10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills

Few are immune to the fear of public speaking. Marjorie North offers 10 tips for speakers to calm the nerves and deliverable memorable orations.

Marjorie North

Snakes? Fine. Flying? No problem. Public speaking? Yikes! Just thinking about public speaking—routinely described as one of the greatest (and most common) fears—can make your palms sweat. But there are many ways to tackle this anxiety and learn to deliver a memorable speech.

In part one of this series,  Mastering the Basics of Communication , I shared strategies to improve how you communicate. In part two, How to Communicate More Effectively in the Workplace , I examined how to apply these techniques as you interact with colleagues and supervisors in the workplace. For the third and final part of this series, I’m providing you with public speaking tips that will help reduce your anxiety, dispel myths, and improve your performance.

Here Are My 10 Tips for Public Speaking:

1. nervousness is normal. practice and prepare.

All people feel some physiological reactions like pounding hearts and trembling hands. Do not associate these feelings with the sense that you will perform poorly or make a fool of yourself. Some nerves are good. The adrenaline rush that makes you sweat also makes you more alert and ready to give your best performance.

The best way to overcome anxiety is to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. Take the time to go over your notes several times. Once you have become comfortable with the material, practice—a lot. Videotape yourself, or get a friend to critique your performance.

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2. Know Your Audience. Your Speech Is About Them, Not You.

Before you begin to craft your message, consider who the message is intended for. Learn as much about your listeners as you can. This will help you determine your choice of words, level of information, organization pattern, and motivational statement.

3. Organize Your Material in the Most Effective Manner to Attain Your Purpose.

Create the framework for your speech. Write down the topic, general purpose, specific purpose, central idea, and main points. Make sure to grab the audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds.

4. Watch for Feedback and Adapt to It.

Keep the focus on the audience. Gauge their reactions, adjust your message, and stay flexible. Delivering a canned speech will guarantee that you lose the attention of or confuse even the most devoted listeners.

5. Let Your Personality Come Through.

Be yourself, don’t become a talking head—in any type of communication. You will establish better credibility if your personality shines through, and your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.

6. Use Humor, Tell Stories, and Use Effective Language.

Inject a funny anecdote in your presentation, and you will certainly grab your audience’s attention. Audiences generally like a personal touch in a speech. A story can provide that.

7. Don’t Read Unless You Have to. Work from an Outline.

Reading from a script or slide fractures the interpersonal connection. By maintaining eye contact with the audience, you keep the focus on yourself and your message. A brief outline can serve to jog your memory and keep you on task.

8. Use Your Voice and Hands Effectively. Omit Nervous Gestures.

Nonverbal communication carries most of the message. Good delivery does not call attention to itself, but instead conveys the speaker’s ideas clearly and without distraction.

9. Grab Attention at the Beginning, and Close with a Dynamic End.

Do you enjoy hearing a speech start with “Today I’m going to talk to you about X”? Most people don’t. Instead, use a startling statistic, an interesting anecdote, or concise quotation. Conclude your speech with a summary and a strong statement that your audience is sure to remember.

10. Use Audiovisual Aids Wisely.

Too many can break the direct connection to the audience, so use them sparingly. They should enhance or clarify your content, or capture and maintain your audience’s attention.

Practice Does Not Make Perfect

Good communication is never perfect, and nobody expects you to be perfect. However, putting in the requisite time to prepare will help you deliver a better speech. You may not be able to shake your nerves entirely, but you can learn to minimize them.

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About the Author

North is a consultant for political candidates, physicians, and lawyers, and runs a private practice specializing in public speaking, and executive communication skills. Previously, she was the clinical director in the department of speech and language pathology and audiology at Northeastern University.

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9 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

These nine effective public speaking tips will help you nail your next speech or presentation that you give to a group of people.

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If the idea of delivering a speech to an audience makes your palms sweat, hopefully you can find some reassurance in the fact that you're not the only one who has this reaction. Research indicates that one in five people experience public speaking anxiety, or PSA, making it one of the most common types of anxiety today.

Here's the good news: other studies have found that, with the right strategies in place for fighting your fears, you can still perform well when you have a public speaking engagement or presentation of any sort. What are a few of these strategies?

#1: Breathe

When you're nervous, your heart rate speeds up, you begin to sweat, and—if you're not careful—you can easily work yourself into an anxiety attack. To help control all of these responses, take a few minutes before delivering your speech to close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Calm your body so you can enter the stage (or speaking area) with a certain level of peace and not feeling all frenzied.

#2: Admit Your Nervousness

Even the most seasoned public speaker can feel nervous on stage. The harder you try to conceal this nervousness, the easier it will likely show through. Yet, admitting that speaking makes you anxious can actually help put both you and your audience at ease. You feel a sense of relief because now the information is out there, giving you the ability to address your anxiety and move on.

#3: Use (Minimal) Notes

If public speaking makes you anxious, there can be a tendency to write your speech out word for word so you can look at it if you forget your next statement. However, if you've ever watched a speaker read from their notes the entire time they are on stage, you know that this isn't effective. You will lose your audience. Instead, keep your notes to a minimum, using only one- or two-word prompts for each point you want to make. This will help you keep your place without detracting from your audience.

#4: Become Comfortable with "The Pause"

One of the biggest distractions as an audience member is a speaker who constantly says " uh" or " um ." These fillers are typically used as a way to say something, anything, while you're thinking of your next point. But some of the best speakers know that "the pause" is not something to avoid. A well-timed break in speaking can even be used to help strengthen a point, letting it sit with the audience before moving on to the next topic. Become more comfortable with this pause and you will become a better public speaker.

#5: Be Aware of Your Hand Gestures

Have you ever talked to someone who is all worked up and noticed that their hands are flailing wildly? Some people naturally speak with their hands. When they're nervous, this type of gesturing can ramp up. While some hand movement is a great way to emphasize certain points, it's also important to not let these movements distract from what you're trying to say. So, pay attention to your hands when you're speaking. Slowing down their movement may also help slow down your brain, creating a greater sense of calm.

#6: Move Around Some, But Not Too Much

People often pace when they're nervous. If this is you, you may have a tendency to walk back and forth across the stage when public speaking. Like with hand gestures, a little bit of movement is okay but too much is, well, too much. Don't be afraid to walk away from the podium, but try not to make your audience feel like they're watching a tennis match either.

#7: Incorporate Visual Prompts

If the idea of having all eyes on you makes you nervous, visual prompts are a good way to divert the audience's attention yet still stay on topic. These prompts can be by way of a slide of an image or graph or something more concrete, such as pouring a half glass of water to emphasize the effect of "living with your glass half full." It might feel good to have their attention diverted, even if only for a moment. Plus, it gives you something to do with your hands.

#8: Practice, Practice, Practice…Then Practice Some More

Mark Twain once said, "It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech." So, maybe your fear of public speaking comes from not being fully prepared. One way to overcome this, then, is to practice, practice, and practice some more. Each time you deliver your speech, you will become more comfortable. You'll begin to learn it inside and out, increasing your confidence when delivering it for real.

#9: Record Yourself Speaking

This final public speaking tip is intended to help you recognize how you may come across to an audience. When you record yourself speaking and watch it back, you may notice that you do things that you didn't even realize. This provides the opportunity to correct these issues before being in front of a live audience. Another option is to practice your speech in front of a friend or family member and ask for their honest feedback.

Summing Up Public Speaking Tips

Public speaking is a common fear. The good news, however, is that this fear doesn't have to stop you from delivering an amazing speech. These public speaking tips can help you feel some calmness on stage while also better connecting with your audience…making you a more impactful public speaker.

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10 Tips to Improve Public Speaking Skills

Professionals within all industries often need to present ideas and information. Improved public speaking skills can help employees reduce anxiety, improve productivity, and become more valued members of any team.

[Featured Image]: Man wearing a dark suit, red tie, and white shirt leading a panel. The panel includes three men and one woman.

Regardless of the industry, one of the most critical professional skills is public speaking. Speaking comfortably and effectively to a crowd can facilitate formal board presentations and complex explanations to financial backers. It can also help you present ideas to colleagues and teammates.

Luckily, everyone can learn the skills needed to feel comfortable when tasked with sharing concepts with co-workers or with crowds. This is true even if speaking in front of others makes you feel intimidated or if you’ve never done it before.

By implementing public speaking tips used by the best presenters, you can position yourself to convey important information with confidence. Improve your productivity and become an influential member of any team with good public speaking skills with focused effort. 

1. Know your audience before preparing your speech. 

Employees are more likely to feel comfortable presenting to an audience they know. By knowing the people you are talking to, you’ll better understand how to craft a message in a way that resonates with them. 

Start by identifying their level of understanding of the topic you plan to discuss. This will help you know the amount of background you must cover before going more in-depth. It can also help you choose the right kind of words. If you use industry jargon and acronyms for the general public, you’ll risk confusing them.

Then, as you’re presenting, stay aware of the reactions from your listeners. Adjust accordingly so you can connect with them through your message. 

2. Practice, practice, practice. 

Even the most seasoned public speaker needs to practice to be effective. Giving a mock presentation of your speech in advance will make it easier to determine if you’ve organized the information cohesively and clearly. 

It can help to talk out loud to an imaginary audience or in front of a mirror, but it’s even more effective to practice with the help of a supportive co-worker, friend, or family member as an audience. 

3. Use constructive criticism to your advantage.

Whether you’re practicing or giving a presentation, ask for constructive criticism. This feedback includes specific examples and is offered in a good-natured way. If you know a person has your best interests in mind, you’ll likely be more open to their suggestions to enhance the way you communicate. 

Constructive criticism can be challenging to accept. Take time before responding to reduce being defensive or taking the feedback personally. Integrate the ideas in a way that can help you improve your presentation for the next time. Always thank the person for providing their thoughts.

4. Make it your own. 

Connecting with an audience can happen more easily when you're being yourself. Let your personality shine through as you convey your message. Be authentic and appropriate—include humor when it can facilitate your work rather than detract from it.

If you're using a PowerPoint presentation, make sure the text and the pictures highlight your character and expertise. Include short and focused personal stories to illustrate your points. Add your contact information at the end of the presentation so people can follow up with you afterward. 

5. Connect with your audience with a personal story.

Including personal stories or anecdotes in your professional presentations can effectively communicate your message to your audience. This is demonstrated successfully on the TED Talk stage. 

When TED Speakers take the stage, they often begin with a short, personal tale. This structure helps them personally connect with the audience, share their passion for what they're about to discuss, or explain their expertise. 

To add this kind of personal touch to your presentation, make sure what you share has a direct connection with the topic at hand. If you think someone will not easily understand the point of the personal story, omit it.

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6. Make eye contact and avoid reading from a script.

Practice does more than ensure your presentation is structured and able to provide the messages required. It also helps you feel comfortable enough with your material so you can physically relax on stage. Also, you’re more likely to connect with those around you when you make eye contact. 

Presenters can use other methods to stay on track. If you have paper notes, only use an outline with a few words that can remind you about what you wish to cover. Never rely on verbatim notes. If you're using an audio-visual aid like a PowerPoint presentation, use your slides as the cues instead. 

When you look at the people in the crowd, you’ll also be able to determine whether they understand your main points or if you’ll need to clarify them further.

7. Use the stage to your advantage.

Before the presentation, gather information about where you’ll be physically speaking. Check that your PowerPoint presentation can work with the provided equipment. Make sure you know how the room will be set up. Ask about time constraints, whether people will be eating during your talk, and what kind of microphone you’ll be using.

Then, when you’re on stage, own the space. Walk to different areas to make eye contact with other people in the audience. 

Be aware of your body language. Let your arms hang loosely. Stand with excellent posture, with your back straightened, and smile. Gain control over any nervous gestures—such as thrusting your hands in your pockets or scratching your head—so they don’t distract from your message.

8. Have coping skills in place for when nerves hit.

It’s normal to still find yourself overcome with nerves at some point in your presentation, despite your preparation. When this happens, take a deep breath. No one’s expecting you to be perfect.

Work on gaining perspective in advance of any problems that may arise, and strive for connection with your audience, not perfectionism. Humor can help ease tense moments and remind those listening that you are a human just like them. 

9. Record and evaluate yourself speaking. 

Co-workers and friends can help provide feedback, but you can help yourself, too. When you make a presentation, set up your phone to video record yourself to watch it later. You may be surprised by your nervous habits or awkward phrasing and could even find new ways to improve the readability of your PowerPoint slides.

You can record yourself directly through the software if you're giving the presentation online through a video platform like Zoom. Use this technology to improve your skills to be even more effective next time and avoid ruminating on mistakes. Stay positive.

10. Make a lasting impression with a strong conclusion. 

Just as experts encourage speakers to grab their audience’s attention within the first 30 seconds of their presentations, it’s also wise to create a solid ending to any presentation. This closing can include things like: 

A call to action (CTA) that encourages listeners to take the next step

A memorable quote that inspires or illustrates a point from your presentation

A personal story that demonstrates why this issue is so important to you

A summary of the most important takeaways 

Remember to thank the audience for their time once you conclude your presentation. If there is time, you can invite questions and answer them from the stage. If organizers have limited your time, offer to answer questions afterward. 

The importance of developing your public speaking skills

Public speaking skills are helpful for growth in various facets of life. Beyond setting a foundation for advancement in your career, the ability to speak comfortably and effectively in public will help you:

Strengthen team-building and collaboration 

Share your ideas and offer solutions to work-related problems

Earn esteem with employers and co-workers alike

Create connections that can lead to new professional opportunities

Become a better listener to provide the same respect you wish for yourself during presentations

The benefits of these skills transfer easily to other areas of life. Improve your relationships along with your professional success through clear and effective communication. 

It can take time to improve public speaking skills. The key to confidence is a willingness to practice public speaking tips from the experts, such as those that follow and embrace the temporary feeling of discomfort that comes with developing any new skill.

Next steps for success 

Apply these public speaking tips to improve your ability to confidently execute a presentation. Further refine your skills by practicing and learning from those who can demonstrate their success in public speaking . 

Take public speaking classes. 

Online public speaking courses provide opportunities to learn ways to improve communication skills from the comfort of your home or office. Take the Introduction to Public Speaking course or Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization offered by the University of Washington on Coursera to gain confidence as you learn presentation and public speaking skills.

Join a public speaking support group.

Toastmasters International , a nonprofit organization with chapters throughout the world, has a mission of teaching people public speaking and leadership skills. Members practice giving speeches and overcoming shyness and anxiety with regular online and in-person meetings.

Attend public speaking events.

If your town or city offers events with speakers on various topics, consider these opportunities to learn. When watching others give presentations, use a critical eye to learn what works and what doesn’t. Ask yourself why you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy the lecture beyond the topic at hand. 

Watch videos of effective public speaking.

Finally, you can enjoy the same learning experience of in-person lectures by watching videos of influential public speakers. TED Talks are an online collection of presentations on a wide range of topics, including science, entertainment, and business. Watch as many as you can and use the best speakers as mentors to improve your confidence and success in public speaking.



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20+ Effective Public Speaking Skills & Techniques to Master

Laura Spencer

You may think effective public speakers are born that way. You'd be wrong! Public speaking skills can be learned.

Principles of Public Speaking

Most effective public speakers have worked hard to master their craft. That includes effective speaking skills and good public speaking techniques. They may spend hours practicing, working with a coach, or taking speech courses.

The good news is that you can improve your public speaking skills and become an effective speaker. Public speaking techniques can dramatically improve your results. In this tutorial, we've listed over 20 different public speaking techniques that can help you learn how to become an effective speaker.

What Is Public Speaking?

Public speaking occurs when you give a speech before a live audience. It differs from other types of speaking, such as videos, which may be recorded. It's also different from online presentations, which are created and then uploaded to the Internet.

Public speaking gives you many opportunities. That includes improving your confidence level and giving you the opportunity to champion a cause you care about. Plus, having effective public speaking skills can help you find a job. Many jobs, such as an instructor or sales professional, require you to speak in public.

Even when a job doesn't include public speaking in the job description, employers still value  the skill. In one survey, 600 employers said that good communication skills were twice as important as managerial skills . 

Graphic public speaking skills

At this point you may be asking "what makes a good public speaker?" The answer might seem easy: A good public speaker makes use of effective public speaking techniques. What are those effective public speaking techniques? That's what we're going to talk about in the rest of this tutorial.

Before we dive into our discussion of effective public speaking techniques , download our eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations .  It's available for FREE with the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Learn how to write, design, and deliver the perfect presentation. 

Complete Guide to Presentations

Now, let's look at how you can deliver an awesome presentation by using effective speaking techniques.

20+ Effective Public Speaking Techniques

You can learn to become a more effective speaker by using the right techniques and practicing your public speaking skills. Here are some techniques to follow:

1. Fit the Message to the Audience

Guidelines for effective public speaking often include tips that apply to any situation. But sometimes, it pays to tailor your delivery based on your audience. Matching subject matter and delivery style helps you make the best possible impression. When you know you’re speaking successfully, you’re able to present with more confidence.

Before you speak, plan ahead by considering your target audience. If you’re presenting a research paper to academics, you can plan on a detail-heavy speech. But if you’re introducing a new idea to a casually-interested audience, it’s better to take a broader focus.

Audience guidelines for effective public speaking

Knowledge level is also an important element. Imagine you’re speaking about astronomy to a group of young children. Your message can and should be much different than if you’re addressing a room full of seasoned scientists.

In essence, use your public speaking skills to connect with the audience in front of you. All it takes is a bit of advanced planning. You’ll be on your way to giving an inspiring speech that all can enjoy. 

Learn more about audience analysis as part of tips for effective public speaking below:

how to make public speaking effective

2. Be Interactive!

Tips for effective public speaking help you give the best speech possible. Remember what you’re trying to do. You’re informing, inspiring, and engaging your audience. And talking at them isn’t enough. The best public speakers build interactive elements into their speeches. You can too.

Interactivity is one of the key public speaking skills. It can take many forms. It can be as simple as a quick, personal greeting at the start of your speech. Or you can even play interactive games like a trivia quiz. 

This offers many benefits. It keeps audiences alert and engaged. It helps you gauge how well they're following your message. And it takes the heat off of you by adding engagement from others. Sometimes, after all, a break from talking is welcome. It helps you stay focused and on pace.

If you're presenting your speech with PowerPoint, check out our interactive quiz tutorial:

how to make public speaking effective

3. Care About Your Topic

Passion goes a long way when it comes to being an effective speaker. The audience can tell if you're apathetic. If you don't care, they won't care either. Even worse, you can come across as a fake.

But if you sincerely care about your topic the audience will pick up on that too. They'll view you as being more authentic and believable. They'll listen more closely to discover why your subject is so important to you. And they're more likely to forgive any minor mistakes you might make.

4. Remember Your Speaking Goal

We've all probably listened to at least one speaker who seemed to go on and on forever about nothing in particular. One reason why this happens is because the speech isn't focused enough. The speaker is trying to cover too much and ends up boring their listeners.

Speech public speaking skills

Early in the process of developing your speech, identify the reason why you're speaking. Make it a point to stick to this goal during your presentation. Don't get sidetracked or off-topic.

5. Support Your Main Points

Every point you make in your speech needs to be supported with either an example, an illustration, or facts. When you're supporting a point, it's best to be as specific as you can be.

For example, in a speech about the importance of clean water this statement is too vague:

 "Many people don't have clean water."

Stating this statistic from the U.S. Center for Disease Control is a more effective way to support your point:

"Worldwide, 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source."

6. Tell a Story

People love a good story. So, if you want to be a more effective speaker, tell a story.

Storytelling is a great way to make your material more engaging and to relate to your audience. Make sure your story is relatable and relevant.

If you're speaking is about your business, here are some examples of stories you may be able to tell:

Of course, there are many other types of stories you could tell depending on the type of speaking you're doing.

7. Use a Professional Template

While we're talking about presentation tools, let's also talk about presentation design. Your presentation design affects how your audience perceives you.

Even if you deliver your speech perfectly, your audience might still judge you if your slides are sloppy. The presentation visuals are just as important as your speaking performance.

Elements public speaking skills

Of course, you could use a standard template (the same ones that everyone uses) or design your own template (costly and time-consuming). But a better plan is to use a professionally designed presentation template that you can easily customize.

Guidelines for efffective public speaking

The ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">presentation templates from Envato Elements and ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">GraphicRiver are easy-to-use and professional. And there are hundreds to choose from--so you're bound to find one that meets your needs.

8. Use Presentation Tools Wisely

Slide presentations often get a reputation for being dull. That's because many speakers are unaware of what their presentation tools can do and don't make the best use of all the features. To better engage your audience, learn how to use the more advanced features of your tool.

As an example, here are just a few ways you can use PowerPoint and Google Slides (with links to related tutorials):

And these features are just the tip of the iceberg. To really elevate your public speaking techniques, it helps to know what your software can do. Our tutorial series on Google Slides  and PowerPoint  are a good place to start. 

9. Practice Your Speech

One of the most important public speaking techniques is often one of the most overlooked--practice. If you expect that you'll be an effective speaker without practicing your speech, you'd be wrong. One of the quickest ways to avoid public speaking failure is to try and give a speech you don't really know and haven't practiced.

Rehearsal tips for effective public speaking

The old saying, "practice makes perfect," really is true when it comes to developing effective speaking skills. The more you practice your speech, the more familiar it'll be to you and the more comfortable you'll be giving it. Plus, practicing your speech is the only way to discover how long the speech will take and where you need to pause.

10. Work With a Coach (optional)

If you're really serious about developing effective speaking skills, a speaking coach or teacher can take you to the next level. A coach or teacher can teach you the principles of public speaking and point out mistakes in your public speaking techniques. They give you awareness of tendencies you would otherwise miss.

Worried about cost? You may be able to find reasonably priced public speaking help through one of the following organizations:    

There may even be more resources close to you.

It's normal to be nervous about public speaking. One study from The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that as many as 77% of us have a fear of public speaking . It's so common there's an actual technical term for fear of public speaking--glossophobia.

I'm not telling you this to make you more anxious, but rather to let you know that having some anxiety before giving a speech is perfectly normal. Still, you should try to relax if you can. You'll be more comfortable, and the audience will relate to you better too.

If there's something that normally calms you down in stressful situations, try using it right before you're due to speak. Popular calming techniques include:

The following tutorials can also help you fight your fear of public speaking:

how to make public speaking effective

12. Don't Worry About Mistakes

One of the reasons so many of us fear public speaking is because we're worried that we'll make a mistake and embarrass ourselves in front of everyone. If this is your fear, let it go. Most audiences will understand if you make a mistake. And if it's a small mistake, the audience may not even notice it.

Of course, practice can dramatically reduce the likelihood of you making a mistake. The more you practice the better you'll know your speech--and mistakes will be less likely.

So, what should you do if you do happen to make a mistake? If it's a minor mistake, don't stop or apologize for your mistake as that only calls attention to it. Just continue on. If you make a big mistake, try using humor to diffuse the situation and then continue your speech. Your listeners will be impressed with how gracefully you handled things.

13. Study the Habits of Others

One of the best ways to learn effective public speaking skills is to study the habits of others. There's no reason to learn the art (and science) of public speaking all by yourself.

Consider your favorite orators, lecturers, and presenters. Think about why they're your favorites. Usually, it's their delivery, their stage presence, and their sense of style. If you can't watch them in person, it's a great idea to watch videos of them at work.

It's important to note that tips for effective public speaking vary from person to person. Don't try copying someone else's style. But learn from their habits and incorporate the best into your own method of public speaking. By doing so, you can inspire others in the same ways that have inspired you.

how to make public speaking effective

14. Pace Yourself

When it comes to public speaking, a common newbie error is to speak too quickly. This is usually caused by a combination of nerves and not realizing how fast you're actually speaking. But talking too fast makes it harder for your listeners to understand what you're saying.

Effective public speakers know to pace themselves. They'll speak at a natural pace and work short, natural pauses into their speech.

It also helps if you remember to breathe during your speech. A surprising number of people hold their breath without realizing it when they're nervous (I'm one of them).  But holding your breath will only increase your anxiety. So, remember to breathe deeply during the breaks in your speech. If your speech is a long one, taking a sip of water during a break can also help.

15. Add Visual Aids

Visual aids can serve as a powerful illustration of your speech. Humans use their sight more than any other sense. So, if you can make your point by showing it to your listeners rather than describing it, they're more likely to remember it.

Infographic PowerPoint tips for effective public speaking

Be careful though. To be effective, your visual aid must be of high-quality and easily visible to all members of your audience. Avoid incorporating sloppy graphics into a slide presentation. Likewise, don't hold up a visual aid that's physically too small for those listening to see.

Discover ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">professional PowerPoint templates on Envato Elements or ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">GraphicRiver : 

how to make public speaking effective

16. Avoid Awkward Fillers

"Um," "uh," "like."

We all slip these filler words into our conversations without even realizing it. But overuse of these words during a professional speech can make you sound less than confident. If you can, break the habit of using these words to become a better public speaker.

Practice can help you cut these words from your speech patterns, but you may be so used to using them that it's hard to notice when you're doing it. This is where a speech coach, teacher, or friend would come in handy. They could listen for these words and help you break the habit of using them.

17. Dress Comfortably, But Professionally

What's the right outfit to wear if you want to be an effective public speaker?

Well, there's no one answer. How you dress depends on who your listeners will be. But the general principle is that you want to dress professionally to make a good impression. Make sure to observe good grooming and hygiene rules too.

Professional dress guidelines for effective public speaking

Many experts feel you should dress according to how your audience dresses. If the audience is dressed formally, you don't want to show up in shorts and a tee shirt. Likewise, if the audience is wearing shorts and a tee shirt, don't dress formally.

18. Use Gestures (But Don't Overdo)

Natural movement during a speech is a sign of an effective public speaker. Hand gestures and moving a few steps across the stage can be good public speaking techniques. Just make sure they're natural, purposeful, and not overdone.

Movement can make you appear more comfortable and help your audience relate to you. You've probably seen the stiff speaker who delivers their speech while standing stock still. Which would you rather listen to:

19. Allow a Q&A

Question and answer sessions (Q&A) are one of the most underused public speaking techniques. Many speakers just say what they're going to say and then sit down. What a waste!

The beauty of Q&A is that you get to hear your listeners' concerns directly and address them publicly, further strengthening your case.

Audience QA tips for effective public speaking

You can prepare for a Q&A session by creating your own list of questions and possible objections that audience members may have (with answers). Study the list carefully so that you're familiar with it.

If someone does bring up a point that you hadn't thought of, don't panic. They don't expect you to know everything. It's perfectly acceptable to take their contact information and tell them that you'll get back to them once you've got the answer.

20. Build in Silence to Stay on Track

Guidelines for effective public speaking often leave out a key ingredient: silence. That's right. You don't have to fill every second of your time with spoken words. It's critical to add pauses. This is one of those public speaking skills that doesn't get the credit it deserves.

Silence has many benefits in public speaking:

21. Recap at the End

You've delivered your message to an engaged audience. You've presented with confidence and style, and delivered a clear, coherent message. But you may still wonder: "are they really going to remember what I said?"

This is a key thing to consider as you close out your speech. Last - but not least - on our list of public speaking skills is the recap at the end. You should wrap up your speech by quickly recapping your key points. 

This may take only a few moments. Remember, you're not repeating yourself word for word. You're revisiting your main ideas in summary form. This helps you close on a high note. Your audience will once again hear the details that you find most important. This way, they can carry those ideas with them, long after you're finished speaking. 

how to make public speaking effective

More Templates to Supplement Your Public Speaking Skills

This article has given you more guidelines for effective public speaking. The best resource you can use is pre-built presentation templates. Those have the blueprint for great slides that make creating a presentation as easy as filling in placeholders.

On Envato Tuts+, we're always in search of the best templates. These go hand-in-hand with our tips for effective public speaking. Check them out below, and you're sure to find great designs for you.

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More Resources on Effective Public Speaking

If you're ready to learn more about developing effective speaking skills, we've got many tutorials on public speaking that can help:

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Download Our Free PDF eBook on Making Great Presentations

We've got the perfect complement to this tutorial, that'll help you take your presentation know-how further. Learn how to write, design, and deliver great presentations. 

Download  The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations for FREE with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Get your ideas formed into a powerful presentation that'll move your audience. 

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You Just Learned Top Tips For Effective Public Speaking

Editorial Note : This content was originally published in 2018. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant. This post has been updated with contributions from Andrew Childress .

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Effective Public Speaking: Tips & Tricks to Succeed at Your Next Event

Meg Prater

Published: September 01, 2017

Public Speaking Tips and Tricks

When you think of impressive public speakers like Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, or Gary Vaynerchuk, one thing sticks out: Their passion for their topic.

how to make public speaking effective

That excitement is infectious and inspiring. It’s also the best way to attract and maintain audience attention.

Whether you want to expand your public speaking resume, or just get better at presenting in front of clients, these tips can help you meet your goals.

But remember, even if you master all 17, the most important thing you can do is to get fired up about your topic. Find an angle that excites you, and the rest will come.

17 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

1) define your end goal.

The first thing to do when preparing a speech is to define your end goal. What do you want the audience to do after they leave the room? What information should they walk away with?

Once you’ve defined what you want your audience to take away, build your talking points around supporting that goal. This lends itself to a more focused and actionable speech that provides real value to your audience.

For example, let’s say a big conference has invited you to speak about how small businesses can grow their sales organizations. Start by nailing down your objective. If it’s getting the audience to hire you as a sales consultant, build your speaking topic around five things preventing small sales organizations from scaling.

2) Be a Giver, Not a Taker

Renowned speaker Simon Sinek says , “We are highly social animals. Even at a distance onstage, we can tell if you’re a giver or a taker, and people are more likely to trust a giver -- a speaker that gives them value, that teaches them something new, that inspires them -- than a taker.”

Once you’ve defined your end goal, build a presentation that offers real value to your audience, regardless of whether they pursue your product or service.

If you immediately and doggedly pitch your consulting service throughout your presentation, you’ll probably lose your audience’s trust, and the remainder of your presentation will lose its credibility.

Offer tips and strategies that will be fresh, useful, and insightful for your audience. And make any business pitches subtle and at the end of your presentation.

3) Make Slides an Aid, Not a Crutch

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends using keywords, instead of sentences or paragraphs on your slides. This helps your audience focus on your message. The ASHA also suggest bulleting body copy, using punctuation sparingly, and never using more than eight words per line or eight lines per slide.

Another rule of thumb is to make your font size double the average age of your audience. This means the font for most of your presentations will be between 60 and 80 points.

When it comes to the age-old question “Prezi or PowerPoint?”,  a recent Harvard study suggests there is a right answer. Research shows that Prezi’s “focus on meaningful movement” makes it a more effective presentation medium than PowerPoint. So next time you want to impress your audience, give Prezi a try.

4) Practice (But Really, Practice)

Are you already rolling your eyes and skimming past this section? I don’t blame you. But so often, public speakers are under-prepared. Maybe your assistant created your slides and you’ve just scrolled through them a few times. Or maybe you’ve rehearsed your presentation by yourself, but haven’t run it by anyone else.

Make sure you’re practicing your presentation in front of several groups of people. Present to coworkers or to someone who represents your target audience. Ask for honest, critical feedback on the good, the bad, and the ugly of your presentation.

It’s also smart to record yourself during one of your practice runs, so that you can review areas that need work.

5) Eat Well & Burn Cortisol

Eating a protein-packed snack before a public speaking engagement boosts your energy, focus, and mood. But what if there were a way to decrease stress too?

Well, there is. Cortisol, also known as the "stress hormone," can interfere with your memory and limit your ability to process complex information. This can make it difficult to read your audience and react in the moment.

To decrease your cortisol levels, exercise one to three hours before you speak. You’ll feel less stressed and your audience will benefit from your focus.

6) Meet Audience Members First

It’s always a good idea to meet a few of your audience members before taking the stage.

This is a great way to calm pre-presentation jitters, not to mention network and recruit a few last-minute audience members into your meeting or session. Bonus points if you find a way to incorporate those conversations into your speech.

To illustrate, suppose you talked with Laura from XYZ Sales at the coffee bar this morning. If Laura shared that sales recruitment is a big roadblock to scaling their sales team, include this anecdote in your presentation, along with tips on how you would approach the situation.

7) Give Yourself Time to Acclimate

Many speakers begin talking immediately after being introduced or walking onstage. Instead, try approaching the stage in silence. This gives you time to gather your thoughts, take a deep breath, and get used to being in front of the audience.

It gives your audience the chance to get used to you as well. If they’re checking email or answering some last-minute texts, it provides a few buffer moments so they can wrap up. This pause also sets the tone for the rest of your speech, which should be evenly paced, effective, and purposeful.

8) Don’t Open with an Excuse

How many times have you heard a speaker start by saying, “Sorry, I didn’t have much time to prepare,” or “My flight was delayed last night, so I’m a little tired”?

Your audience doesn’t care. Announcing to them that you haven’t prepared or are tired from a long flight won’t change the way your presentation is received or remembered.

Don’t begin your presentation with an excuse. That makes the time about you, when it should be about your audience and how you can provide value to them.

9) Be Conversational

The first 30 seconds of a speaker’s presentation tell you almost everything you need to know about what’s next. That means you probably haven’t made it past introducing yourself before you’ve either lost or gained the attention of your audience.

So how do you make the most of that first few seconds? First, be conversational. Use inflection in your voice and engage in natural, friendly body language. Instead of staying glued to your podium, walk casually back and forth in front of your audience. Gesture with your hands and make eye contact with individual people in front of you.

Second, don’t memorize your content. You should understand the concepts you’re communicating and know the overall structure of your presentation, but don’t recite your speech word for word. You’ll seem rehearsed and less engaging.

10) Rejoice in the First Mistake

I once had an instructor who would openly rejoice when she made her first mistake in front of a large class. She said it took the pressure off for the remainder of her class, so she could simply relax and teach.

While I wouldn’t recommend calling out the first mistake you make in front of your audience -- they likely didn’t even notice -- it is something you can quickly take note of internally.

Don’t beat yourself up about it, feel embarrassed, or let it derail your composure. Simply acknowledge your first mistake and view it as permission to relax and move on with your presentation.

11) Tell Stories & Make It Personal

Think your audience doesn’t care about personal stories? Let me put it this way. They probably care more about the story you just told than the pie chart on the screen behind you.

Your audience is more likely to remember and share the stories you tell than the stats and figures you pack your slides with. Make your presentation personal, and remind them that you’re human.

Check out a few top TED Talks to learn how to flex your storytelling muscles. TED Talks are driven by powerful storytelling -- which is one of the reasons they’re so memorable. Stories also give your audience more context around your topic, heightening their ability to relate and find value in what you have to say. Basically, when in doubt, tell a story.

12) Channel Nervous Energy into Positive Energy

If you’re not excited about your presentation, why would your audience be? One way to channel excitement into your public speaking is to transform nervous energy into positive energy.

Simon Sinek has another great insight here. After watching reporters interview Olympic athletes, he noticed many of the athletes had similar responses when asked if they were nervous before competing. They answered, “No, I was excited.”

Sinek points out that they translated the body’s signals of anxiety or stress -- sweaty palms, neck tension, fast heartbeat -- as excitement. When Sinek’s onstage and notices these same signs, he says out loud to himself, “I’m not nervous, I’m excited!”

13) Speak Slowly & Pause Often

Speaking slowly is hard to do -- especially when you’re giving a presentation. But not only does a slower speed make it easier for your audience to understand, it also makes you seem more composed and thoughtful. Your pacing should feel a little unnatural. Only then have you probably found the right cadence.

Another way to control the pace of your presentation is to routinely pause for between three and five seconds. This length of pause remains conversational, while allowing you to take a breath and refocus before moving forward. As a bonus, it’s just long enough to get people to look up from their smartphones to see why you’ve stopped.

14) Repeat Audience Questions

Whether you’re working a large room or a three-person meeting, try to repeat audience questions. In large settings, it gives everyone a chance to hear what was asked, keeping them engaged with and invested in your answer.

In smaller settings, repeating audience questions gives you an extra few moments to gather your thoughts. More importantly, it ensures that you’ve understood what the question is and are actively listening to the needs of your audience members.

15) Reinforce Key Points

Repeating key points at multiple times throughout your presentation helps your audience retain what’s most important.

A simple technique for doing so? Mention each key point three times. Introduce your main points in the agenda you share at the beginning, speak to each point clearly during your presentation, and close by reviewing and restating your main points.

16) Use Video & GIFs Sparingly

I know, I know -- this one is unpopular. GIFs and video can be a great way to break up your presentation and re-engage a drifting audience. But they can also distract listeners from the important points you’re making.

When appropriate, throw in a GIF or video. But make sure it aids in your storytelling, instead of distracting from it. A truly engaging public speaker will be able to present impactfully without gimmicks.

If you’re tempted to add a third GIF to your presentation, take a harder look at the quality of content you’re preparing. Could you illustrate that point better with a thoughtful anecdote or past experience?

17) Always End Early & Say Thanks

Whether your audience gave you five minutes of their attention or an hour, end early and say, “Thank you.” Time is a precious commodity, and they chose to spend a significant portion of it with you.

Be respectful of that time and always end early -- especially if you’re expecting a longer Q&A period. If people have questions, you want to make the most of every second before you lose them to the next session or meeting.

Public speaking is an art, and one that can take years to perfect. By following these tips for effective public speaking, you’ll start to notice benefits immediately. Want to continue your public speaking education? I mentioned Simon Sinek several times during this presentation. Check out his Skillshare class “ Presentation Essentials: How to Share Ideas That Inspire Action ” for more.

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8 tip to improve your public speaking skills

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The importance of public speaking skills

How to improve public speaking skills — 4 factors to keep in mind, 8 tips for public speaking, know how to improve public speaking skills and master your fears.

Some people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying.

I know that sounds extreme, but it makes sense when you think about it. 

Our ancestors needed one another to survive. Social acceptance or rejection meant the difference between life and death.

And if there’s one situation where you run the risk of mass rejection, it’s public speaking.

No wonder many of us find it terrifying. It’s our survival instinct kicking in.

Yet, public speaking is an essential skill in today’s labor market.

If you want to know how to improve your public speaking skills, keep reading for tips and strategies that will help make you a better public speaker.

Strong spoken communication skills are essential for a successful career or business.

According to a study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the majority of executives and hiring managers prioritize strong oral communication skills .

Most jobs require some degree of public speaking, whether it’s giving a presentation to your team or speaking at a conference.

But the survey respondents reported that less than half of college graduates are satisfactory in this area.


Public speaking requires you to present your ideas clearly. At the same time, you must project an image of yourself that inspires empathy in your audience.

But many of us experience public speaking anxiety. It can hinder your ability to deliver your message and engage your audience. 

Public speaking isn’t only important at work. Fear of public speaking can also affect your personal life. It may create misunderstandings with family or friends or prevent you from taking part in activities. 

For example, you might avoid speaking about your ideas or plans or giving a speech at a wedding or social event.

The inability to communicate your ideas results in feeling misunderstood. This can lead to frustration, loneliness , and even social anxiety.

But if you have stage fright, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Few people are born with a natural talent for public speaking. 

This is good news, as it means it’s a skill that you can learn. So let’s dive into how to become a great public speaker.

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Developing your public speaking skills has many benefits in a work environment. It will also increase your confidence.

Even if you’re an introvert or suffer from chronic anxiety , overcoming your fear and learning to be a great public speaker is possible.

Here are four factors that influence your ability to communicate effectively .


1. Voice control

Your voice is the most basic communication tool you possess. Learning to use it properly is key for improving your public speaking.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a useful voice control technique. It can give your voice greater power and clarity and prevent the shortness of breath that anxiety causes.

To do this technique, relax your belly and let it expand as you breathe. Extend your inhalations and exhalations to a count of four each.

Practicing this type of breathing without speaking will help you prepare to use it while speaking. 

It also helps calm your nerves. 

During your public speaking event, use diaphragmatic breathing to control the three main aspects of your voice:

2. Body language

Your body language is the combination of your gestures, facial expressions, and movements. 

It’s an integral part of how we communicate. It helps your audience better understand the nuances of your message.

If your body language contrasts with what you want to transmit or seems incoherent, your speech will be confusing.

Once you confuse people, you lose them.

Use the following tips to improve your body language and engage your audience:

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3. Delivery

Delivery is the way you speak. Good delivery is essential for your audience to understand your speech.

Follow these tips to improve your delivery:

4. Audience relations

If you want your audience to listen to you, you need to engage them from the beginning.

The following are ways to connect with your audience:

Public speaking is a skill that anyone can develop. 

These tips for public speaking will help you overcome your fear and show up with confidence at your next public speaking engagement.


Giving a great speech or presentation starts with planning. 

Identify the core message you want to transmit. Look for interesting facts and statistics to back up your point. Prepare for possible questions that might come up.

Preparing also includes logistical planning. Visit the event location beforehand to get familiar with the environment. 

Use this opportunity to identify any technical requirements, such as a microphone or projector.

Consider using a visual aid, such as a PowerPoint presentation. But if it’s going to give you more anxiety and stress worrying about clicking through the slides, then don’t. There is no hard and fast rule on visuals.

2. Practice

Practice in front of the mirror or record yourself speaking, then watch it back.

Analyze your speed, tone, body language, and facial expression to identify areas for improvement.

Look for public speaking opportunities — whether it’s giving a presentation at work or joining a local Toastmasters club .

Practice your speech as many times as possible before your public speaking engagement. 

You can do this in front of the mirror, record yourself, or practice in front of friends and family. 

3. Have a positive mindset

Everyone gets nervous before a performance. In fact, research shows that a healthy amount of nervousness enhances performance .

But don’t let your nerves suck you into a spiral of negative thoughts. Instead, embrace them and use them as performance rocket fuel.

To cultivate a positive mindset, visualize yourself giving the best speech of your life. Top performers use visualization to improve their results.

4. Involve your audience

Not only does this grab their attention, but it’s also a way to take the spotlight off of you.

Sharing the starring role with your audience members will help you establish a connection with them and feel less nervous.

5. Start with a story

Humans are wired to pay attention to stories. It activates the same parts of our brain that would activate if we experienced the events first-hand. 

We all respond to stories in this way. There is no difference across cultures. This means you can harness the power of storytelling to establish a connection with anyone.

When you start your speech, you only have one minute to make a good impression on your audience. 

A story, anecdote, or question can pique their curiosity and make them want to keep listening.

6. Dress for the occasion

When you look good, you feel good. And feeling good is the key to giving the best possible performance.

Think about it. Do you feel more confident in your favorite suit or dress or in your pajamas?

Dress to impress, but make sure you feel comfortable. Don’t wear anything that’s not your usual style. 

Avoid wearing anything that you will constantly have to adjust as it will be uncomfortable and distracting.

7. Be yourself

It can be tempting to emulate a strong public speaker you admire. But this is a mistake. 

We are all unique, and although you can never be someone else, you are great at being you. 

Perhaps you wish you were funnier, but you’re not a natural comedian. That’s okay. Don’t start cracking jokes as soon as you get on stage.

Instead, embrace your other quirks — we all have them — and let them shine through in your speech. You never know how many audience members might resonate with you.

8. Ask for feedback

Ask a trusted friend or colleague to watch your presentation with a critical eye and give you feedback. (You can also film or record yourself.)

Ask them to be as specific as possible. Tell them to analyze what you do well, as well as what can be improved.

You probably already have some perceived strengths and weaknesses regarding your presentation skills. Ask your feedback buddy to look out for those specifically.

Even if you’re an introvert or suffer from social anxiety, it’s possible to overcome your fear of public speaking.

It will also boost your confidence, and you may even discover you enjoy it.

But if you still need more information on how to improve public speaking, consider taking a public speaking course. Alternatively, you could engage a coach to help you improve your confidence and become a better public speaker .

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17 Public Speaking Tips That’ll Help You Crush Your Next Presentation

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It’s no easy feat to stand up and talk in front of people—whether it’s five or 50 or 500. In fact, surveys have found that public speaking has long been one of the things Americans fear most.

Unfortunately, in many professions, some amount of public speaking is necessary. It might be that you need to present in a small meeting, give an update to the entire company, or present at a conference or other event. No matter what it is or how daunting you find it, there are steps you can take to prepare and improve your skills.

Before You Even Get Up There

So much of what goes into public speaking happens way before you step up to the front of the room. Preparation and practice are key. Here’s what you can do in advance to make the actual speaking part as smooth as possible.

1. Understand the Expectations and Learn the Details

“Gather all of the information regarding location, technical setup, time you’ll be speaking, dress, topics to include/avoid, type of presentation, etc.,” says Tara Goodfellow , a Muse career coach and owner of Athena Consultants . Having all of this information ahead of time will help you prepare a presentation that fits the occasion and resonates with your audience.

It’ll also help you avoid technical or logistical snafus that can add unnecessary stress, Goodfellow says: “You don’t want any surprises as in realizing you were supposed to bring a laptop or handouts.”

2. Know Your Audience

It’s as important to understand your audience as it is to understand the subject you’ll be discussing in front of them. “Make sure you understand the level of knowledge,” Goodfellow says, and tailor your presentation accordingly. “You don’t want to bore them with details they already know nor do you want to overwhelm them.”

Josephine Lee , third place winner in the 2016 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking , emphasizes that even if she’s giving the same speech to two different audiences, she’ll take the time to customize it. She always asks herself, “What is the specific audience and why are they there?”

So, for example, the toast you’d give at an engagement party among all your college friends might be pretty different from the speech you give at the same friend’s wedding in front of the whole extended family.

Or in a professional context, imagine you’re giving a presentation about the future of your company. That would look really different depending on whether you’re talking to a group of executives from your own organization versus a room full of college students who are interested in getting into the industry. For one, you might dive into the nitty gritty of last quarter’s performance and share your insights about what changes your organization needs to make to remain competitive. For the other, you’d probably zoom out a bit more, give an intro to your industry, and sketch out what your company does and where it’s going.

3. Plan and Structure Your Speech

So often the focus of advice about public speaking is about how you’re saying the words in front of an audience. Those things are unequivocally important (which is why we go into detail about them below!) but before you get there, you have to think about what you’re saying.

“You can have great diction and you can have great presentation skills, but if your words and structure are all over the place then people are not going to remember what you said,” says Lee, who credits Toastmasters with teaching her how to write a speech. “It is 100% about simplicity, because when you’re giving a speech in front of a live audience it’s so fleeting that if you have multiple points and if you go off on tangents and if you don’t stay on one simple path then people won’t remember what you were speaking about.”

Lee always picks one central point when she’s preparing a talk—whether she’ll be speaking for five minutes or 45. She’ll present her central theme, give supporting evidence and examples, and keep circling back to that main message. “So even if the audience forgets 99% of your speech, which they will, they will go home with that 1%,” she says.

Rajiv Nathan , a Muse career coach and founder and CEO of Startup Hypeman , takes a similar approach with a slightly different formula. His go-to structure for a talk is “inward, outward, forward.” He starts with a story that explains why he’s talking about this topic in the first place, zooms out to evidence that others are thinking about it as well, and ends with solutions.

In a workplace setting, this might translate into laying out a challenge your team is facing, zooming out to examine how other teams and companies are thinking about and handling similar issues, and end by proposing next steps for your team.

4. Don’t Overload Your Slides

If you’re using slides to accompany your presentation, make sure you avoid overloading them with too much text. “Think about how you like to be presented to,” Goodfellow says. “Very few of us like an 80-slide presentation where the person just reads everything to us.”

Beyond the simple fact that people will be distracted squinting at that teeny tiny type, you might be tempted to start reading off the slides and you’ll end up sounding a little too much like Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher (i.e. droning on and on and on in a monotone).

Instead, Nathan says, use slides primarily as visual complements to your words and a tool to emphasize your main takeaway.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

Okay, pay attention, because if you absorb just one thing from this article it should be this: You have to practice. Not once or twice but over and over again.

“When you practice it enough you figure out the rhythm,” says Nathan, who estimates he practiced his TEDx talk about 100 times before he gave it. You’ll also feel more confident and comfortable speaking without reading off a piece of paper (or your slides) because the structure and progression will become so familiar.

Lee takes advantage of any opportunity to practice when she’s preparing to speak. “Practice of any sort can be very helpful. I practice in my room or in the shower or driving in the car,” she says.

6. Get Feedback

While practicing on your own is useful, it can be even better to do it in front of a live audience—even if that’s just your work bestie or your sister. The more you get used to speaking in front of actual humans the easier it’ll get.

Plus, you can get feedback from your trusted practice audience before you go out and do the real thing. Ask them if your words and points were clear, if there was anything that confused them, how your rhythm was, and if there was anything else they noticed.

You can also give yourself feedback. Use your phone (or whatever other device you have) to record audio or video of your practice sessions. When you play it back, you can become your own audience in a way and pick up on things you didn’t realize needed some attention.

“I have had clients astounded at their mannerisms and overuse of ‘um’ when we’ve played back video. Most of us have a nervous ‘go to’ sound or movement,” Goodfellow says. “Once you’re aware of it, you can work on it.”

7. Memorize Your First and Last Lines

You’ll want to have a pretty clear idea of what you’re going to say, of course. But you also don’t want to sound like a robot regurgitating a pile of words you wrote down.

By the time she was comfortable in front of an audience, Lee wasn’t reading her speeches or even memorizing an exact script. “If you memorize everything word for word, it’s not going to sound very natural,” she says. Instead, she plans the structure but keeps the words themselves a little loose with a couple of exceptions: “I generally try to memorize the opening sentence and the closing sentence.”

The goal is to ensure you start and end strong while still giving yourself the room to speak naturally in between.

8. Join a Club or Go to a Workshop

If you’re committed to improving your public speaking skills, then not only should you practice each speech or presentation before you give it, but you should also try to get as many of the real thing under your belt as you can so that you become accustomed to it.

“It’s the most important to get as much stage time in front of an audience” as possible, Lee says. “That’s why Toastmasters was such a useful organization for me because it gave me the grounds to practice on in front of a live audience.”

Toastmasters is of course one of the more well-known options, with more than 16,000 clubs all over the world, but you can also check out meetups, classes, and workshops. If those options aren’t available in your area or don’t appeal to you, try gathering a group of friends and/or colleagues who want to practice their skills and give and get feedback on a regular basis as well.

During Your Speech

Doing all of the prep work should help you feel ready and confident—at least, more than you would otherwise. Here’s how you can keep helping yourself in the moment.

9. Get in the Zone

For about 10 minutes before he gets on stage to give a talk, Nathan becomes something of a recluse. He doesn’t talk to anyone, he drinks some water, he crouches down somewhere, he focuses on his breathing, and he repeats this phrase to himself: “Use expression to create possibility.”

Now, that’s a very specific set of actions that works for him, but he recommends everyone figure out their own “stage mantra” or routine. Ask yourself, he says, “What do you need to be repeating to yourself beforehand? What, action-wise, do you need to do beforehand to get yourself in the zone?”

It might take some time to find the things that help you in the lead-up, whether you do them the night before, the day of, or in the moments just before you begin. If you’re not sure where to start, think back to some other reference point in your life when you were preparing for an important event, Nathan says. What did you use to do before a baseball game or piano recital or big exam? See if those things help now and iterate until you find the right combination.

10. Don’t Bury Your Face in Notes

When Lee first started giving speeches, she’d just read the whole thing word for word off a piece of paper. “It was terrible,” she says, remembering the early days before she became the accomplished speaker she is today. “Notes are like a crutch. So you just start to rely on [them] more and more,” she’s realized. “It’s more important that you’re connecting with the audience, making eye contact with the audience, and [having] a true conversation with the audience.”

She no longer uses notes at all—she just memorizes the opening and closing lines, as mentioned—but reaching that comfort level takes practice. If you’re still working up to that and need your notes, she says, go with bullet points. They’ll help you stay on track without tempting you to read everything from the page.

Notes can also block your face or torso, or draw your eyes down as you’re reading, says Nathan. So if you plan to bring some, try folding your paper or using index cards with just those few bullet points to serve as a reference.

11. Make Eye Contact

You’ve surely heard it before, but eye contact is key in public speaking. It helps you connect with the audience, Lee says, and it’s most effective when you focus on one person at a time. “When you are giving a speech, you should always sound like you are delivering to a single individual rather than speaking to the masses,” she says. “Direct eye contact with one person then moving to another is an effective way to do that.”

12. Use Pauses

“A lot of times people speak really fast. Their mind is racing and they want to make a good impression,” says Jennifer Sukola , a Muse career coach and human resources professional. “People tend to want to rush through and get it over with,” especially when they’re nervous. It’s something you might get feedback about or pick up on if you record yourself.

One of Sukola’s biggest tips for public speaking—using pauses—can help with overall speed as well as pacing. You can use pauses strategically, inserting them right after important points to let them sink in or right before to allow you to gather your thoughts and get the audience’s attention for what you’re about to say.

Sukola likes to follow a structure where she makes a point, pauses, provides support for that point and recaps, pauses again, makes a related point, etc. “If you follow that outline and pause in conjunction with the points you’re making,” she says, “the audience has a chance to let that simmer, to let your points settle and think through [them].”

13. Repeat Yourself

Remember that the people listening to you talk live can’t rewind to catch that important thing you just said or flip back a few pages to find that crucial point you made earlier the way they could if they were watching a video or reading a book.

So help them out by repeating the thesis or main takeaway of your talk, says Nathan. In his own talks, he might repeat that take-home line six or eight times. The repetition ensures that everyone hears it, realizes it’s important, and can process it and let it sink in.

“It’s got to be short and punchy,” says Nathan, and you can accentuate it with pauses before or after you say it. If you have slides, you might also want to put it up there once or twice. It’s like the chorus of a song, Nathan explains. It’s catchy and it’s the first thing someone will be able to repeat back to you.

14. Let Some Questions Go

You can do a whole lot of planning, but the truth is that you can’t anticipate everything, including questions that might come up. Goodfellow stresses that it’s okay to say, “That’s a great question, let me get back to you on that.” In fact, that’s far better than stammering through and making something up.

15. Keep Talking

Lee may now be an award-winning speaker who travels all over the world to give talks and feels comfortable ditching the notes, but even she still freezes and forgets her speech sometimes. You have to just keep talking until you find your way back.

“Get away from that mentality that you have to be perfect. It’s okay if you forget,” she says. “You learn to start to fill in the gaps. Start to speak until you remember. No one in the audience knows you forgot your speech,” she adds. “What you are feeling inside is not as apparent as you think it is. If you keep that in mind and keep talking, eventually you’ll come back.”

And if your talk has a clear, simple structure, it’ll be easier to find your way back in.

16. Remember the Audience Is on Your Side

For many people, public speaking feels like one of the scariest things they could be called on to do, Lee says. They’re terrified of failing and think they’ll be humiliated and ostracized. But the people on the other side don’t want to see you mess up—they’re eager to hear what you have to say.

“If you remember that the audience wants you to do well, that they’re on your side, it’s a much easier process,” says Lee. Focus on what you’re giving to the audience—as if you were giving advice or telling a story to your best friend—rather than on yourself and how you appear.

17. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Finally, remember that everyone gets nervous. Those executives many levels above you whose presence is making you sweat? They probably get nervous when they speak, too, Goodfellow points out. “Give yourself a little bit of grace,” she says, and do the best that you can.

how to make public speaking effective

how to make public speaking effective

9 simple and effective public speaking tips for scientists

Do you fear public speaking? Don't worry, a lot of people hate giving presentations in front of an audience, whether it is just one person or an entire Mongolian horde. Unfortunately for research scientists, public speaking is part of the job and can affect how successful you are at getting your ideas heard, advancing your career and receiving more funding.

Here are Scientifica’s top 9 tips for making public speaking easier:

1. be prepared.

The most important part of a successful public speaking presentation happens before you even start talking. Once you do begin speaking, you will be thankful for your fastidious preparation and practice.

2. Command the space

Be aware of your body language when public speaking. The right physical communication can have a profound impact on how your message is received and interpreted.

Here are some ways to improve your body language:

Top tips for effective public speaking

3. Channel your inner Patrick Stewart

The tone of your voice and how you talk will have a significant impact on the way your talk is received. To speak clearly and confidently you must become like a classically trained actor (e.g. Shakespearean actor and esteemed Star Trek captain Patrick Stewart). Use the 5 ‘P’s to improve the clarity of your speech when public speaking:

4. Know your audience

Scientists often have to give presentations to a variety of people; from school children to the public, undergraduates and other experts in their field. Ensure that the content, language, tone, body language is appropriate for the audience.

Furthermore, try to understand why the audience is listening. Ask: “what will I gain from listening to this talk?” as if you were in the audience yourself. Be clear about your goal and what the audience should obtain by attending. Additionally, establish your credibility. Tell your audience why they should listen to you. For tips on how to communicate your research to non-expert, read this article.

5. Conquer your fear

Easier said than done, but understanding how your nerves affect your ability to speak publicly is a good start. Knowing what might happen will help to calm your nerves and carry on if they start.

Firstly, the more prepared you are, the better and less nervous you will be and the better you will be able to deal with any mishaps.

Do not drink caffeine beforehand it will heighten your anxiety. But do take water in case you get a dry mouth.

Eat something beforehand, a low sugar level won’t help to dispel any nervous thoughts and will also affect your concentration levels.

Remember that the audience is not there to see you. They are much more interested in what you have to say. They also have no interest in you failing; they are your friends not your enemies. Remember that you are speaking as a service to your attendees, this helps focus less on you and more on the content.

Don’t tell the audience you are nervous. Nearly everyone suffers from some anxiety about public speaking; it is rarely as obvious from the outside as it feels.

If necessary, use breathing and relaxation techniques before you begin to help settle any last minute jitters.

For more tips on how to overcome nervousness to improve your public speaking, read this useful article. Don't let the fear of public speaking take over.

Be fearless with public speaking

6. Throw away your notes

Although you should have written notes on all of the points you want to make for each slide, don’t take them into the presentation with you. (If you must have something in case of an emergency, then create a list of bullet points below your slides in your presentation software.)

Using notes has two key harmful effects on your talk:

7. Add some style

If you are using presentation slides, then make the most of them. More than being pretty, the slides should be functional, but adding a bit of fun and colour usually doesn’t hurt. Here are three quick tips to improve slides:

You don’t want to have everything you are going to say in the slides. Just prompts to help remind you what to talk about and audio/visual media to enhance any point you are making.

8. Try to enjoy yourself (or at least look like it!)

If you look bored when you are speaking, then the audience will think you are bored. And if you’re bored by the topic, then why should anyone listening be interested? When you come out, have a smile on your face, make it seem like your happy and thankful to be there (even if you’d rather be in bed watching Netflix). If you feel confident enough to do so, add a little humour (as long as it’s appropriate). This will help you and your audience relax, and break the ice if the room is feeling a little tense or unfriendly.

9. Learn from your mistakes (and successes)

Every time you give a presentation, take some time afterwards to think about what worked and what failed. If it went well, consider what made it go well. If it went badly, analyse where and how it went wrong so that next time you can change your strategy and ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again during your next public speaking role.

Embrace the challenge

Public speaking is part of the life of a research scientist, and you should take every possible opportunity to advocate your work. What is the point of making scientific discoveries (big or small) if no one knows about them?

The best way to deal with the (sometimes unfortunate) need to speak publicly is to embrace it, realise how it will help you and your audience, and enjoy the conversation that it sparks.

We hope that these top tips for effective public speaking have helped you and good luck.

Always be confident when public speaking, you will be great!

Here are some other articles you may be interested in, tips for presenting your scientific poster at a conference, less is more: advice for keeping your poster concise, sign up to receive the latest news and resources.

Don’t miss a thing, access up-to-date advice to enhance your research.

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