breakouts that refined presentation delivery, room set-up interaction, and improvised listening. Before you ad—lib your next presentation, take some of Mays’s advice for crowd entertainment in the Board Room or Comedy Works.


Do Not Kill the Butterflies

Jay advises us to reframe public speaking anxiety into excitement. Do not attempt to sit in a space and move beyond the nerves. Understand your control in body language and tone. Walk the space before your speech and maintain ownership of your body language. Best practices suggest a power stance that harnesses enthusiasm and translates prepared excitement to an audience.


Power of the Pause

Begin any presentation by commanding the room with silence. Do not start your introduction in a room of unsettled listeners. Ruckus in a room is not just distracting to the few listeners but also to the speaker. Try soft-spoken tonal ranges that encourage deliberate listening. Tension is created with an extra four-beat silence. Frame important topics with a tension breaking pause. If you are a quick talker, create dramatic pauses to set a cadence for important messages. When you are ready to begin leverage the background introductions delivered by the emcee. Start directly with a power-punching message that follows silence.


Suppress the “Umms…” & “Uhhs…”

Speakers that share authentic messages do not express unintentional “umms…” in their message. Consider responding to a question about your favorite pizza joint. You would respond quickly, “Beau Jo’s down the block.” This response does not warrant a second guess. When you believe the content you deliver you will feel confident. Often when individuals are caught of guard they respond with an “uhh…” for a necessary consideration moment. The best advice is to bring an expert to a sales pitch or client presentation. Believe the message you share to avoid undesired “uhhs….”


Mimic Chris Rock’s Moves

Own the stage we walk on. Chris Rock moves with purpose. Rock leverages mannerism to impress upon major speaking points. If you have three take-aways for the audience consider moving your position to three separate areas of the room. Creating location associations for your audience will improve message recall. Avoid nervous swaying and distracting arm motions. Most importantly, take your hands out of your pockets and faces out from behind computers. Primal instincts prompt suspension and caution when body parts are out of sight. If 93% of communication is non-verbal ensure that you are fully visible to engage audience trust. The stage is merely another opportunity to reinforce your message, so use it!


For more information on how to present everything better schedule a seminar with Jay Mays at or register for an upcoming workshop.


Brinton Taylor