Blog

How to Improve your Public Speaking

Ever watched a good public speaker? What is it that makes them a good speaker? Do they seem nervous? Anxious? Unsure of themselves? Of course not! That’s what makes them good public speakers.

They seem relaxed and comfortable. So the audience feels relaxed and comfortable. They seem knowledgeable and have all the key information at their fingertips. So the audience is happy to listen, trusting in the authority of this expert.

But how is the speaker feeling? And how were they feeling five minutes before they took the stage? Dry throat, legs like jelly, asking themselves “What am I doing here?” HELP! Or maybe they’ve done this kind of thing so many times that it’s just like a walk in the park for them.

If you are the second type, the one for whom public speaking is as natural as chatting to a friend, you can stop reading now. This article is for the rest of us.

Public speaking is the kind of thing we all have to do at some point. And it fills most of us with dread. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple clear techniques that can help you be more confident and effective.

Public Speaking Tips and Tricks

1. Know your stuff.

If this is a work or academic event, do your homework. Make sure you understand the topic. You can’t control everything in the room but you can control this. Confidence is so important to helping you and your audience relax if you know your stuff you don’t need to worry about following a script. You’ll be able to address the audience directly as individuals; people that YOU are helping.

2. Think about your audience.

What do they want from this talk? Don’t waste their time with irrelevant information. Don’t bore them to death with “interesting” stories about yourself. Whatever the situation and the topic, you can be pretty sure that what they want is a short clear talk, which gives them the information they need. This takes us to number three.

3. Be concise!

You are not being paid by the word. Short, clear and well organised will make you feel in control and will keep the audience on your side.

4. Slow down

You’re not being paid by the word and it’s definitely not a race. When people are nervous they have a tendency to talk too fast. Use pauses between chunks of information to allow your audience to process what you’ve said. These pauses allow you to breathe. If you can relax, so will your audience. If you can’t breathe, you can’t relax. Controlled and deliberate pauses are a very effective way to hold people’s attention and to reassure yourself that you are in control.

5. Remember the audience are just people.

Probably, quite friendly people, people who respond well to eye contact and a friendly face. In other words, people just like you. Look around the room, find a friendly face. Talk to them not the whole room. It will put you at ease. Then look around and find another…and another. Before long, you’ll have relaxed, got into the flow, you may even begin to enjoy it. And that’s what really good public speakers do. They they talk to people, not to rooms and most of all…they enjoy themselves!

Would you like to improve your English and gain better skills to help you progress in your work life? Find out more about our skills for career success course.