Public Speaking Tips To Capture Your Audience

Public speaking tips - prepare your speech & know your topic

Giving a speech involves preparation, practice, and delivery, but delivering a good or great speech requires creativity at every level. The language you use and the tone of voice and mannerisms you exhibit impact the effectiveness of your speech. Incorporate public speaking tips to improve your speech.

Building and improving good public speaking skills can be seen as a never-ending journey – and with good reason. Excellent public speakers never stop seeking excellence. Whether you are someone who suffers from stage fright or an accomplished and comfortable speaker, there are public speaking you can implement to improve how you convey yourself when on stage.

What Public Speaking Tips Can Make You A Better Public Speaker?

You can employ many tactics to catapult you forward as a top-notch public speaker. When you get in front of an audience, do you get butterflies? Do you have trouble maintaining strong eye contact? Are your facial expressions conveying anything but confidence?

We have a multitude of tips for you to dive into. First, let’s start with the 5 Ps of public speaking.

Planning: Before writing down a single word of a speech, the best speakers do a lot of planning. Start with bullet points of the main points you want to cover during your address.

Preparation: Let’s dig into this a bit further. After planning the path your speech should take, you need to research the key points you will cover. If you are giving a persuasive essay, this is the time to substantiate your thoughts and opinions on the critical points you plan to make. Write down your speech – or at least the main idea.

Pubic speaking tips - research your topic
  • Practice: The last thing you want to do is read a speech word for word off of note cards or a piece of paper, which can happen if you deliver the speech for the first time in front of a live audience. Practicing the speech several times is an important step you do not want to omit.
  • Performance: People sometimes fail to recognize that a speech is a type of performance. The speaker wants to engage the audience members in some way. Of course, the most obvious way is through your words; however, body language such as hand gestures can really help strengthen your communication skills. The audience is taking in the big picture when listening to a speech, including every move the speaker makes.
  • Passion: Think of the best, most powerful public speaking engagements you have witnessed. Those people were likely passionate about their topic. There are many ways to show passion, such as telling a personal story, using voice inflection, or otherwise showing emotion. Effective public speaking grabs the audience and tugs at their emotions.
Public speaking tips - speak with passion

How Can The Language You Use Up Your Public Speaking Game?

Choosing your words carefully can make a big difference in the effectiveness of a public speech. If you make the wrong choices, your audience may quickly get bored or disengaged. So how do you avoid falling into that trap?

It is essential to consider both the words you say or your oral language, as well as your body language and facial expressions.

  • Anecdotes: Telling personal stories or little anecdotes may engage the audience more than just listing facts. However, don’t put too many of these into your speech. Remember what the point of the speech is, and try to stay on topic. Includes only those stories that advance your point.
  • Avoid Fillers: While it is good to tell stories to ensure the audience is going to pay attention, don’t add a bunch of fillers to your speech. Tell a story or two to warm up the audience, then get to the task at hand. Inserting filler words or stories into a speech to make it longer will likely result in a bored audience. Say what you need to say efficiently.
  • Body Language: Your body language conveys a lot to those watching. If you are slouching down, that shows a lack of confidence. Crossing your arms in front of you is a non-verbal sign of being closed off and not open to the ideas of others. Be sure you stand up straight, decisively use your hands or keep them at your side or on the podium, and watch your facial expressions when you practice.
Public speaking tips - friendly body language
  • Facial Expressions: Just like your body movements tell others about you, so do your facial expressions. This is one reason why practicing in front of a mirror or in front of others is vital. Smiling periodically and maintaining strong eye contact convey confidence to those watching. If you have speaking anxiety, your face might have tics you can work to alleviate by practicing.
  • Humor: Unless the event is meant to be somber and serious, insert some humor for more engagement with the audience. No one expects you to be a stand-up comedian, but you can use a funny story or quote to get people smiling as part of your warm-up or elsewhere in the speech if appropriate.
  • Word Choice: Choosing your words carefully is another way to keep your audience’s attention. Sometimes a speech requires technical terminology, but for the most part, keep the terms simple enough that everyone present can understand what you are trying to say.

How Can A Memorable Line Make Your Whole Speech Memorable?

Although there are many things you can do when given the opportunity to get in front of a group and speak to ensure maximum engagement, adding a memorable line that resonates within your own brain, a famous quote, or something that a loved one of yours has always said can help. Why does a memorable line or quote make a difference? Because it is a great tactic to validate your claims or assertions.

As communications specialist Nancy Duarte notes, the best speeches create a dynamic called a sparkline that contrasts the idea of “where reality is” to “where things could be. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did this repeatedly in his “I Have a Dream speech” when he compared the state of Black Americans with what was promised and what could be. Each time, he made an impact on the audience, so they left with an important takeaway: the ability to envision a new normal.

You can see how the speech used sparklines in this video by Ms. Duarte:

Not every speech will make the history books like King’s did, but any speaker can use the sparkline storytelling technique to help the audience envision what the future would be like if the points in the speech were put into practice.

How Can Uncertainty, Fear, And Nervous Habits Derail Your Speech?

Many people have a fear of public speaking, but you can’t let that nervousness be visible to the audience. As soon as you show those nerves and uncertainty, you lose the audience a little bit. Find tactics, such as taking deep breaths, to help calm your nerves. Practice can help you work out the fear.

How Can You Incorporate Problems And Solutions Into Your Speech?

Especially true when giving a speech where you know people will come to the venue with differing opinions, be ready to combat the thoughts and opinions of others by meeting the issues head-on. If you know how people commonly view certain things, don’t be wishy-washy. Rather, explain why you disagree with that viewpoint or framing.

Take a problem, present it honestly, and state your solutions. Of course, some may disagree with you, but there is honor and honesty in laying it out there clearly.

Public speaking tip - offer solutions

What Are The 10 Habits Of Highly Successful Public Speakers?

  1. Have passion for your topic. If you are not passionate, why would the audience be?
  2. Have a clear goal. Decide your main goal for the speech and work to achieve it.
  3. Be authentic. Speak from the heart.
  4. Connect with the audience quickly.
  5. Involve the audience however you can.
  6. Exude confidence.
  7. Prepare diligently and thoroughly by doing your research and practicing.
  8. Respect the time limit. If you are told to speak for 5-7 minutes, do not go over.
  9. Keep improving your presentation skills. Don’t wait for your next presentation to seek excellence; set your goals high whenever you speak.
  10. Speak with your whole self and use resources. Don’t just say the words: use visual aids, use your body, master your facial expressions, incorporate music, etc.

Pam Berg

A former English teacher and currently an elementary principal in a rural school, Pam has honed her speaking skills in the classroom and before professional groups. Pam enjoys sharing her insights about public speaking almost as much as she enjoys running, which she does daily.

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