We have compiled a list of our favourite public speaking tips for you. We hope it helps you consider some new ways in which you can explore and improve your public speaking skills.
If you make it all the way to the end, you will note the 50th point is left blank so that you can help complete the list by leaving a comment stating what you think would be a great “50th” point.
So here are 50 top public speaking tips…
1. Apply the V.A.K. attack: Most people tend to have a preferred learning style which relates to how they receive and process information. Some people prefer information to be presented visually, others prefer auditory and some respond better to kinesthetic experiences. If you can combine these three elements in your delivery, you can come closer to matching your audience’s preferred style of receiving and retaining information
2. Understated is under-rated: Avoid the detail. In most cases, it makes sense not to insult the intelligence of the audience by explaining your points in too much detail. If done well, an understated point can keep the content sharp as well as leave the audience wanting more. You can elaborate more during question time if required.
3. Speak without words: A speakers message is largely received by the audience through the speakers body language and tonality (vocal variety). It is widely quoted that the audience receives the speakers message: 55% through their body language, 38% through their tonality and only 7% through the words used. Whilst these exact numbers are questionable, our experience shows that the use of effective body language and tonality is very important when communicating your message. Consider this carefully when you allocate your time to preparing and practicing your speech.
4. Make messages memorable: When speaking, make your message memorable for the audience by:
a) Using the rule of three. When it comes to words or sentences, using three (rather than two or four) has a balancing quality to it. For example: “I came, I saw, I conquered”; or “Stop, Look and Listen” for road safety
b) Use alliteration by starting each word with the same letter. For example “Toxic Tax”.
c) Use words that have the same syllables. Words with rhythms are easy to recall. For example: “Slip, Slop Slap” for sun protection.
5. Build your speech fitness: Just like a good sports person needs to practice over time, so too do good communicators and speakers. If you are to invest in public speaking classes or coaching, our experience shows that the benefits of shorter more regular classes are better than longer one-off workshops
6. Be Flexible: It is considered disrespectful to finish over time. Learn to be a flexible public speaker. When preparing your speech, consider parts you can cut and summarise if you sense you are running out of time.
7. Plan to finish early: Find out how long you have to talk and don’t just finish on time, try to finish early. By ending a little early, people will be focused on you as you deliver your powerful close rather than collecting their things to leave. When writing your speech, remember that most people speak at about – words per minute.
8. Use notes if you need to: Notes or no notes? Do whatever you are comfortable with. If you use notes, try to use them only to reference the key points you need to make. Use one hand notes, clearly written and make sure they are easy to turn over. Avoid reading your notes.
9. If you use notes, adopt Ready, Set, Go!: As you finish delivering a key point, look back at your notes to review the next point in silence (ready); then look back at audience whilst you have a breath (set); and then start speaking to deliver your next message (go!). The pause gives your audience the chance to absorb the message and will also make you look more confident.
10. “Whatchoo talkin ’bout Willis?”: Know your topic and your purpose for speaking. Do your research. The more you know, the more confident you are likely to be. Most people will speak well if they are well prepared. Anticipate questions and prepare responses if there is going to be a question time. Also understand the purpose of your speech. It may be to inform, persuade, demonstrate or tell a story.
11. Use simple words: Short sharp and simple words are most effective to get your message across. Whilst complex words maybe good in writing where the reader can re-read and refer back to the words, they are often lost in the room when speaking.
12. Use signals and sign posts: Help your audience understand where they are in the context of your speech. Using phrases like “in conclusion”, “three points”, “1st point”, “2nd point”, “3rd point”, “in summary” can help your audience receive the message better.
13. Maintain your posture: Walk tall. Stand straight. Smile. Shoulders back. Move with purpose and energy. Place your feet firmly on the ground. Keep your head and eyes up. Look organised. The tone is set before the speaking begins so aim to communicate confidence before you open your mouth.
14. Vary your volume: Develop a strong confident voice. Speak up. Then try dropping the volume of your speech when you want to make an important point and gain your audience’s undivided attention.
15. Look sharp, feel sharp: You only get one chance to make a first impression so dress for the occasion. Invest in personal grooming and appropriate dress attire. If in doubt, dress up not down. You will not only feel more confident but you will portray credibility with the audience.first impressions count
16. Add some theatre: If the purpose of you presentation is to inform or entertain then try adding some theatre by creating a theme, being a character, dressing up, using props etc.. Entertaining presentations are often the most memorable and talked about.
17. Know your audience: Who are you talking to? Know who they are and why they are coming. Then tailor your speech accordingly. Sometimes its people you know, sometimes it is not.
18. Repeat your message. Repeat your message. It’s not what you tell them but what they remember that counts. Repetition is key. State your core message in the opener, during the body and in summarising. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Tell them what you going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them”.
19. Start with a great opener: You have around 10 seconds to get the audience’s attention. If you nail it, you will set the tone for the whole speech. If you don’t, it can be very hard to recover. Use interesting statistics. Tell an interesting story. Show a funny or alarming visual image. Give an interesting quote. Say a list of disconnected words and then show how they are connected. Involve the audience with questions or show of hands. These are all ways you can grab the audience attention early. Have some fun with it!
20. Listen with your eyes and ears. A good speaker should listen to the audience with their eyes and ears to understand the audiences mood. Are they engaged or bored, laughing or squirming, focused or distracted? Then be flexible in your approach if you are required to change the mood.
21. Connect with your audience. Use emotion, make sincere eye contact, ask questions, tell a story and change your distance from the audience. The closer you get to the audience in distance, the greater the connection usually becomes. Use the words “you&” & “we” through-out your speech. Never turn your back.
22. Point, Turn & Talk. This technique can make you look more professional and is especially helpful when you are refer to a visual aid. It involves:
• Point at the visual – or touch the visual
• Turn to look at the audience.
• Talk – and elaborate about the point you want to make.
By doing this, we establish eye contact with the audience, engage them more and can encourage greater audience participation.
23. Give to your audience: Focus on what you can give to your audience and stop worrying about yourself. Try thinking more about them and less about you.
24. Make Mistakes: Don’t get too caught up in giving the “perfect” polished speech. Mistakes handled well can be a great way to make your speech more natural and help you connect more with the audience. Relax and have some fun with it!
25. Sell the benefits to the audience: WIIFMWhy should they care? Tell them the benefits of listening to your speech. How will it make their life better? This is commonly referred to as “What is in it for me”; or WiiFM.
26. Make eye contact: Maintain sincere eye contact with your audience to make them feel involved. This will also make you look more confident and in control. Look into the eyes of a person in the audience for – seconds at a time and glance at the whole audience every so often.
28. Relax: If you are a nervous speaker, you are a normal speaker. Focus on your breath to centre and relax yourself. The audience don’t usually notice when a speaker is nervous.
29. Hide your signs of nerves: Nerves are normal. Each speaker is different and can show signs of nerves in different ways. Most signs can be hidden before you arrive. If you are prone to sweating, wear a neutral colour shirt and an undershirt to capture the sweat. If your hands shake and you use notes, find something hard to place your notes on to avoid shaking the paper. If you often break out with a rash on your neck, wear a scarf or turtle neck top.
30. Breathe: A nervous speaker will usually hold their breath more than normal. The simple art of breathing calmly, deeply and regularly is one the best ways to centre and relax yourself. Breathe in, hold your breath and then focus on breathing out. Here is a great blog on the power of breathing.
31. Tell a story: Try to tell at least one story in every speech. Start with a story if you can. Relate it to the core message and it will become more memorable. Stories are a great way to help you connect more with your audience.
32. Make a story bank: If something happens to you that would make for a great story, be sure to write it down in your own story bank. Flick through the book to choose a story that relates to your next speech. You would be surprised how you can relate a story to many different themes when you try.
33. Be aware of your pace: It’s not what you say, but how you say it that audience will usually remember. Nervous speech is usually fast paced speech. Confident speech is often well-paced and even quite slow. By slowing your speech down you can look more confident and place emphasis on your words.
34. Be aware of your tone: Intelligent and dynamic use of your voice will help you get your message across to your audience. Consider pitch and inflection. Pitch relates to the sound frequency at which you speak. For example your voice may be high, medium, or low. Inflection relates to a change in pitch. Great public speakers will use pitch and inflection to help create a mood, emotion and meaning to their spoken words. For example, a downward inflection on a word such as “really” may help convey doubt, whereas an upward inflection may imply surprise.
35. Use your hands effectively: Hand movements play a big role in how your audience receive your message, for better or for worse. As a general rule, it is best to leave your arms comfortably at your side so they are free to gesture as appropriate. Do not fidget, do not put your hands in your pockets, do not place your hands behind your back. Your hands can help you emphasise, add character and signal points.
36. Practice: The more time you spend practicing the more you are likely to improve – as simple as that. Practice as if you are in front of the audience you are preparing for, visualise yourself in front of the audience speaking confidently. Practice note only the words but also practice and refine your body language and vocal variety.
37. Emphasise with a pause: The pause is one of the speakers’ most powerful tools. Pauses can be used to emphasize a point. Be comfortable with silence, it portrays confidence. Only fill space between sentences with silence, avoid filler words. Pauses can be effective used when held for between – seconds.
38. Know the room: Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids. Sit in the back-corner seat of the room to see how it feels. Will your voice carry? Can you see the visuals clearly? Think of what you need to deliver an effective speech. If there are things in the room you don’t need, remove them. Minimise potential distractions.
39. Stand up, don’t sit down: If given a choice, always stand up to give a presentation. Not only will you look more persuasive on your feet, you will be far more commanding and gain more attention.
40. Involve the audience: Quiz them, question them, get them to write things down, make them raise their hands. An more involved audience is a more engaged audience.
41. Make time to practice: Block it out in your diary. Your deadline to have the speech prepared should be on the date you need to start practicing not the day before your speech!
42. Less written words: If you are presenting on power point, use more visual and less words. Complementing your spoken words with relevant visual aids can help your audience absorb the message (the VAK attack!).
43. Master metaphors: Metaphors are a great way to help the audience understand, relate to, and remember your message. For example, we use the piano staircase metaphor to help our audience relate to the importance of making public speaking more fun for children to learn.
44. Use a person’s name: Depending on the purpose of the speech, you can connect with the audience by using an audience members name early on in your speech. If you get the chance to mingle before, this may be your chance to gather some names.
45. Visualise success: If you believe that you’ll be successful, you will be. Tell yourself that you are poised, prepared, persuasive, positive and powerful.
46. Arrive early & stay late: Listen to what is being said and what the concerns, focus and touch points of the group are. Take some of the uncertainty out of your experience to help you connect more with the audience.
47. Never apologise: No matter how unprepared you are, never start a presentation with an apology. It saps your confidence and your audience’s.
48. End with a great close: Use something impactful or powerful to reinforce your message with the audience. Whether it be a statistic, quote or call to action. Perhaps you can complete the story you started in the opening? Never finish with the words “thank-you” or “that is all”.
49. Stop reading and start training: You don’t learn to swim well by reading a text book on swimming, you learn to swim by training with a coach. The same goes for speaking well in public. With training comes experience and confidence. Join a public speaking course or hire a public speaking coach and start training.
50. Tell us yours! We ask for your help to complete this list. Please tell us what you think would make a great th point to close off this list.
Super Fun, Super Skills, Super Speak!
Thanks For Reading.