10 Tips on How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

Updated on August 8, 2017
davidlivermore profile image

David used to have a big fear of speaking in public. He got over that, so now he wants to help you get over your fear of public speaking.

This article will prepare you for any kind of public speech.
This article will prepare you for any kind of public speech. | Source

The Fear of Public Speaking

This topic of public speaking is one that is very close to me. I used to be terrified to speak in public. However, over the years I learned how to overcome this fear and I am now able to speak at conferences, conduct training classes, and talk to my employees in a group setting.

I want to pass my knowledge on to others so they won't have to experience the same fear I did when I gave my first public speech.

Always write out your speech ahead of time, as it will properly prepare you for it.
Always write out your speech ahead of time, as it will properly prepare you for it. | Source

Prepare for Your Public Speech

When you know you have a public speaking event coming up, ensure you prepare for it. There are some basic steps in preparing for a speech:

  • Get your material together. This would include reference material, slide shows, etc.
  • Prepare your speech. This includes writing it out, proofing it, and finalizing it.
  • Practice your speech to yourself. It's best to do this in front of a mirror and have a way to time yourself. This will allow you to see how long it takes you to run through the speech and how you look when you are conducting it.
  • Practice your speech in front of someone. Performing your speech in front of someone else can help as well, so you can receive feedback on your speech and how you present it. Try to pick someone who is unfamiliar with the topic. They will be able to watch how you present it and how clear your topics are, without focusing too much on the subject matter.

Plan ahead of time what you want to wear when giving your public speech.
Plan ahead of time what you want to wear when giving your public speech. | Source

Dress Up for Your Speech

Remember that all eyes will be on you during the presentation. So you need to dress the part. Wear your best clothing, groom yourself properly, and ensure you look sharp. Avoid anything flashy or distracting. This means avoiding jewelry that could reflect light or make noise. You want the audience to focus on you, not on what you are wearing.

Use Technology in Public Speeches

Presentations don't have to be dull and boring. With today's computer technology, your presentation can have various layers of media. Audio, video, and enhanced graphics can really make a presentation stand out, putting less pressure on your public speaking skills. In training classes I conducted, I use a visual slide show presentation which helps me get through each step in the class.

Always visit the restroom before a public speech to ensure you are fully prepared.
Always visit the restroom before a public speech to ensure you are fully prepared. | Source

Use the Restroom Before a Public Speech

Using the restroom before your speech will allow you to freshen up your look and do any business you have to do beforehand. Having to use the restroom during the speech will only distract you and possibly cause issues during the speech.

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Keep Hydrated During a Speech

I have seen a lot of public speakers talk for close to an hour without taking a drink of water. As the presentation goes on, I can see it affecting them. To avoid that, keep a bottle of water near you during the speech. When necessary take a drink from it so you keep hydrated and avoid having a dry mouth. Just don't drink so much that it would cause you to need the restroom while you are speaking!

Alternatively, take breaks during the speech so you can step away to take a drink.

Smile During a Public Speech

Facial expressions are very obvious when you are giving a presentation. People are watching your mouth since you are the one speaking. Smile as you give your presentation. If you don't smile, it will seem like you don't enjoy what you are talking about. In turn, the audience won't care what you are discussing if they think you don't care about it.

Using your hands during a public speech can help express yourself and will make you seem less stiff.
Using your hands during a public speech can help express yourself and will make you seem less stiff. | Source

Use Your Hands When Speaking

Don't keep stiff while giving a presentation. Instead, move your hands as you speak. it doesn't have to be over the top, but something subtle to show that you are relaxed and know what you are talking about. An audience likes to see a speaker whose words match their body language.

Engaging your audience during a public speech will keep them from getting bored.
Engaging your audience during a public speech will keep them from getting bored. | Source

Encourage Audience Participation

During a conference I went to, the speaker had people clap to show if they had done something before. She admitted it was to show those outside the room that she had a good presentation people were clapping for. Most presenters have people raise their hands, which generates no noise at all. It worked and made people laugh. Find a way to squeeze in some audience participation to loosen things up. Also, allow the audience to ask questions at the end of the presentation.

Be Prepared for Anything During a Public Speech

Things can happen during the presentation that will throw things off. A random question in the middle of it, technology failing, or some of your information being inaccurate the day of the presentation. Even though it's hard to prepare for the moment something happens, you have to be prepared to play it by ear.

Don't show fear when giving a public speech, otherwise the entire thing may fall apart.
Don't show fear when giving a public speech, otherwise the entire thing may fall apart. | Source

Confront Your Fear of Public Speaking

In the end, it's up to you to confront your fear of public speaking. I was terrified when I was first asked to conduct a training class in front of dozens of people. In the end I followed the tips above and the training class went great. Since then, I have come to enjoy the idea of public speaking and proudly say I have overcome my fear.

Do you think picturing the audience naked works during a public speech?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2012 David Livermore

    Comments

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      • CYong74 profile image

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        2 years ago from Singapore

        Great list of tips. Tip 1 is paramount, IMO. I think a lot of speakers assume they don't need to prepare, because they know their topics inside out. But they don't realise it's all in their heads, and so when translated to spoken words, it just comes out garbled and incoherent.

      • davidlivermore profile imageAUTHOR

        David Livermore 

        5 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

        I have actually heard about them, but never seen them in my area. I had to take a class in college, and even then that wasn't enough to prepare me for it. Thanks for your comment!

      • L.L. Woodard profile image

        L.L. Woodard 

        5 years ago from Oklahoma City

        You've presented useful and valid points to improve public speaking skills. At least in this part of the country, there are groups called Toast Masters that provide members the opportunity to speak in front of the group in order to hone public speaking skills and reduce the intimidation of speaking in front of a crowd.

        Voted up and Shared.

      • davidlivermore profile imageAUTHOR

        David Livermore 

        5 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

        Well I hope in the future any presentations you do will be more successful! Thank you!

      • Dreamhowl profile image

        Jessica Marello 

        5 years ago from United States

        This is good advice! I for one am terrible at speaking in public and my school presentations in front of class never ended very well. I probably should have followed some tips like these. Voted up!

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