11 Ways to Enhance Your Public Speaking Skills

Updated on August 8, 2017
Tim Truzy info4u profile image

Tim Truzy is a rehabilitation counselor, educator, and former dispatcher from North Carolina.

The Importance of Public Speaking

We never know when we may have to speak about a subject for a gathering of people. We are called upon to present in classes. Employers may want us to share a technique or skill with fellow workers. Family reunions may put us up on a podium to say a few words. In our religious meetings, requests may be made of us to talk about a topic or event – The possibilities are endless for public speaking.

Yet, the fear of public speaking is a common phobia held by approximately 70 percent of the population. In some instances, people have rated the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death. Also, research from different studies has shown women have this fear in slightly greater numbers than men. Cultural factors can account for some of these differences between males and females. But regardless of the cause, fear of public speaking can be reduced or completely changed to optimism about addressing a crowd of people.

As a counselor I was routinely asked to do presentations for groups. I developed strategies to communicate effectively with my audience. Likewise, when carrying out lessons for my students when I would teach classes, I refined those skills to deliver instruction with confidence. Below are some strategies and techniques which should help you develop your public speaking skills. Here are eleven important activities and ideas to incorporate into your skill set:

Things to Consider

  • Understand others also have the fear of public speaking. Your listeners usually empathize with you. Many of your audience would dread standing before others and delivering a speech or talk on a subject. From this perspective: You can be more forgiving of yourself when you make a mistake and continue onward with your presentation.
  • Be aware of your limitations and strengths. Examine the area where you will be speaking. Do you need better lighting? Are the acoustics good? Make any adjustments to the physical environment which will aid you in reaching your audience. Understand your overall discomfort with public speaking, and realize you can reach a comfort level.

Things for You to Do

  • Study and prepare to talk about your topic thoroughly. Read up on the topic. Make notes. Prepare an outline to aid you with remembering points you want to mention to your audience. (Hint: If you are using slides, develop it around your points from the notes or outline to make the presentation flow easier.)
  • Develop handouts. You can pass these out at the start of your speech. Use them to underscore important facts in your presentation. Added benefit: You can direct your audience’s attention to specific areas of the printed document to reduce the need to repeat statements. This keeps your speech moving forward.
  • Use humor to assist you. Telling a funny story related to your topic helps to ease tensions of the audience. Humor also may assist you in relaxing during your talk. Another added benefit: A good comical story may aid the listeners in recalling what you said during your speech.
  • Use your voice to keep attention. Adjust the volume of your voice as needed when delivering your speech. Show interest in your topic when you speak.
  • Engage your listeners with questions. Plan to ask your listeners questions as you move through your speech. This keeps their attention on what you are saying. For instance, if your topic is the American Civil War, you may ask something about that era in history. You may ask: “Does anyone know how many states were in the Union before the war started?” You could take answers before starting your speech.
  • Observe and listen to yourself before the planned date of your speech.
  • Watch videos or listen to recordings of excellent speakers. Examine their body positioning. Note their tone of voice at various points in the presentation. Remember what they did to keep your attention. Recognize what would and would not work for you when talking to an audience.
  • Record yourself. Make a video or audio recording of yourself presenting your speech. Watch your body language. Are you showing interest in the subject through your facial expressions? Is your voice shaky and/or sounding monotonous? (Hint: Some people stand in front of a mirror and practice reading the speech.)
  • Get feedback from a friend or trusted family member. Meet a reliable person at their home or somewhere where you can give a “mock” presentation. This will provide you with solid advice from a person you trust in a safe environment. You can work to improve your presentation with constructive advice.
  • Have strategies for dealing with the unexpected question. Regardless of how well you prepare, there will be unplanned questions at some point when you make presentations. There are many ways to respond which will keep your speech on track without alienating your listeners. Try them when you practice your presentation with a trusted ally.

For example, if you are lecturing on the American Civil War, someone might ask a question not relevant to the topic, or a question you are not ready to reply to. They may say: “Do you think John F. Kennedy would have rallied the troops like President Lincoln did?” You could answer several ways. You might say: “I can’t honestly answer that question. It’s not what we are discussing today.” Then, continue on with your presentation. Or you might say: “Interesting question. Unfortunately, my speech only covers the Civil War era.”

Preparing in all these ways will help you deal with the expected and the unexpected with confidence.

Is public speaking your biggest fear?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)