10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills

Few are immune to the fear of public speaking. Marjorie North offers 10 tips for speakers to calm the nerves and deliverable memorable orations.

Marjorie North

Snakes? Fine. Flying? No problem. Public speaking? Yikes! Just thinking about public speaking — routinely described as one of the greatest (and most common) fears — can make your palms sweat. But there are many ways to tackle this anxiety and learn to deliver a memorable speech.

In part one of this series,  Mastering the Basics of Communication , I shared strategies to improve how you communicate. In part two, How to Communicate More Effectively in the Workplace , I examined how to apply these techniques as you interact with colleagues and supervisors in the workplace. For the third and final part of this series, I’m providing you with public speaking tips that will help reduce your anxiety, dispel myths, and improve your performance.

Here Are My 10 Tips for Public Speaking:

1. nervousness is normal. practice and prepare.

All people feel some physiological reactions like pounding hearts and trembling hands. Do not associate these feelings with the sense that you will perform poorly or make a fool of yourself. Some nerves are good. The adrenaline rush that makes you sweat also makes you more alert and ready to give your best performance.

The best way to overcome anxiety is to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. Take the time to go over your notes several times. Once you have become comfortable with the material, practice — a lot. Videotape yourself, or get a friend to critique your performance.

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2. Know Your Audience. Your Speech Is About Them, Not You.

Before you begin to craft your message, consider who the message is intended for. Learn as much about your listeners as you can. This will help you determine your choice of words, level of information, organization pattern, and motivational statement.

3. Organize Your Material in the Most Effective Manner to Attain Your Purpose.

Create the framework for your speech. Write down the topic, general purpose, specific purpose, central idea, and main points. Make sure to grab the audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds.

4. Watch for Feedback and Adapt to It.

Keep the focus on the audience. Gauge their reactions, adjust your message, and stay flexible. Delivering a canned speech will guarantee that you lose the attention of or confuse even the most devoted listeners.

5. Let Your Personality Come Through.

Be yourself, don’t become a talking head — in any type of communication. You will establish better credibility if your personality shines through, and your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.

6. Use Humor, Tell Stories, and Use Effective Language.

Inject a funny anecdote in your presentation, and you will certainly grab your audience’s attention. Audiences generally like a personal touch in a speech. A story can provide that.

7. Don’t Read Unless You Have to. Work from an Outline.

Reading from a script or slide fractures the interpersonal connection. By maintaining eye contact with the audience, you keep the focus on yourself and your message. A brief outline can serve to jog your memory and keep you on task.

8. Use Your Voice and Hands Effectively. Omit Nervous Gestures.

Nonverbal communication carries most of the message. Good delivery does not call attention to itself, but instead conveys the speaker’s ideas clearly and without distraction.

9. Grab Attention at the Beginning, and Close with a Dynamic End.

Do you enjoy hearing a speech start with “Today I’m going to talk to you about X”? Most people don’t. Instead, use a startling statistic, an interesting anecdote, or concise quotation. Conclude your speech with a summary and a strong statement that your audience is sure to remember.

10. Use Audiovisual Aids Wisely.

Too many can break the direct connection to the audience, so use them sparingly. They should enhance or clarify your content, or capture and maintain your audience’s attention.

Practice Does Not Make Perfect

Good communication is never perfect, and nobody expects you to be perfect. However, putting in the requisite time to prepare will help you deliver a better speech. You may not be able to shake your nerves entirely, but you can learn to minimize them.

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About the Author

North is a consultant for political candidates, physicians, and lawyers, and runs a private practice specializing in public speaking, and executive communication skills. Previously, she was the clinical director in the department of speech and language pathology and audiology at Northeastern University.

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14 Tips On How To Improve Speaking Skills (Speak Like A Pro!)

If you feel nervous or flustered when it’s your time to talk, use these actionable practices to be more articulate and well-spoken in the workplace and beyond.

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Whether you’re chatting with coworkers at lunch, having an important conversation with your boss, or giving a big presentation, speaking with confidence and charisma can transform your daily life.

Research shows that communication skills are strong predictors of your success in the workplace and relationships . Yet, so many people still struggle with verbally expressing themselves. Excellent speakers benefit from:

  • Improved communication
  • Getting their ideas heard
  • Earning more respect
  • Being interrupted less
  • Having more loyal and deep connections
  • Not being underestimated or overlooked

If you are hesitating or flustered when it’s your turn to talk, here are 14 actionable tips for improving your speaking skills.

Watch our video below to learn powerful presentation skills in person, on video, and in meetings:

How to Improve Speaking Skills at Work and Beyond: 14 Action-Packed Tips

Most kids learn to talk around 1 to 2 years old, but learning to express yourself verbally is a lifelong learning experience. You can excel in your career and get what you want by mastering the art of talking. 

Many tools are available to improve your speech, whether you’re a native speaker or an English learner. Here are the top 14 science-backed ways to speak better: 

#1 Stay in your zone of genius (only talk about what you know)

You may notice that the most professional-sounding people tend to stay in their zone of genius when speaking publicly. You won’t hear Oprah pretending she’s an expert in electric cars. Nor will you hear Elon Musk advising about spirituality and personal development.

They both stay in their realms of expertise, which naturally makes them sound confident when they speak. They’re not faking it— they know what they’re talking about!

If you struggle to speak with conviction, you may inadvertently talk about topics you don’t know much about. Instead, focus on your zone of genius.

Your zone of genius is the mental space where your skills and interests converge .

It includes the subjects, facts, and stories you know the most about. These things are easy for you to talk about with others because you’re knowledgeable and passionate about them. 

Avoid talking off the cuff about topics you’re not familiar with. Not only does this make you sound uninformed or untrustworthy, but it can send off the message that you are a “know-it-all.” 

Masterful conversationalists are usually not afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Similarly, a public speaker won’t add random facts or opinions that they can’t back up with authentic knowledge on the topic.

Pro tip: Not a master in your subject? No worries! Most people have limited knowledge in a particular field. Try learning from the Three Book Rule, which states that if you read 3 books on a specific topic (for example, tennis), you’ll be more knowledgeable than 99% of the population.

#2 Read books or articles out loud

Reading is one of the most underrated tools for becoming a great speaker. It can make you sound more articulate and smooth in your speech. Plus, you learn new vocabulary and better comprehend the book in the process. 

Unlike conversations or spoken speeches, written text tends to have a better structure for learning, as authors and editors have worked together to keep the text free of grammatical errors or awkward sentences. Reading books aloud helps you learn to speak more smoothly in day-to-day conversations. 

Repeat this exercise at least once per week (or every night before bed if you’re determined):

  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Choose a book you enjoy, flip to a random page, or continue reading where you left off.
  • Read the page out loud from start to end.
  • Take note of words you had trouble pronouncing or sentences that sounded awkward out loud. Notice how fast or slow you read and the tone of your voice. Depending on the character’s speaking, you can also practice changing your voice if you’re reading fiction. This can help you practice vocal variety.
  • Look up the pronunciation of specific words if needed. 
  • Now read the page or passage out loud again. Change your performance based on what you noticed in the first round. Emphasize important points with a shift in volume or inflection (highness or lowness of your voice)  
  • Optionally, use voice memos on your phone to record yourself reading.
  • Listen back to your recordings and find places where your inflection, cadence (the rhythm of speech), and volume change. Do these align with the overall message of the piece? 

If you feel unsure about reading aloud, try listening to audiobook samples to hear how different speakers recite written words. You can also use a free resource like Librivox to listen to free audiobooks or volunteer to read yourself and practice becoming a better speaker.

#3 Use tongue twisters to practice enunciation

Mumbling speech can make it challenging to understand what you’re saying. When people mumble, it sends the message that they don’t want to be heard or feel embarrassed by their speech. On the other hand, people who enunciate their words are seen as more intelligent. 

Eloquent speaking is undoubtedly an art, but it starts with the simple act of training your mouth to move in a certain way. Those silly tongue twisters from your childhood can be surprisingly useful. Repeating related sounds can improve your English speaking skills and articulation of specific words. 

Repeat these 10 times each or until you can say them over and over without fumbling: 

  • Red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather.
  • Sally sells shells by the seashore.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York. 
  • I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. 

Use tongue twisters regularly and as a vocal warm-up before you do a lot of talking. 

Bonus Tip: Learn the Art of Stage Presence

Did you know that public speaking is actually a skill? Many people struggle with stage anxiety because they feel they ‘missed the memo’ on public speaking or they are lacking because they do not have a natural stage presence. Not true!

Stage presence and public speaking are skills you need to be taught—very few people have them naturally. 

Watch our video below to learn the 7 steps to overcome stage fright and beat performance anxiety:

Here are all the aspects of public speaking you can master.

  • How to make a first impression with an audience
  • How to have stage presence
  • Powerful body language
  • How to speak with a commanding voice
  • What to do with your hands while speaking

For every speaking skill you add to your toolbox, the less speaking anxiety you will feel.

If you want help really diving into your presentation skills, be sure to sign-up for our course…

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#4 Talk to yourself

One of the easiest ways to step into your power as a speaker is to start talking to yourself. People often dismiss those who talk to themselves as crazy when, in reality, talking to yourself is entirely normal. 

Scientists have found that talking to yourself is beneficial for enhancing your performance in sports, finding things you lost, and solving problems. A practice called mirror meditation combines neuroscience and self-reflection to overcome insecurities like physical appearance and public speaking. 

You can use self-talk with or without a mirror to achieve two primary goals:

  • Build your confidence : Psychologists say that talking to yourself in a mirror can help externalize your inner dialogue and sort through your thoughts. Speaking positive things to your reflection is a form of positive affirmation. For example, you can calm your nerves before talking to someone important by telling your reflection, “You’ve got this! You are well-spoken, eloquent, and powerful with your words. You’re going to rock this conversation. I love you.” You don’t necessarily have to say these things out loud, but you want to signal to your mind that you are your number one fan (and you should be!).
  • Rehearse before big moments (and sort through your thoughts) : For example, you can rehearse what you’ll say to your boss while you’re driving in the car on your way to work. Don’t worry about acting looking weird—nobody will be able to hear you. Use verbal recitation to gather your thoughts, so you can repeat the key points you want to discuss in the meeting. Similarly, before a big speech, you may want to walk around your room and go over a speech script in your head or out loud. 

Both methods can work synergistically to improve your speaking skills drastically. But the most important thing to remember about self-talk is: Avoid talking to yourself negatively whenever possible , especially before a critical communication event like a meeting, presentation, or important lunch. 

Listen to your internal voice and avoid internal statements like:

  • “You sound stupid.”
  • “I am horrible at public speaking.”
  • “Your voice sounds embarrassing.”
  • “You idiot, get it out already.” 

Replacing negative self-talk takes practice. Replace critical self-talk with positive affirmations ( here are 120 great ones ) and learn more about silencing your inner critic so you can feel more confident in your speech.   

#5 Learn from the best (& mimic them)

Humans are psychologically programmed to mimic each other. Mirror neurons are primal “monkey see, monkey do” parts of our brain that imitate the actions we see in other people. They explain why babies naturally smile when you smile or why you can learn to swim by watching others move in the water. 

Recent research has also revealed how these neurons are critical for learning language and communicating with others. You can even “hack” your mirror neurons to help you become a better speaker. Think about the best speakers you know and try a few of these simple practices to pick up on their best qualities:

  • Watch a video of your favorite speaker three times in a row. Notice their tone of voice, stature, and vocal quirks. Learn a few sentences from the speech and try to re-enact them in a mirror. For example, if you want to mimic the conversational yet profound tone of Denzel Washington, watch this video of his speech at a graduation:

  • Pretend you’re an actor and recite lines from a movie character you like. You can find specific scenes from movies on YouTube. Analyze how the script structure impacts your feelings about that character’s confidence and self-expression.
  • Listen to a podcast of someone you admire and repeat things they say out loud. Podcasters are great speakers because they only have their voice to capture your attention. For example, Rob Dial of The Mindset Mentor is authentic, empowering, and energizing podcaster who speaks directly to the audience’s needs. 

Pro Tip : Speech mimicry helps you learn to speak more confidently in public or on stage, but remember to stay true to your unique qualities. You don’t want to copy other people’s words, or you will be inauthentic. Instead, take note of the specific qualities you want to adopt—such as a deeper voice, a slower pace of speaking, or a particular type of vocabulary—and integrate these into your existing communication style. 

#6 Always remember your MVP

An MVP isn’t just the star of a sports team. It’s the Most Valuable Point you need to make in any communication setting. If everything else you say was forgotten, what is one sentence that gets your point across?

Before you go into a meeting with your team, give a speech, or check in with your boss, think about your MVP. For example,

  • I’m going into this check-in with my boss to ask for a raise of X dollars. 
  • I want to sit down with my significant other tonight and resolve our miscommunication about X. 
  • My main goal for today’s work lunch is to get to know 3 new things about each of my colleagues. 
  • The key purpose of this article is to help people improve their speaking skills in various settings.  

Regardless of the communication setting, an MVP gives purpose to your words. 

Bonus: If you want to sound really convincing, practice turning your MVP into a specific sentence or two. Something like:

  • “My performance in the past 6 months has doubled the company’s revenue, and, as a result, I believe I deserve a higher raise.”
  • “There was a miscommunication earlier, but after some deep thinking, I realize it was my fault, and I am truly sorry.”

Having a concrete sentence or two memorized can help deliver your speech powerfully and convincingly.

#7 Sound more confident by speaking louder and lower

Speaking isn’t only about what you say but how you say it. A 2017 Yale study found that the sound of your voice is what makes people:

  • Believe what you’re saying
  • Feel certain emotions 

Think about it: How do you feel when you hear someone using filler words like “um” or “like” in every sentence? What about someone who talks softly? Or someone who raises their voice at the end of a statement to make it sound like a question?

You probably won’t perceive them as confident in what they’re saying. You may even be less likely to do business with them, believe their story, or give them what they’re asking for. 

There are three keys to sounding more confident when you talk:

  • Speak louder (but don’t yell) : When you feel nervous, you may naturally talk more softly. But this can create a negative feedback loop that makes you sound (and feel) less confident. Instead, make your voice sound stronger by speaking at a moderate volume that you adjust based on the room and audience size. 
  • Speak lower : Research shows that people who speak louder and lower are perceived as more dominant and authoritative. This is particularly important for women who talk in soft, high tones. You don’t need to change your natural voice completely; instead, practice speaking in the lower end of your range. 
  • Talk at a moderately fast pace : If you speak too slowly, you could sound boring. People who drone on in a monotone don’t tend to keep our attention for long. On the other hand, if you speak too fast, you could sound annoying or difficult to understand. Studies have found that people who talk at a moderately fast pace (about 195 words per minute) seem more intelligent, persuasive, and attractive. Measure your voice with a Metronome app for Android or iOS and try to land in the 110-160 word per minute range.

Remember that your optimal vocal volume and pitch may change depending on your audience. Learn more tips about How to Speak with Confidence and Sound Better .  

Watch our video below to learn how to sound confident on the phone with 5 simple steps:

#8 Prepare your voice

Have you noticed your voice sounds groggy in the morning or strained after singing too loud on the drive to work? It’s not the best vocal state for negotiating a business deal or asking for a raise. 

Vocal care isn’t just for singers or public speakers. Proper preparation ensures your voice doesn’t crack when it comes time to speak up in a meeting. To sound better when talking, remember to:

  • Use deep breathing : Shallow chest breathing can make you sound more jittery or nervous when talking. Deep belly breathing exercises can help improve your oxygen levels while simultaneously calming your body. 
  • Exhale first : When it comes time to speak, most people breathe and start their sentences with an inhale. Instead, remember to exhale first. Blow out a strong breath just before you start talking.
  • Stay hydrated : Your voice is directly affected by your level of hydration. Research even finds that hydrated voices sound better . If you are about to speak for an extended period in a speech or meeting, drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to the event.
  • Use our 5 vocal warm-ups in our article and video below:

5 Vocal Warm-Ups Before Meetings, Speeches and Presentations

#9 Start and end with the best points

The serial-position effect explains why people remember the first and last things you say the most clearly. Whether talking to your coworkers about a project or giving a big pitch to a client, you should emphasize the best points at the beginning and the end.  

This is particularly important for presentations, but you can apply it to daily conversations. When preparing to speak, the first thing to do is brainstorm all your key points and ideas. It helps to jot them down on flashcards or digital slides. Arrange them so that the juiciest or most essential points come first. Then, reiterate them at the end as well.

For example, if you’re selling your marketing services to a client, the very first lines of the presentation may emphasize why your agency’s package is the best one available. This is sort of like a thesis. You might start with: “Top Level Agency is a one-stop shop for your marketing needs because we do all web design and digital production in-house (no freelancers or contractors!), offer 24-hour emergency technical support, and monthly payment plans.” 

Then, you can introduce yourself, explain the package offerings, and dig into more details. At the end of the presentation, repeat the key benefits they’ll get from working with your company. 

People remember the beginning and the end ! Avoiding burying your important points in the middle! Many people tell stories chronologically and accidentally bore their audience with background stories and foundational info that leaves a bad first impression. 

Pro Tip: Practice your opening and closing line the most. If you have these, you know you will start and end on a high.

#10 Master the art of presentations with 4 quick tips

From job interviews to congratulatory speeches to workplace meeting presentations, speaking in front of a group of people is a life skill that we all must practice at some point. It’s how you sell yourself, your ideas, or your products and services. Yet over 30% of Americans list public speaking (glossophobia) as one of their biggest fears. Fortunately, overcoming glossophobia can be as simple as preparation and practice. 

Here are four quick tips to transform your presentation skills:  

  • Start with a hook : First impressions are everything! A sparkling one-liner, a fascinating story, or an intriguing question are the easiest ways to capture your audience’s attention before you dig into the details. Notice how Vanessa Van Edwards’ Tedx Talk starts with a funny phrase about her awkwardness: 

  • Cut out excess info : A short presentation packed with information is far better than a long, boring drone full of fluff. Cut down your speech to the basics so that everything supports your main point. Avoid irrelevant facts or boring anecdotes. 
  • Don’t just talk : The most captivating presentations use multiple modalities. Instead of just standing and talking, an engaging presenter will layer on the graphics, charts, videos, and visual demonstrations. 
  • Pretend you’re a performer : In his book, Steal the Show , actor, and coach Michael Port says the quickest way to boost your confidence is to simply act like you’re giving a performance and you don’t have any stage fright. Transform your negative inner talk to something positive by tricking your mind into thinking you’re capable and confident in your speaking skills. 

Pro Tip : If you are planning for a big presentation and fear losing the audience’s attention, consider making your presentation more interactive by inviting the audience to participate. You can use non-awkward icebreakers , “raise your hand” questions or a social media poll on a related topic. 

Some presenters even invite an audience member to the stage for role-playing or a mini-case study. For example, in a meeting presentation about how you plan to improve upselling techniques in your stores, you may invite a coworker to act out a customer-salesperson scenario. 

Want more tips? Take your presentations to the next level with these 10 Presentation Ideas That Will Radically Improve Your Presentation Skills . 

#11 Use meaningful hand gestures

People who “talk with their hands” are naturally more magnetic. Studies show that gestures increase the value of spoken words by up to 60%! But you don’t just want to flail your hands around without purpose. Our analysis of the top TED Talks of all time found that there are specific movements that portray confidence.

These 7 powerful hand gestures include:

  • Show the number : Any time you mention a number, use your fingers to add a visual element of that amount. 
  • Increase or decrease : Spread your hands closer or farther away to demonstrate the intensity of a conversation point. For example, if you say, “this is a small problem,” you may close your hands together to show a small space. 
  • Feel it in the heart : When discussing something emotional, gesture toward your heart or chest region. You may naturally put your hand over your heart when you say, “this means so much to me.”
  • Guide your explanations : Use your hands to give a visual guide to a complex explanation. For example, suppose you’re discussing two opposing viewpoints. In that case, you might gesture to the right for Point 1 and to the left for Point 2.
  • Bring things together : When you discuss the convergence of points or groups, bring your palms together in the center to demonstrate these two things merging. 
  • Emblems : Cultural hand motions like thumbs up, A-OK, or pointing with an open hand can be used to highlight specific talking points. 
  • You-me-we : Bring people into what you’re saying by gesturing towards them, yourself, and then between you. 

Watch this video with Vanessa Van Edwards to see how each gesture works:

Here are another 60 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using and Their Meaning . 

#12 Learn to decode body language (and use it to your advantage)

Have you ever wished you could tell what people are thinking? Decoding body language is an underrated social superpower. If you understand how to tell if your boss is being confrontational or your colleague is withholding information from you, you can have a major communication advantage. 

You’ve probably heard the statistic that 65 to 90% of communication is nonverbal. Unspoken cues often give us more insights into people than what they say out loud. Some of the most notable body language cues to look for include: 

  • Lip pursing : People may be subconsciously holding something back. If you accidentally purse your lips during a speech, it may make you seem to withhold something from the audience. 
  • Raised eyebrows: When someone is guilty, they might subtly raise their eyebrows to show fear. On the other hand, eyebrow raises can also indicate amusement or surprise. Take notice of your eyebrows while talking in the mirror and use them to emphasize your points.
  • Touch : A light touch on the arm can be a thoughtful way to get someone’s attention or help. Combined with speaking in a soft or friendly tone, this can help you appear more kind and more compassionate.
  • Firm handshake : A nice firm handshake can portray you as confident but not domineering. Deliver your handshakes with a well-rehearsed introduction like “I’m Joe. It is a pleasure to meet you.” 
  • Laughing : In awkward situations, subordinates might laugh to appease the person in power, while superiors may refrain from laughing to uphold their status. As you speak, notice when you awkwardly laugh out of nervousness versus when you laugh because something is actually funny.  
  • Sitting versus standing : A sitting person is physically lower than a standing person, making them potentially seem inferior or easier to reprimand. You almost always want to be standing when you are giving a speech or a presentation. On the other hand, sitting while having a tough conversation with your significant other can help create a level playing field for open-hearted discussion. 

Note how you use body language as you talk to others daily. There are so many ways you can combine speaking skills with a specific position or nonverbal cue to portray more confidence, kindness, or influence. Learn more about understanding Body Language In the Workplace: 15 Cues You Must Know . 

#13 Work on pronunciation with this app

Whether you are a native English speaker or learning the English language, countless words in the dictionary aren’t pronounced the way they are spelled. But proper pronunciation can make you sound more knowledgeable and well-spoken. 

The most commonly mispronounced words include:

  • Desert vs. Dessert 
  • Comfortable

Do you think you’re guilty of mispronunciations? Use the free app, Say It ( Android ) ( iOS ) to check your speech. Oxford University Press developed it to help practice sounds, words, and sentence pronunciation. 

Pro Tip : If you accidentally mispronounce a word in conversation or a presentation, don’t be afraid to correct yourself. It happens to everybody, and there is no shame in saying “excuse me” and repeating it. If you have an accent, embrace it! As long as people understand your words, pronunciation shouldn’t be an argument of tomAYto versus tomAHto. 

#14 Improve your listening skills

Paradoxically, the best speakers tend to be the best listeners. After all, communication is a two-way street. Listening is one of the most valuable social skills because it helps you:

  • Understand other people
  • Make deeper connections
  • Demonstrate that you’re interested in what others have to say 
  • Avoid dominating a conversation
  • Learn how to speak better

Listening is particularly important if you feel shy or socially awkward . Next time you’re having a conversation, practice active listening with:

  • Loud listening : When someone else is speaking, strategically use sounds like “oh,” “ah,” or “wow” to show you are engaged.
  • Eye contact : Avoid using your phone or diverting eye contact when someone is talking. Instead, casually hold their gaze for 3-5 seconds to show that you care. But don’t be overbearing with eye contact , or you might appear weird.
  • Asking questions : Show that you were paying attention to another person’s story or presentation by asking questions about what was said. Just be sure you don’t interrupt them or cut anyone off while inquiring.
  • Wait for your turn to talk : A great conversationalist’s most obvious skill is knowing when to talk. Your decision to speak while someone else is still talking could send the message that you think your opinion is more important than theirs. Politely wait your turn and even leave a few seconds of pause after someone else finishes their thoughts. 

Stuttering and Language Processing Resources:

Do you struggle with stuttering or other language processing issues? You definitely can get help! Here are some great resources to check out:

  • The Stuttering Foundation
  • Find a Speech Therapist

Key Takeaways: Speak Better with Planning and Practicing

Nobody is born a masterful speaker, but the most charismatic people have cracked some communication code. Fortunately, the secrets to their verbal success are accessible to everyone. Start speaking better with these simple practices:

  • Talk louder, lower, and at a moderate pace : If you find yourself speaking soft and slow, it can help to increase the volume, lower the tone, and speed up the rate of your words. This will help you sound and feel more confident while talking. 
  • Mimic speakers you admire : Find people you want to sound like and listen to them regularly. Identify the characteristics you want to mimic, like their cheeriness, articulation, or authority. Learn lines from their videos and recite them as you watch.  
  • Read out loud : Written words tend to be more edited than spoken ones. Practice reading your favorite books out loud so you can 
  • Master pronunciation and enunciation : Avoid mispronunciations and mumbling. Instead, use the internet to learn how to pronounce words you’re unsure about and train your mouth to enunciate specific words with tongue twister exercises. 
  • Use hand gestures: Your hands are among the most underrated tools for speaking. Use them to your advantage by emphasizing essential points. 

Whether you’re talking to an audience of 2 or 2,000, public speaking can catapult you to higher levels of self-development and professional success. To take your speaking skills to the next level, learn these 15 Science-Based Public Speaking Tips to Be a Master Speaker . 

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20+ Effective Public Speaking Skills & Techniques to Master

Laura Spencer

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You may think effective public speakers are born that way. You'd be wrong! Public speaking skills can be learned.

Principles of Public Speaking

Most effective public speakers have worked hard to master their craft. That includes effective speaking skills and good public speaking techniques. They may spend hours practicing, working with a coach, or taking speech courses.

The good news is that you can improve your public speaking skills and become an effective speaker. Public speaking techniques can dramatically improve your results. In this tutorial, we've listed over 20 different public speaking techniques that can help you learn how to become an effective speaker.

What Is Public Speaking?

Public speaking occurs when you give a speech before a live audience. It differs from other types of speaking, such as videos, which may be recorded. It's also different from online presentations, which are created and then uploaded to the Internet.

Public speaking gives you many opportunities. That includes improving your confidence level and giving you the opportunity to champion a cause you care about. Plus, having effective public speaking skills can help you find a job. Many jobs, such as an instructor or sales professional, require you to speak in public.

Even when a job doesn't include public speaking in the job description, employers still value  the skill. In one survey, 600 employers said that good communication skills were twice as important as managerial skills . 

Graphic public speaking skills

At this point you may be asking "what makes a good public speaker?" The answer might seem easy: A good public speaker makes use of effective public speaking techniques. What are those effective public speaking techniques? That's what we're going to talk about in the rest of this tutorial.

Before we dive into our discussion of effective public speaking techniques , download our eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations .  It's available for FREE with the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Learn how to write, design, and deliver the perfect presentation. 

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Now, let's look at how you can deliver an awesome presentation by using effective speaking techniques.

20+ Effective Public Speaking Techniques

You can learn to become a more effective speaker by using the right techniques and practicing your public speaking skills. Here are some techniques to follow:

1. Fit the Message to the Audience

Guidelines for effective public speaking often include tips that apply to any situation. But sometimes, it pays to tailor your delivery based on your audience. Matching subject matter and delivery style helps you make the best possible impression. When you know you’re speaking successfully, you’re able to present with more confidence.

Before you speak, plan ahead by considering your target audience. If you’re presenting a research paper to academics, you can plan on a detail-heavy speech. But if you’re introducing a new idea to a casually-interested audience, it’s better to take a broader focus.

Audience guidelines for effective public speaking

Knowledge level is also an important element. Imagine you’re speaking about astronomy to a group of young children. Your message can and should be much different than if you’re addressing a room full of seasoned scientists.

In essence, use your public speaking skills to connect with the audience in front of you. All it takes is a bit of advanced planning. You’ll be on your way to giving an inspiring speech that all can enjoy. 

Learn more about audience analysis as part of tips for effective public speaking below:

what are effective speech skills

2. Be Interactive!

Tips for effective public speaking help you give the best speech possible. Remember what you’re trying to do. You’re informing, inspiring, and engaging your audience. And talking at them isn’t enough. The best public speakers build interactive elements into their speeches. You can too.

Interactivity is one of the key public speaking skills. It can take many forms. It can be as simple as a quick, personal greeting at the start of your speech. Or you can even play interactive games like a trivia quiz. 

This offers many benefits. It keeps audiences alert and engaged. It helps you gauge how well they're following your message. And it takes the heat off of you by adding engagement from others. Sometimes, after all, a break from talking is welcome. It helps you stay focused and on pace.

If you're presenting your speech with PowerPoint, check out our interactive quiz tutorial:

what are effective speech skills

3. Care About Your Topic

Passion goes a long way when it comes to being an effective speaker. The audience can tell if you're apathetic. If you don't care, they won't care either. Even worse, you can come across as a fake.

But if you sincerely care about your topic the audience will pick up on that too. They'll view you as being more authentic and believable. They'll listen more closely to discover why your subject is so important to you. And they're more likely to forgive any minor mistakes you might make.

4. Remember Your Speaking Goal

We've all probably listened to at least one speaker who seemed to go on and on forever about nothing in particular. One reason why this happens is because the speech isn't focused enough. The speaker is trying to cover too much and ends up boring their listeners.

Speech public speaking skills

Early in the process of developing your speech, identify the reason why you're speaking. Make it a point to stick to this goal during your presentation. Don't get sidetracked or off-topic.

5. Support Your Main Points

Every point you make in your speech needs to be supported with either an example, an illustration, or facts. When you're supporting a point, it's best to be as specific as you can be.

For example, in a speech about the importance of clean water this statement is too vague:

 "Many people don't have clean water."

Stating this statistic from the U.S. Center for Disease Control is a more effective way to support your point:

"Worldwide, 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source."

6. Tell a Story

People love a good story. So, if you want to be a more effective speaker, tell a story.

Storytelling is a great way to make your material more engaging and to relate to your audience. Make sure your story is relatable and relevant.

If you're speaking is about your business, here are some examples of stories you may be able to tell:

  • A customer story . The story of how your product or services met a need for a specific customer or solved a problem. Satisfied customers are often happy to share this.
  • Your company story .   The story of how your company came to be. This can be especially effective if it's customer-oriented.
  • A product development story . The story of how you came to offer a new product (or service).

Of course, there are many other types of stories you could tell depending on the type of speaking you're doing.

7. Use a Professional Template

While we're talking about presentation tools, let's also talk about presentation design. Your presentation design affects how your audience perceives you.

Even if you deliver your speech perfectly, your audience might still judge you if your slides are sloppy. The presentation visuals are just as important as your speaking performance.

Elements public speaking skills

Of course, you could use a standard template (the same ones that everyone uses) or design your own template (costly and time-consuming). But a better plan is to use a professionally designed presentation template that you can easily customize.

Guidelines for efffective public speaking

The presentation templates from Envato Elements and GraphicRiver are easy-to-use and professional. And there are hundreds to choose from--so you're bound to find one that meets your needs.

8. Use Presentation Tools Wisely

Slide presentations often get a reputation for being dull. That's because many speakers are unaware of what their presentation tools can do and don't make the best use of all the features. To better engage your audience, learn how to use the more advanced features of your tool.

As an example, here are just a few ways you can use PowerPoint and Google Slides (with links to related tutorials):

  • Add animations ( PowerPoint , Google Slides )
  • Add video ( PowerPoint ,  Google Slides )
  • Add audio ( PowerPoint ,  Google Slides )
  • Construct a timeline ( PowerPoint ,  Google Slides )

And these features are just the tip of the iceberg. To really elevate your public speaking techniques, it helps to know what your software can do. Our tutorial series on Google Slides  and PowerPoint  are a good place to start. 

9. Practice Your Speech

One of the most important public speaking techniques is often one of the most overlooked--practice. If you expect that you'll be an effective speaker without practicing your speech, you'd be wrong. One of the quickest ways to avoid public speaking failure is to try and give a speech you don't really know and haven't practiced.

Rehearsal tips for effective public speaking

The old saying, "practice makes perfect," really is true when it comes to developing effective speaking skills. The more you practice your speech, the more familiar it'll be to you and the more comfortable you'll be giving it. Plus, practicing your speech is the only way to discover how long the speech will take and where you need to pause.

10. Work With a Coach (optional)

If you're really serious about developing effective speaking skills, a speaking coach or teacher can take you to the next level. A coach or teacher can teach you the principles of public speaking and point out mistakes in your public speaking techniques. They give you awareness of tendencies you would otherwise miss.

Worried about cost? You may be able to find reasonably priced public speaking help through one of the following organizations:    

  • Toastmasters International
  • Your local community college
  • Public Speaking Meetup

There may even be more resources close to you.

It's normal to be nervous about public speaking. One study from The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that as many as 77% of us have a fear of public speaking . It's so common there's an actual technical term for fear of public speaking--glossophobia.

I'm not telling you this to make you more anxious, but rather to let you know that having some anxiety before giving a speech is perfectly normal. Still, you should try to relax if you can. You'll be more comfortable, and the audience will relate to you better too.

If there's something that normally calms you down in stressful situations, try using it right before you're due to speak. Popular calming techniques include:

  • positive affirmations
  • aromatherapy

The following tutorials can also help you fight your fear of public speaking:

what are effective speech skills

12. Don't Worry About Mistakes

One of the reasons so many of us fear public speaking is because we're worried that we'll make a mistake and embarrass ourselves in front of everyone. If this is your fear, let it go. Most audiences will understand if you make a mistake. And if it's a small mistake, the audience may not even notice it.

Of course, practice can dramatically reduce the likelihood of you making a mistake. The more you practice the better you'll know your speech--and mistakes will be less likely.

So, what should you do if you do happen to make a mistake? If it's a minor mistake, don't stop or apologize for your mistake as that only calls attention to it. Just continue on. If you make a big mistake, try using humor to diffuse the situation and then continue your speech. Your listeners will be impressed with how gracefully you handled things.

13. Study the Habits of Others

One of the best ways to learn effective public speaking skills is to study the habits of others. There's no reason to learn the art (and science) of public speaking all by yourself.

Consider your favorite orators, lecturers, and presenters. Think about why they're your favorites. Usually, it's their delivery, their stage presence, and their sense of style. If you can't watch them in person, it's a great idea to watch videos of them at work.

It's important to note that tips for effective public speaking vary from person to person. Don't try copying someone else's style. But learn from their habits and incorporate the best into your own method of public speaking. By doing so, you can inspire others in the same ways that have inspired you.

what are effective speech skills

14. Pace Yourself

When it comes to public speaking, a common newbie error is to speak too quickly. This is usually caused by a combination of nerves and not realizing how fast you're actually speaking. But talking too fast makes it harder for your listeners to understand what you're saying.

Effective public speakers know to pace themselves. They'll speak at a natural pace and work short, natural pauses into their speech.

It also helps if you remember to breathe during your speech. A surprising number of people hold their breath without realizing it when they're nervous (I'm one of them).  But holding your breath will only increase your anxiety. So, remember to breathe deeply during the breaks in your speech. If your speech is a long one, taking a sip of water during a break can also help.

15. Add Visual Aids

Visual aids can serve as a powerful illustration of your speech. Humans use their sight more than any other sense. So, if you can make your point by showing it to your listeners rather than describing it, they're more likely to remember it.

Infographic PowerPoint tips for effective public speaking

Be careful though. To be effective, your visual aid must be of high-quality and easily visible to all members of your audience. Avoid incorporating sloppy graphics into a slide presentation. Likewise, don't hold up a visual aid that's physically too small for those listening to see.

Discover professional PowerPoint templates on Envato Elements or GraphicRiver : 

what are effective speech skills

16. Avoid Awkward Fillers

"Um," "uh," "like."

We all slip these filler words into our conversations without even realizing it. But overuse of these words during a professional speech can make you sound less than confident. If you can, break the habit of using these words to become a better public speaker.

Practice can help you cut these words from your speech patterns, but you may be so used to using them that it's hard to notice when you're doing it. This is where a speech coach, teacher, or friend would come in handy. They could listen for these words and help you break the habit of using them.

17. Dress Comfortably, But Professionally

What's the right outfit to wear if you want to be an effective public speaker?

Well, there's no one answer. How you dress depends on who your listeners will be. But the general principle is that you want to dress professionally to make a good impression. Make sure to observe good grooming and hygiene rules too.

Professional dress guidelines for effective public speaking

Many experts feel you should dress according to how your audience dresses. If the audience is dressed formally, you don't want to show up in shorts and a tee shirt. Likewise, if the audience is wearing shorts and a tee shirt, don't dress formally.

18. Use Gestures (But Don't Overdo)

Natural movement during a speech is a sign of an effective public speaker. Hand gestures and moving a few steps across the stage can be good public speaking techniques. Just make sure they're natural, purposeful, and not overdone.

Movement can make you appear more comfortable and help your audience relate to you. You've probably seen the stiff speaker who delivers their speech while standing stock still. Which would you rather listen to:

  • that stiff speaker, awkward speaker
  • or a speaker who punctuates their speech from time to time with meaningful hand gestures

19. Allow a Q&A

Question and answer sessions (Q&A) are one of the most underused public speaking techniques. Many speakers just say what they're going to say and then sit down. What a waste!

The beauty of Q&A is that you get to hear your listeners' concerns directly and address them publicly, further strengthening your case.

Audience QA tips for effective public speaking

You can prepare for a Q&A session by creating your own list of questions and possible objections that audience members may have (with answers). Study the list carefully so that you're familiar with it.

If someone does bring up a point that you hadn't thought of, don't panic. They don't expect you to know everything. It's perfectly acceptable to take their contact information and tell them that you'll get back to them once you've got the answer.

20. Build in Silence to Stay on Track

Guidelines for effective public speaking often leave out a key ingredient: silence. That's right. You don't have to fill every second of your time with spoken words. It's critical to add pauses. This is one of those public speaking skills that doesn't get the credit it deserves.

Silence has many benefits in public speaking:

  • It gives your voice a break. By adding a pause (just three to four seconds), you can catch your breath and stay focused. 
  • It's equally beneficial for your audience. Rushing from point to point without a break will likely cause them to lose focus. Adding in some breathing room helps your speech flow organically.
  • Silence also helps you segue from idea to idea. It offers clear breaks between ideas and adds emphasis. Adding suspense is a sure way to maintain a focused, engaged audience.  

21. Recap at the End

You've delivered your message to an engaged audience. You've presented with confidence and style, and delivered a clear, coherent message. But you may still wonder: "are they really going to remember what I said?"

This is a key thing to consider as you close out your speech. Last - but not least - on our list of public speaking skills is the recap at the end. You should wrap up your speech by quickly recapping your key points. 

This may take only a few moments. Remember, you're not repeating yourself word for word. You're revisiting your main ideas in summary form. This helps you close on a high note. Your audience will once again hear the details that you find most important. This way, they can carry those ideas with them, long after you're finished speaking. 

what are effective speech skills

More Templates to Supplement Your Public Speaking Skills

This article has given you more guidelines for effective public speaking. The best resource you can use is pre-built presentation templates. Those have the blueprint for great slides that make creating a presentation as easy as filling in placeholders.

On Envato Tuts+, we're always in search of the best templates. These go hand-in-hand with our tips for effective public speaking. Check them out below, and you're sure to find great designs for you.

what are effective speech skills

More Resources on Effective Public Speaking

If you're ready to learn more about developing effective speaking skills, we've got many tutorials on public speaking that can help:

what are effective speech skills

Download Our Free PDF eBook on Making Great Presentations

We've got the perfect complement to this tutorial, that'll help you take your presentation know-how further. Learn how to write, design, and deliver great presentations. 

Download  The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations for FREE with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Get your ideas formed into a powerful presentation that'll move your audience. 

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You Just Learned Top Tips For Effective Public Speaking

Editorial Note : This content was originally published in 2018. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant. This post has been updated with contributions from Andrew Childress .

Laura Spencer

what are effective speech skills

16 Practical Tips To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

  • Nathan Mixon
  • June 9, 2024

Table of Contents

How to improve public speaking.

Hey there, fellow public speaker! Ready to level up your public speaking game? Trying to become a better speaker? Whether you’re aiming for that big promotion, nailing that TEDx talk, or just looking to impress at your next social gathering, mastering the art of public speaking is key. It’s not just about talking; the best speakers focus on connecting, inspiring, and leaving a lasting impression.

Public speaking isn’t just a skill; it’s a superpower that can transform how you communicate and connect with others. Whether you’re addressing a small group or a packed auditorium, the ability to articulate your ideas with confidence and charisma can open doors and create opportunities you never thought possible. So, if you’re ready to learn how to improve public speaking, buckle up and get ready for an exciting journey of growth and self-discovery!

In this guide, we’re diving deep into the question of how to improve public speaking and arm you with practical public speaking skills, tips, and techniques to boost your confidence and captivate any audience. From shaking off those pre-speech jitters to crafting compelling messages and delivering them with flair, we here at The Speaker Lab have got you covered. So, grab your favorite mug of coffee (or tea, if you’re like me – no judgment here), kick back, and let’s get into ways to improve your public speaking and advance your career as a better public speaker.

Overcoming Anxiety and Building Confidence

We get it, speaking in public can be scary. As many of you probably know, in public speaking anxiety is a common fear that can significantly impact performance. The thought of standing in front of a live audience, being the center of attention, and delivering a coherent message can trigger feelings of nervousness and self-doubt, even if you’re confident in the value of your message. However, there are effective techniques for managing anxiety and building confidence, allowing speakers to deliver engaging presentations with poise and clarity.

It’s important to acknowledge that public speaking anxiety is a natural response to the perceived threat of judgment or scrutiny from others. It’s normal to feel nervous before a big speech. This fear can manifest in physical symptoms and physiological reactions such as making your palms sweat (you thought Eminem was lying?), increasing your heartbeat, and giving you a shaky voice, all of which can undermine your performance as a good public speaker. By recognizing and accepting this feeling as a common experience, speakers can begin to address it with constructive strategies.

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3 Techniques for Managing Anxiety and Building Confidence

1. deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques.

One of the most immediate ways to calm nerves before speaking is through deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques. By focusing on slow, deep breaths, speakers can activate the body’s relaxation response, reducing feelings of tension and stress. Incorporating mindfulness practices, such as grounding oneself in the present moment and observing thoughts without judgment, can further alleviate anxiety, steady your trembling hands, and enhance focus.

2. Visualization and Positive Affirmations

Visualization involves mentally rehearsing a successful speaking scenario, envisioning oneself delivering a confident and engaging presentation. By visualizing positive outcomes, speakers can reinforce their belief in their ability to perform well. Additionally, incorporating positive affirmations—such as “I am confident and capable”—can help to reframe negative self-talk and cultivate a more empowering mindset (even if you think it’s corny).

3. Gradual Exposure to Public Speaking

Like any skill, public speaking flourishes with practice. Beginning with practice sessions and small group settings provides a safe environment for speakers to hone their abilities and build confidence gradually. As speakers become more comfortable, they can progress to larger audiences or more challenging speaking engagements. Toastmasters clubs, community events, and volunteer opportunities offer valuable platforms for gaining experience and refining presentation skills. Practicing public speaking is so important when it comes to building more confidence.

Additionally, participating in workshops, seminars, or conferences provides exposure to diverse audiences and topics, further enhancing speaking proficiency. By embracing opportunities to speak in various settings, individuals can conquer their fear of public speaking and cultivate greater self-assurance over time. Not only does this help you address your anxiety as you hone your public speaking skills, but it also provides opportunities to receive constructive feedback from any other seasoned public speaker who may be in attendance.

By implementing these techniques for managing anxiety and working to gain confidence, speakers can overcome the common fear of public speaking and unlock their full potential as effective communicators. With practice and perseverance, they can cultivate the skills and mindset needed to deliver compelling presentations with confidence and impact.

Mastering Body Language and Nonverbal Communication

Body language plays a crucial role in public speaking, influencing how speakers are perceived by their audience and conveying confidence, credibility, and engagement. By mastering body language and nonverbal communication skills, speakers can enhance their presence on stage and deliver more impactful presentations.

Effective communication is about more than just words—it’s also about how those words are delivered. Research suggests that a significant portion of communication is nonverbal, with body language accounting for a substantial part of the message conveyed – the way you stand, sit, walk, and hold your arms and hands all have an impact on how you and your message is received.

When speakers lack confidence and look uncomfortable, they lose much of their sense of authority or expertise. But when speakers project confidence and authenticity through their body language, they establish rapport with their audience and capture their attention more effectively.

3 Public Speaking Tips for Improving Body Language

1. maintain good posture.

Good posture serves as the cornerstone of confident body language. When individuals stand tall, with shoulders back and heads held high, they project an image of strength and assurance. This posture not only exudes professionalism and authority but also facilitates better breath support and vocal projection, very important aspects of public speaking. Slouching or hunching over can undermine confidence and diminish credibility. By prioritizing good posture, speakers establish a strong foundation for effective communication, captivating their audience with a commanding presence.

2. Make Eye Contact

Eye contact is another powerful tool for connecting with the audience and establishing credibility. By maintaining eye contact with individual audience members, speakers create a sense of intimacy and engagement. It’s essential to scan the room and make eye contact with different sections of the audience, ensuring that everyone feels included and valued.

If the idea of looking straight into an individual audience member’s eyes seems daunting, a helpful trick for making eye contact without focusing on specific individuals is to look at the general area around their eyes or eyebrows. This gives the appearance of eye contact without the pressure of locking eyes with someone directly. You can also just scan the audience, moving your gaze across different sections of the room, which creates the impression of engagement with the entire audience without singling out individuals. Just remember to maintain a natural pace and avoid fixating on any particular spot for too long to ensure a balanced connection with your audience.

3. Use Gestures and Facial Expressions

Gestures and facial expressions can help to reinforce verbal messages and convey enthusiasm and conviction. Using hand gestures to emphasize key points and illustrate concepts adds dynamism to the presentation and keeps the audience engaged. Similarly, facial expressions convey emotions and sincerity, allowing speakers to express empathy, excitement, or concern as appropriate. Let the audience have a clear understanding of your emotions as you speak – this will help them empathize more with your message.

By incorporating these tips for improving body language into their presentations, speakers can enhance their ability to connect with their audience and deliver messages with clarity and impact. With practice and mindfulness, speakers can harness the power of body language to captivate their audience and leave a lasting impression.

Enhancing Vocal Delivery and Articulation

Vocal delivery is a cornerstone of effective public speaking, as it plays a crucial role in capturing audience attention and conveying authority. Speakers who master vocal delivery techniques can engage their audience more effectively and leave a lasting impression.

The way a message is delivered is just as important as the message itself. Vocal delivery encompasses elements such as tone, pitch, volume, and rhythm, all of which contribute to the overall impact of a presentation. A strong vocal delivery commands attention, instills confidence in the speaker, and enhances the audience’s understanding and retention of key points.

3 Techniques for Improving Vocal Delivery

1. practice vocal warm-up exercises.

Just as athletes engage in warm-up routines to prime their bodies for peak performance, speakers can similarly enhance their vocal prowess through targeted exercises. Vocal warm-ups serve as the foundation for clear and commanding speech delivery. Humming exercises, for instance, gently engage the vocal cords while promoting resonance and clarity in speech. Lip trills, where speakers produce a vibrating sound by blowing air through slightly pursed lips, aid in relaxing the vocal apparatus and improving breath control. Tongue twisters serve as playful yet effective tools for sharpening articulation and enunciation.

By using these vocal warm-up exercises, speakers can cultivate a strong and dynamic voice that captivates and inspires their listeners.

2. Pay Attention to Pace and Rhythm

Think of your speech pace like a roller coaster ride: you want to keep your audience on their toes, not lulling them into boredom. Varying your speed and rhythm adds excitement and keeps listeners engaged throughout your talk. Don’t be afraid to hit the brakes with well-placed pauses—they create suspense, give your audience time to digest important information, and make your key points pop. By really mastering the art of pacing, you’ll keep your audience hanging on your every word from start to finish.

3. Focus on Articulation and Pronunciation

In public speaking, the efficacy of communication is intricately tied to the speaker’s ability to articulate and pronounce words clearly. Each consonant and vowel carries significance, especially within the context of essential terms central to the speaker’s discourse. Through consistent practice of exercises like tongue twisters and deliberate focus on the intricate movements of the mouth, speakers can refine their articulation. This diligent attention to detail ensures that their ideas are not only effectively conveyed but also readily understood by their audience’s attention.

By incorporating these techniques into their vocal delivery, speakers can enhance their ability to captivate and persuade their audience. With practice and mindfulness, speakers can develop a vocal delivery style that commands attention, conveys authority, and leaves a lasting impact on their audience.

Structuring and Delivering Engaging Speeches

Effective speech structure is essential for delivering a compelling message that resonates with your audience. A well-structured speech not only captures attention but also enhances comprehension and retention of key ideas.

The structure of a speech serves as its foundation, guiding the flow of information and ensuring coherence and clarity. A well-structured speech enables the speaker to communicate their message effectively, maintain audience engagement, and leave a lasting impression. Without a clear structure, the audience may struggle to follow your train of thought – the last thing you want is an audience that is confused or lost.

3 Tips for Structuring Speeches

1. start with a strong opening.

Picture this: you’re gearing up for a speech, right? Well, the opening is like the big entrance – it’s your chance to grab everyone’s attention and set the vibe for what’s to come. So, how do you do it? With a killer hook. Throw out a mind-bending question, hit the audience with a jaw-dropping stat, or reel them in with a story that’ll have them on the edge of their seats. Trust me, a strong opening is like the spark that ignites the whole speech, keeping your audience hooked and hungry for more.

2. Organize Content Logically

When crafting your speech, think of it as building a roadmap for your audience. Start with a warm introduction to welcome them into your world of ideas. Then, lead them through the main points of your talk, each one seamlessly flowing into the next like stepping stones across a stream. Make sure your points are organized logically, so your audience can easily follow along without getting lost in the shuffle. Remember, clarity is key!

Finally, wrap up with a solid conclusion that ties everything together, leaving your listeners with a clear understanding of your message. If your audience is walking out of your talk knowing (and hopefully remembering) exactly what the main points were that you were trying to get across, then mission accomplished.

3. Incorporate Storytelling and Anecdotes

Think of stories and anecdotes as the secret sauce that adds flavor to your speech. Sprinkle them throughout your presentation to create moments that stick in your audience’s minds long after your talk is over. Whether it’s a personal anecdote, a compelling case study, or a relatable story, these narrative gems bring your ideas to life and forge a deeper connection with your audience. By weaving personal stories into your speech, you transform abstract concepts into tangible experiences with a direct connection that resonate with your listeners on a human level in their everyday life.

Another important way to make your audience feel comfortable is to use personal experience. Personal anecdotes and stories that can help nail down important points make for a better speech. The best speakers use examples from their lives or the life of another person to help make their point for relatable. You want your audience members to be pushed out of their comfort zone but also to be able to relate to what you’re saying as it might happen in one’s daily life.

By following these tips for structuring and delivering engaging speeches, speakers can effectively communicate their message, captivate their audience, and leave a lasting impact. A well-structured speech not only informs and educates but also inspires and motivates, leaving the audience with a sense of clarity and purpose.

Refining Message Content and Delivery

Crafting a message that truly connects with your audience demands meticulous attention to both content and delivery. By honing these aspects, speakers can captivate their audience and ensure their message is communicated with clarity and resonance.

2 Strategies for Refining Message Content

1. conduct audience analysis.

Before stepping onto the stage, take the time to lean into your audience’s interests, preferences, and needs. Do some in-depth audience analysis, examining their demographics, knowledge level, and pressing concerns. Tailoring your message and making a point to identify areas of concern or importance to resonate with their specific interests and challenges not only builds rapport but also enhances credibility, ensuring your message hits home with maximum impact. Give your speech a personal touch for your audience by doing the research beforehand.

2. Use Persuasive Language and Rhetorical Devices

Incorporating persuasive language and rhetorical devices when making speeches elevates the impact of your message by shaping audience perception and eliciting emotional responses. Integrate storytelling, vivid imagery, metaphors, and analogies to convey intricate concepts in a captivating and relatable manner. By appealing to both the audience’s emotions and logic, speakers can effectively sway their perspective and inspire them to take meaningful action.

2 Strategies for Refining Delivery

1. practice emphasizing key points.

Delivery is paramount in molding an audience’s perception and sustaining its engagement. Prioritize practicing your speech delivery beforehand (a lot), focusing on pacing, intonation, and emphasizing key points. Strategic pauses permit the audience to absorb information and contemplate essential ideas. By diversifying tone and volume, speakers can uphold audience interest while conveying enthusiasm and conviction.

Try practicing in front of a mirror with a timer and then maybe with a friend or a spouse or a parent – anyone willing to listen to your speech. That can help you become comfortable with the cadence and pace of your speaking.

2. Focus on Pacing and Intonation

It’s crucial to keep an eye on pacing and intonation to keep your audience engaged and ensure your message comes across effectively. Tailor the speed of your delivery to match the complexity of your content and the audience’s grasp of the topic. Intonation adds depth to your speech by conveying emotions, highlighting key points, and infusing your delivery with energy and dynamism. By mastering these elements, you can create a captivating and impactful presentation that resonates with your audience.

By implementing these strategies for refining message content and delivery, speakers can maximize the impact of their speeches and effectively engage their audience. By tailoring the message to the audience’s interests and needs and delivering it with confidence and conviction, speakers can inspire, inform, and motivate their audience to action.

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Developing effective public speaking skills is a journey that requires dedication, practice, and continuous improvement. Throughout this guide, we’ve explored key strategies for enhancing your public speaking abilities, from overcoming anxiety to refining message content.

By acknowledging and addressing common fears and anxieties associated with public speaking, you can build confidence and resilience. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, visualization, and gradual exposure can help you manage nerves and perform at your best. Practicing in smaller groups and settings can help you release some nervous energy, receive constructive criticism and honest feedback, and get some more public speaking tips .

Mastering body language and nonverbal communication is essential for conveying confidence and engaging your audience. By maintaining good posture, making eye contact, and using gestures and facial expressions effectively, you can establish rapport and credibility with your audience.

Enhancing vocal delivery and articulation is another critical aspect of effective public speaking. By practicing vocal warm-up exercises, paying attention to pace and rhythm, and focusing on articulation and pronunciation, you can ensure clear communication and captivate your audience’s attention.

Structuring and delivering engaging speeches requires careful planning and organization. Starting with a strong opening, organizing content logically, and incorporating storytelling and anecdotes can make your speech memorable and impactful.

Finally, refining message content and delivery involves conducting audience analysis, using persuasive language and rhetorical devices, and practicing emphasizing key points. By tailoring your message to the audience’s interests and needs and delivering it with confidence and conviction, you can inspire, inform, and motivate your audience to action.

As you continue on your public speaking journey, remember to embrace opportunities for growth and practice regularly. With dedication and perseverance, you can cultivate valuable public speaking skills that will serve you well in both your personal and professional endeavors.

So, seize every opportunity to speak publicly, embrace the challenges, and strive for improvement. With each speech you deliver, you’ll become more confident, articulate, and influential. Embrace public speaking as a valuable skill for personal and professional success, and let your voice be heard.

  • Last Updated: June 4, 2024

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Speaking effectively is defined as speaking in such a way that your message is clearly heard and, if possible, acted upon. There are two main elements to speaking effectively: what you say, and how you say it.

What you say means your choice of words. The words you might use when chatting to a friend are likely to be quite different from those used in a formal presentation or interview.

Similarly, the way that you speak will also vary in different situations. However, there are also likely to be some common factors: for example, whether you naturally talk quietly or loudly, and how you use body language.

This page discusses aspects of effective speaking. It also suggests ways in which you can become a more effective speaker.

Aspects of Effective Speaking

Effective speaking means being able to say what you want to say in such a way that it is heard and acted upon.

Whether you are talking to a major conference about a new scientific discovery, your children about their behaviour, or your boss about a pay rise, you need to be able to speak effectively. This means considering every possible tool and aspect to ensure that nothing distracts or detracts from your message.

There are three main elements of effective speaking

  • The words you use.
  • Your voice.
  • Your other non-verbal communication, particularly body language.

Choosing Your Words

What you say—the words you choose—matters.

If in doubt about your meaning, your audience will come back to the words that you used and double-check what you might have meant. It is therefore important to choose carefully, especially when you are saying something important. Things to consider include:

Your audience . The words you choose will be different if you are talking to 200 people at a conference, a trusted colleague, your boss, or your children. You need to think about your audience’s overall level of understanding of the subject, and also the type of language that you use.

Shorter sentences are easier to process and understand. Using shorter sentences also creates urgency.

Simpler words are also easier to understand. If you cannot explain something in simple terms, you have probably not understood it yourself. This is particularly important if your audience are not all native speakers of the language.

Regional and ethnic accents are part of individual personality and add a unique element to the way that you speak.

They may also, however, in some situations, create potential barriers to communication. For example, if you have a very strong accent, people from another area or country may find it harder to understand what you are saying. You may therefore need to slow down your speech to ensure that they have time to process what you are saying.

It is worth remembering, however, that words are only a part of your overall communication and message. The tone of voice and your body language also send strong messages.

Your voice can reveal as much about your personal history as your appearance. The sound of a voice and the content of speech can provide clues to an individual's emotional state.

For instance, if self-esteem is low, it may be reflected by hesitancy in the voice. A shy person may speak quietly, but someone who is confident in themselves will be more likely to have command of their voice and clarity of speech.

It is worth taking time to improve your command over your voice, especially if you find it hard to speak in public. It can even help to boost your confidence!

It is important to get used to the sound of your own voice. Most people are more relaxed in a private situation, particularly at home, where there are no pressures to conform to any other social rules and expectations. This is not the case in public situations when there are all sorts of influences exerted upon the way people speak.

An exercise to improve public speaking

Try recording your own voice in an informal setting, such as at home.

Listen carefully to how you sound. This will help you become accustomed to your own voice.

You might also note any aspects of your speech which reduce the overall effectiveness of your message. This might include a tendency to say ‘um’ or ‘er’ a lot, to slur one or more letters together, or stammer slightly.

Often people don’t like the sound of their own recorded voice - in the same way that some people don't like photographs of themselves - they can feel embarrassed.

Most of us are not used to hearing our own voices and these feelings are totally normal. Get past the initial, ‘ Do I really sound like that? ’ stage and develop a better understanding of your voice.

The more you get used to the sound of your voice functioning in a slightly more formal way, the easier it is when doing it 'for real'. In conversational mode, individuals tend to speak in short phrases, a few at a time. Speaking or reading aloud helps you to become used to the more fluent sound of your voice.

An exercise to help develop your effective speaking skills:

Find a document to read, something about two pages in length - the first few pages of a book would work well.

Read your document through silently first, then read it aloud in your normal speaking voice.  Don't worry if you stumble or falter, just pick up and continue to the end.

Now read it a third time, recording your voice if possible and remember:

  • Slow down: It is a natural reaction to want to get it over as fast as possible and this often causes people to stumble over their words. Speeding up also occurs when you are nervous and usually makes you more difficult to understand.
  • Keep your head up:  Try not to tuck your chin into the book as your voice is then addressing the floor. Hold your book higher and project your voice.
  • Pause occasionally: Let the end of a sentence or the end of a paragraph give you a chance of a small, two or three second rest. Pauses can be useful for emphasis.

Practise this exercise as often as you can.

Anyone can improve the sound of their voice and the way they speak in a matter of days through a few simple exercises, like the one above. To improve you will need to maintain a certain commitment and practice regularly for a few minutes.

The Effect of Breath on Voice and Speech

The voice is responsive to emotions and sometimes gets ' blocked ', which can prevent or hinder the expression of a range of feelings.

When under stress an individual's breathing pattern will change. When your muscles are tense you cannot use your lungs to their full capacity. When someone is frightened or nervous, a common symptom is tension in the neck and shoulders. This occurs because, when under pressure, we tend to breath faster. This means we inhale plenty of air, but there is not enough time to exhale fully and relax, so we do not get the full benefit.

Good breathing is essential for two reasons:

By using full lung capacity the breath will support the voice and the voice will become richer, fuller and stronger.

This will benefit individuals who have a small voice and who worry that they cannot be heard when speaking to a group of people. Volume is controlled in the abdomen not in the throat, so breathing to full strength will allow for greater control of the voice.

Breathing deeply and rhythmically has a calming and therapeutic effect as it releases tension and promotes relaxation. People who are relaxed are more balanced, receptive and confident.

It is no coincidence that many religions use rhythmic breathing techniques such as meditation, yoga and silent contemplation, and vocal release in the form of chants, mantras or hymn singing as aids to their devotions. By easing physical tension, mental stress decreases and the mind is effectively freed to follow creative pursuits.

Breathing Exercise

Stand in an easy position with your feet one pace apart, with the knees ‘unlocked’ and not rigidly pushed back. Keep your spine straight, head balanced and face muscles relaxed.

Breathe in to a slow count of three, then out to a slow count of three.

Try not to raise your shoulders as you breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Consciously think of your breath 'filling down' to the bottom of your lungs.

Put the palm of your hand flat against your abdomen and feel the movement. Push slightly against your hand as you breathe in and out.

Repeat this exercise ten times.

Depending on how you feel after several days of doing this exercise, extend the count of the out-going breath from three to four, five and six gradually building up to ten before you need to take another breath. Then count out loud on the out-going breath from one to ten. Repeat five times.

By building up your control of out-going breath, you will never sound ‘breathy’ or feel you are 'running out of breath’ when you speak to a group or a meeting.

See our Relaxation Techniques section for more on breathing and relaxing.

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Vocal Production

The following three core elements of vocal production need to be understood for anyone wishing to become an effective speaker:

  • Volume   -  to be heard.
  • Clarity  - to be understood.
  • Variety  - to add interest.

This is not a question of treating the voice like the volume control on the TV remote. Some people have naturally soft voices and physically cannot bellow. Additionally, if the voice is raised too much, tonal quality is lost. Instead of raising the voice, it should be ' projected out '. Support the voice with lots of breath - the further you want to project the voice out, the more breath you need. It also needs to come from the diaphragm, not the throat.

When talking to a group or meeting, it is important not to aim your talk to the front row or just to the people nearest you. Instead, you need to consciously project what you have to say to those furthest away. By developing a  strong voice,  as opposed to a loud voice, you will be seen as someone positive.

Some people tend to speak through clenched teeth and with little movement of their lips. It is this inability to open mouths and failure to make speech sounds with precision that is the root cause of inaudibility. The sound is locked into the mouth and not let out.

To have good articulation it is important to unclench the jaw, open the mouth and give full benefit to each sound you make, paying particular attention to the ends of words. This will also help your audience as a certain amount of lip-reading will be possible.

To make speech effective and interesting, certain techniques can be applied. However, it is important not to sound false or as if you are giving a performance. Words convey meaning, but the way that they are said reflects feelings and emotions. Vocal variety can be achieved by variations in:

Pace: This is the speed at which you talk. If speech is too fast, then listeners will not have time to assimilate what is being said. It is also a good idea to vary the pace - quickening up at times and then slowing down – because this will help to maintain interest.

Volume:  By raising or lowering volume occasionally, you can create emphasis. If you drop your voice to almost a whisper (as long as it is projected) for a sentence or two, it will make your audience suddenly alert. Be careful not to overuse this technique, though, or it will lose its impact.

Pitch - Inflection - Emphasis:  When speaking in public, try to convey the information with as much vocal energy and enthusiasm as possible. This does not mean your voice has to swoop and dive all over the place in an uncontrolled manner. Try to make the talk interesting. Remember that when you are nervous or excited, your vocal chords tense and shorten, causing the voice to get higher. Emphasise certain words and phrases within the talk to convey their importance and help to add variety.

Pause:  Pauses are powerful. They can be used for effect to highlight the preceding statement or to gain attention before an important message. Pauses mean silence for a few seconds. Listeners interpret meaning during pauses so have the courage to stay silent for up to five seconds – dramatic pauses like this convey authority and confidence.

Warm up your voice

Before any important speaking situation, whether it is an appointment, meeting or talk, it is beneficial to have a voice warm-up.

The voice is an instrument - no musician arrives at a concert hall and launches into Beethoven without first tuning up.  The length of time and frequency of a warm-up is up to you and will depend on how much speaking you need to do.

There is more about using your voice effectively on our page non-verbal communication: face and voice .

A considerably amount of communication—some estimates suggest over 50%—is non-verbal. Tone of voice, pace and emphasis are all part of non-verbal communication.

However, your body language is also important. This includes how you stand, your facial expressions, the way you use your hands to emphasise your speech, and even whether and with whom you make eye contact.

There is more about how to use body language to communicate effectively in our page on Body Language . This includes considering how far away you are from your audience, and therefore whether you need to exaggerate your gestures to make them clearer.

The importance of congruence

Perhaps the most important aspect of effective communication is congruence .

For communication to be effective, your non-verbal communication needs to reinforce your words: the two must say the same thing. Non-verbal communication is much harder to disguise than verbal—if you see that someone’s body language is giving a different message from their words, it pays to listen to the non-verbal communication first as it is more likely to reflect their real views.

You may therefore need to put some thought into how you want to use body language and other non-verbal cues. This is particularly important if you are trying to get across a difficult or unwelcome message.

Continue to: Conversational Skills Verbal Communication Skills

See also: Networking Skills The Art of Tact and Diplomacy 7 Qualities of Good Speakers That Can Help You Be More Successful


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by David JP Phillips • November 16, 2021

what are effective speech skills

Public speaking is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences that many of us face in our daily lives (although it’s dropped off the list of Americans’ biggest fears in recent years, replaced by more immediate threats like … sharks ?).

Part of our fear is about what we’re going to say, but the other part is about how we’re going to say it, according to communications expert David JP Phillips (TEDxZagreb Talk: The 110 techniques of communication and public speaking ). Phillips has spent years analyzing 5,000 public speakers to identify what moves work — and which ones don’t — when talking to an audience.

When we think of body language, many of us immediately think about hand and arm gestures. But body language is so much more than that — and it’s also something that we should all get comfortable with. By making small, easy tweaks to how we stand, move or even smile, we can help hold an audience’s attention. While Phillips has an entire 110-step system to public speaking, there’s no way or need to master them before your next presentation. Here, he shares 7 body-language tips that anyone can use.

Lean towards your audience

“Taking a step back indicates that you are threatened and makes your audience feel less relaxed,” says Phillips, who is based in Sweden. “Whenever we are threatened, we tend to close our body language, tense our muscles, and take a step back.” Crossing your arms is another move to avoid — it’s something else that people do when they’re nervous or scared and it puts those watching us on the defensive. So keep your arms open, and lean towards your audience. Make sure your head is inclined too; tilting your head backwards signals to your listeners that you feel superior to them.

Match your gestures to your words

Phillips’ rule of thumb when it comes to hand gestures: Make them functional (they should always have a purpose) and make sure they match your message. “The core of all communication is to make your message as clear as possible,” Phillips notes. If you’re talking about sales figures going up, that’s a good time to use a gentle, rising motion. If you’re setting two rhetorical options out for your audience to consider, place your hands on either side as if you’re weighing items in your palms. Humans are visual creatures, and movement will arouse an audience’s attention. But do not abuse this tendency. “If a person is using non-functional gestures, they can become annoying very quickly,” explains Phillips. “Functional gestures, however, are rarely used too much.”

Give your hands a rest

Most of us struggle mightily with what to do with our hands while talking. Put them in our pockets? (No, says Phillips: Too closed off.) Clasp them behind our back? (Nope: Domineering and overly formal.) Phillips has a whole lexicon of poses not to do with one’s hands, such as the “the prayer” (hands clasped in front) and “the beggar” (hands in front, palms up). And then there’s “the peacock”: hands on hips with elbows flapping loosely at your sides. “You often see this one being used by people who are nervous and who desire to quickly become ‘bigger’ in front of their opponent,” he explains. Phillips’s recommendation: “Leave your hands by your sides when you’re not using them.”

Tilt your head

Some of the ways that humans communicate nonverbally are pretty hardwired in us, says Phillips. One of these nonverbal signals is something you probably do all the time without realizing: When you’re trying to show empathy, you tilt your head to one side. “Good listeners are head tilters,” Phillips says. The same empathy signals work — even when you’re the one doing the talking.

Smile like you mean it

One of the most important things that a public speaker can do is deliver a Duchenne smile — the kind of genuine grin that fills your face and reaches your eyes. People respond more warmly to a Duchenne smile. “It will help make the audience more at ease and relaxed. And if they are at ease and relaxed, you’ll become more that way too and you’ve created a positive spiral, making you deliver your talk better. Also, adds Phillips, “as our emotions work from the inside out and the outside in, it means that you can affect your own emotional state in a positive way by smiling on stage.” No need to fake it — just bring to mind a person, place or animal that you know automatically brings a Duchenne smile to your face.

When you slip up, don’t panic

We’ve all had that moment: We practiced our speech until we could recite it in our sleep, but suddenly we can’t remember what comes next. The best way to recover, according to Phillips, is to act like you’re not panicking. “Avoid reacting on your fear,” he says. “Your body will want to tense up, reverse, hide in a corner, but all that just makes you feel less confident.” Instead, he suggests, “lean forward, open up your posture, breathe deep and slow, talk slowly, pause, and smile a Duchenne smile. All of those in combination will make you feel more comfortable.”

Practice — even when you’re not in front of a crowd

One of Phillips’ favorite mottos when it comes to body language is: “It’s a skill, not a talent.” He believes that anyone can become a great public speaker, even the most awkward and nervous of us. He says that a good first step is to simply become more tuned in to your everyday body language. Learn what gestures you tend to use to get your point across. Once you’ve gotten familiar with your existing body language vocabulary, you can start changing it and expanding it. “My most practical tip is to pick one to three skills and practice them every day until they become part of your natural way of communicating.”

This post was originally published on TED Ideas . It’s part of the “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from someone in the TED community; browse through all the posts here .

© 2024 TED Conferences, LLC. All rights reserved. Please note that the TED Talks Usage policy does not apply to this content and is not subject to our creative commons license.

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Professional Skills

  • Nov 8, 2023
  • 14 min read

25 Helpful Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

Keep your audience engaged.

Joanna Zambas

Joanna Zambas

Content Manager and Career Expert

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

A man demonstrating his public speaking skills

Your knees turn to jelly as you take centerstage. Your hands tremble as you prepare your slides. You suddenly have a lump in your throat, and your heart has sunk to your stomach. The time you have been anticipating has finally come, but you’ve suddenly forgotten everything you were intending to say.

Does all this sound familiar? The fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia, is extremely common, with some 72–75% of the population suffering from it according to research .

Despite being common, however, glossophobia is also “treatable”. In this article, we’ll go over 25 tips that can help in developing your public speaking skills so that you can deliver your next speech with more confidence and less fear!

The importance of good public speaking skills

Being able to stand in front of an audience and share your original ideas and personal stories can be incredibly empowering. The better you become at it, the less you’ll be phased by talking to people who may hold opposing views to you (on and off stage!), and the likelier you’ll be to influence others to consider your point of view.

In the workplace, having a way with words can decrease unnecessary conflict, improve your ability to negotiate and help you be seen as a confident decision maker. All these are crucial, especially when you’re in a leadership position or aspire to move up the ladder to a leadership role .

What makes a great public speaker?

Can you recall a speech you’ve heard that you found inspiring? Part of its being memorable must have had to do with the speaker’s charisma. But what does said “charisma” actually consist of?

Charismatic speakers are ones that can convey their ideas confidently. They’re not afraid to share their own experiences and opinions, even on controversial matters. Not only do they have the backbone to defend what they believe in, but they’ve also got the knowledge to back up what they’re saying.


Often, great speeches are ones that have the audience thinking: “Oh — I had never really thought of it like that!”

It takes courage to step out in front of an audience and share your unique point of view compared to just recycling and churning out overused tropes: you’re giving the listener a glimpse into your inner world, which can leave you feeling vulnerable. This honesty is essential in establishing a connection with the audience, however.

If you’re the type of person who likes to read a lot, then you’ll have come across similar ideas many times. So, for a speech to move you, it needs to present “old” (or frequently talked about) information in new ways. And it takes creative thinking to achieve that!

Creativity will also allow a speaker to translate complex theories into easy-to-follow notions.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to skills and abilities like emotional regulation and self-awareness, both of which are needed to become a successful public speaker. Emotional regulation allows speakers to stay on top of their emotions and deliver great speeches even when they get cold feet. Self-awareness, on the other hand, allows them to pay attention to their body language and tone while on stage, two vital components to keeping the audience engaged.

Did you ever have a teacher or professor whose lessons were so boring that they put you to sleep? When a speaker lacks enthusiasm, their audience will inevitably also lose interest in the topic being discussed. The more passionately you can speak about an idea, the more likely you are to spark people’s curiosity and grab their attention.

How to improve your public speaking skills

Developing or improving your public speaking skills can take some time. However, with some consistent effort, you too could be stepping on that stage and making a lasting impact on dozens or hundreds of people. Here are 25 tips that can help:

1. Know your audience

Before you begin outlining any speech, it’s important to think who your message is for. Find out as much as you can about your listeners beforehand. What age groups will you be speaking to? What are they hoping to gain from your speech? If they’re older, what industry do they work in? How familiar are they with complicated terminology or industry-specific lingo and jargon ?

You will need to know all this to be able to adjust your presentation and make it impactful.

2. Do your research

This should go without saying, but thorough research on the subject you will be talking about is absolutely essential to delivering an inspiring speech. After all, the more knowledgeable you are on the topic, the more self-assured you’ll be when speaking about it, especially in front of a large, live audience.

3. Organize your materials

If you don’t organize your thoughts and materials, you’ll risk jumping from one point to another, forgetting what you had originally intended to say.

Katherine Burik , founder of Interview Doctor, says: “I always begin my planning with the end in mind… What are the one or two main points I want the audience to leave with? Then I think about it from the audience’s perspective. Frame the entire talk around WIIFM [‘what’s in it for me’] and build around your main points, and you will have a great talk.”

4. Practice in front of the mirror

A good technique that many famous speakers use is practicing in front of a mirror. When you practice your speech this way, you can take mental notes of your facial expressions, hand gestures and body movements and see what needs improvements.

Also, the more you practice, the more familiar you’ll be with the contents of your speech, which is essential in building your sense of confidence. In the words of SEO expert and entrepreneur Kevin Miller : “I used to dread public speaking before I did it a million times. I learned that doing something a million times helps us desensitize ourselves to it, even when it’s scary.”

5. Observer other public speakers

Georges El-Hage, founder and CEO of Wave , makes the following suggestion for aspiring public speakers: “Watch skilled speakers and learn from their techniques. What do they do well that you can incorporate?”

The more speeches you watch, the more pointers and inspiration you can draw from successful public speakers. You just have to observe closely and note down the things you like about them: is it the way their eyes move across the audience while they speak? The way they complement what they’re saying with visual aids? Do they encourage the audience to share their own insights?

6. Work on your breathing

The right breathing techniques can regulate your nervous system and make you feel calmer. A popular one is called the “resonant breathing” technique, in which you breathe in slowly for five seconds and then exhale slowly for another five, for a few minutes each time.

The calmer you feel before you step out in front of an audience, the greater your mental clarity will be and the better able you’ll be to deliver your speech. Plus, your voice will sound steadier and louder, which will also benefit your delivery.

7. Record yourself

You’re probably thinking “cringe alert!” — but by recording yourself, you can listen to your delivery and make notes on how you can improve. You’ll also see how long your speech takes and be able to increase the length or cut it down as necessary.

8. Take classes

If you’re struggling to make progress on your own (after all, you can only get so far without some kind of an audience to speak in front of), look for public speaking classes in your area. These are great because they can teach you how to  communicate effectively and persuasively, as well as help you overcome your fear and make important social connections.

9. Visualize success

Visualization has been used by many famous athletes including Michael Phelps and LeBron James as a tool to enhance performance. Although public speaking isn’t technically a sport (it can sure get that heart rate up, though!), you can use visualization techniques to envision yourself crushing your upcoming speech or presentation.

When visualizing success, it’s important to engage all your senses; the more powerful the imagery, the more you’ll feel within yourself that success is attainable.

10. Discover your stage persona

Some people find it useful to create an alter ego for when they are on stage; take Beyoncé , for example, who has a “sensual, aggressive” alter ego called Sasha Fierce for when she performs.

By adopting a different persona, you can put some space between your “performing” self and your regular, everyday self. That way, you can separate the audience’s reaction and their reception of your speech from your sense of self-worth, allowing you to relax more.

11. Use the KISS technique

The “keep it simple, stupid” technique is popular among professionals everywhere, regardless of industry. When  preparing a presentation or speech, bear this technique in mind in order to keep it your sentences short, sweet and uncomplicated so that your listeners can follow along and remain engaged.

12. Mind your body language

Without you even being aware of it, your  body language  can betray your nervousness and any tension you’re feeling. It’s important, therefore, to pay attention to your body language while you speak. Try to stand up tall and keep your shoulders level, take deep breaths so that your voice stays clear and loud, and maintain eye contact with the audience while you speak.

13. Show your passion

For people to become interested in what you are talking about, you yourself need to demonstrate a passion for it. Someone who’s passionate about what they’re saying will have a magnetizing glow about them, which helps keep the listeners engaged for longer.

Plus, expressing a level of genuine enthusiasm is a must if you want to retain their attention and have them share their own views, sparking a conversation.

14. Open your speech with a grabber

The first minute of your speech or presentation is, perhaps, the most important. This is where you establish a connection with your audience and hold their attention. That’s why so many great speakers begin with a personal story! When you express genuine feelings and open up about real events, you allow your personality to shine through, creating an immediate connection with the audience.

Alternatively, you can start with a fun (or scary) fact that also stirs up emotions for the listener.

15. Avoid talking too fast

When you talk too fast, your audience will either get lost or think that you’re unsure of what you’re saying. Both of these things are enough to render your speech unsuccessful.

To convey your message in a powerful manner, your words need to be loud, clear and confident. It is, therefore, vital to talk clearly and slow enough to be understood at all times.

Smiling throughout your presentation is important, as it makes you come across as friendlier and more trustworthy , establishing a better connection with your audience. (So long as it fits with the overall tone of your speech, that is; don’t go smiling while sharing bad news or stats!)

Smiling will also make you feel more calm and relaxed , which will make it easier to gather your thoughts in the process.

17. Engage with your audience

Many speakers make the mistake of talking at rather than to their audience. It’s important to stay aware of your audience’s reactions, letting those decide when to carry on strong or when to take a second to pause.

If the topic or setup allows for it, consider making an effort to establish some kind of contact with the audience. For example, by asking questions and hearing the audience members’ opinions!

18. Work on your fear of rejection

“What if my audience gets bored?”, you might be wondering. “What if I get booed? Or forget my words?”

While there’s no way to predict how an audience might respond to your talk, the anticipation is often far worse than the event itself. So, while it will probably be not quite as dreadful as you imagine, there’s still a chance that your message won’t resonate with a particular group of people for a variety of reasons.

By viewing your work as separate to who you are as a person, and approaching your speeches with a growth mindset , you’ll automatically feel better and be able to overcome mistakes and obstacles faster.

19. Do some light exercise beforehand

Exercising  before a speech can reduce your cortisol levels (the stress hormone, that is), effectively making you feel less tense and more focused. If you can’t go on a short walk beforehand, try doing a few dynamic stretches, such as arm circles, torso twists and leg swings.

20. Use visual aids appropriately

As Dr Mark Farrell, actuary and director of ProActuary , says: “One of the public speaking techniques I use is the conscious effort to avoid overusing or becoming overly reliant on PowerPoint slides.”

That’s a great piece of advice: if you have presentation slides, they should be there to help you remember the key points. Don’t go reading off them for the entirety of your speech, or you’ll miss out on establishing a connection with your audience.

If you’re unsure on how to create effective visual aids, the  American Speech-Language-Hearing Association  suggests using punctuation sparingly, using bullet points in body copy, and avoiding having more than eight words per line.

21. Channel nervous energy into positive energy

Turning your nerves into excitement will do a world of wonders, so when you next go up on stage, tell yourself how excited you are. That’s right — you’re not nervous , quite the contrary!

“When you do [it], it really has a miraculous impact in helping you change your attitude to what you're about to do,” says inspirational speaker and best-selling author  Simon Sinek . And he must know a thing or two on public speaking; his TED Talks are among the most viewed of all times, after all.

22. Keep it short

In today’s fast-paced world, time is precious. Not only that, but research suggests that people’s attention spans are getting shorter.

Therefore, to avoid frustrating your audience (or sending them to sleep with an endless monologue), show that you value their time and aim to end your speech within the intended timeframe — or a couple of minutes early.

23. Pause for effect

Sometimes what you say is just as important as what you don’t say. Pauses during speeches can be used to emphasize your words, allowing the audience to sit with what you’ve just said. Use them wisely, however: too many pauses, and your speech will become slow and hard to follow.

24. Start small

As Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls , suggests: “Start as a panelist or moderator before you do a keynote talk or even try a podcast or radio interview via phone if you are nervous to speak in front of large groups.”

Indeed, if you begin with smaller audiences in more intimate settings, you can build your confidence until you feel more comfortable taking the stage in a large auditorium.

25. Ask for feedback

Although it’s easy to think that being a charismatic speaker is an inherent quality a person is born with, public speaking is a skill that can be learned and developed. In order to feel more confident each time you speak in front of an audience, therefore, it’s good to ask a few of your listeners for honest feedback.

The more room for improvement you can identify, the more you can perfect your spoken craft.

Key takeaways

It takes a lot of practice to become an inspirational public speaker, but with these tips, you could build the necessary skills and habits to spread your ideas and influence your listeners. To summarize what we’ve talked about in this article:

  • Speaking in public with confidence and ease is a skill that can be developed through practice .
  • Not all great speakers are natural experts ; they devote time to preparing and improving their techniques.
  • If you’re completely new to public speaking, speak in front of smaller audiences first , until you’ve gained some experience and built up some confidence.

We hope you found these tips to improve your public speaking skills useful! Let us know if you’ve got any more advice to share with fellow readers in the comments section below.

Originally published on February 14, 2018. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.

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25 Public Speaking Skills Every Speaker Must Have

Inspired by 25 Skills Every Man Should Know , I pondered a list of the 25 essential skills every public speaker should have . How did I do?

Every public speaker should be able to:

  • Research a topic – Good speakers stick to what they know. Great speakers research what they need to convey their message.
  • Focus – Help your audience grasp your message by focusing on your message. Stories, humour, or other “sidebars” should connect to the core idea. Anything that doesn’t needs to be edited out.
  • Organize ideas logically – A well-organized presentation can be absorbed with minimal mental strain. Bridging is key.
  • Employ quotations , facts, and statistics – Don’t include these for the sake of including them, but do use them appropriately to complement your ideas.
  • Master metaphors – Metaphors enhance the understandability of the message in a way that direct language often can not.
  • Tell a story – Everyone loves a story. Points wrapped up in a story are more memorable, too!
  • Start strong and close stronger – The body of your presentation should be strong too, but your audience will remember your first and last words (if, indeed, they remember anything at all).
  • Incorporate humour – Knowing when to use humour is essential. So is developing the comedic timing to deliver it with greatest effect.
  • Vary vocal pace, tone, and volume – A monotone voice is like fingernails on the chalkboard.
  • Punctuate words with gestures – Gestures should complement your words in harmony. Tell them how big the fish was, and show them with your arms.
  • Utilize 3-dimensional space – Chaining yourself to the lectern limits the energy and passion you can exhibit. Lose the notes, and lose the chain.
  • Complement words with visual aids – Visual aids should aid the message; they should not be the message. Read slide:ology or the Presentation Zen book and adopt the techniques.
  • Analyze your audience – Deliver the message they want (or need) to hear.
  • Connect with the audience – Eye contact is only the first step. Aim to have the audience conclude “This speaker is just like me!” The sooner, the better.
  • Interact with the audience – Ask questions (and care about the answers). Solicit volunteers. Make your presentation a dialogue.
  • Conduct a Q&A session – Not every speaking opportunity affords a Q&A session, but understand how to lead one productively. Use the Q&A to solidify the impression that you are an expert, not (just) a speaker.
  • Lead a discussion  – Again, not every speaking opportunity affords time for a discussion, but know how to engage the audience productively.
  • Obey time constraints – Maybe you have 2 minutes. Maybe you have 45. Either way, customize your presentation to fit the time allowed, and respect your audience by not going over time.
  • Craft an introduction – Set the context and make sure the audience is ready to go, whether the introduction is for you or for someone else.
  • Exhibit confidence and poise – These qualities are sometimes difficult for a speaker to attain, but easy for an audience to sense.
  • Handle unexpected issues smoothly – Maybe the lights will go out. Maybe the projector is dead. Have a plan to handle every situation.
  • Be coherent when speaking off the cuff – Impromptu speaking (before, after, or during a presentation) leaves a lasting impression too. Doing it well tells the audience that you are personable, and that you are an expert who knows their stuff beyond the slides and prepared speech.
  • Seek and utilize feedback – Understand that no presentation or presenter (yes, even you!) is perfect. Aim for continuous improvement, and understand that the best way to improve is to solicit candid feedback from as many people as you can.
  • Listen critically and analyze other speakers – Study the strengths and weakness of other speakers.
  • Act and speak ethically – Since public speaking fears are so common, realize the tremendous power of influence that you hold. Use this power responsibly.

Which skills have I missed ? Are all of those on the list essential ?

Additional Skills for Professional Speakers

Note that I have not attempted to cover additional skills which professional speakers must have that relate to marketing, advertising, product development, and other aspects of running a professional speaking business. There are other resources which address these, such as:

  • Eight Professional Competencies
  • Expertise, Eloquence, Enterprise, and Ethics

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Great points on speaking. All worth following!

Andrew, great list. I have enjoyed your blog and look forward to learning from you throughout 2008. I would add the skill of interacting with the crowd before your presentation. This allows the speaker to get a feel of the audience’s mood, learn some names, get some “in the moment” expectations of the program and generally put everyone at ease.

I would also add teaching others to speak and/or actively mentor another speaker. As you know, it is amazing how much you can improve your craft when you have the opportunity to teach someone else.

Thanks for the suggestions, Rhett.

I agree that both practices you mention are highly valuable skills to hone, but let me ask you this: Which of the 25 skills above would you remove to make room for these? (It isn’t a trick question… it is just a matter of priorities.) Perhaps that means there are more than 25 essential skills for public speakers?

Re: teaching others and/or actively mentoring another speaker Very, very true. I just published the first article in the Speech Analysis Series . Being able to analyze other speakers certainly helps teach/mentor them.

I would say that the audience interaction piece could probably just be an add-on to number 15. Highlight that the interaction needs to start before the presentation.

I think the mentoring piece could be an add-on to number 24. The mentoring is really just a personal and specific method of doing number 24.

Again, great list!

A lot of people underestimate the amount of work that is required in putting together a class or presentation. Kudos to all teachers and trainers out there! Nice article, and a good summary of points here, thanks for sharing.

Keith: Indeed! I have often heard comments like “Oh, you’re lucky. It’s so easy for you to speak in public…” On the contrary, anyone who appears effortless is likely working very hard behind the scenes.

Great list, Andrew! This is my first time on your site… I’ll come back.

My only comment would be to “stay current.” This could probably be added to the description of a more specific speaking skill you’ve already listed, like “research your topic.” It’s important to be “in the know” with the particular group you are speaking to. It’s one thing to research, it’s another to know what new developments are taking place in the industry or organization you are speaking to.

Thanks again, Andrew. Looks like I’ll be spending a little bit of time on your site.

“Staying current” is very important. Your audience can tell if you aren’t on top of your content, and you will lose credibility.

These are 25 great tips and I think it can already serve as a good book outline. Simple but helpful guide to aspiring public speakers.

thank you so much for sharing with us those fabulous tips that is actually will help a lot poeple who are in there first steps to master this skill.

Hi, I am a motivation speaker to and for those with learning challenges. I have learned a few things that I was not aware of.

#14 Connect with the audience

Connecting also allows you to know if the audience gets it or not. One million dollar speaker putting on a seminar for 50 people noted she offended three in the audience by a comment she made. She quickly apologized and moved on. She would not have known this unless she had maintained a connection with the entire room of 50.

I think public speakers can talk about something they dont know. Not all publlic speakers have to be exactly on key with every speech/talk that they give. Its very interesting to me that every time someone mentions public speaker they automatically think politics when thats not the case at all. Not all speakers have to be invovled in some type of politics. But i do agree when this article said that a public speaker must be a leader i absolutely believe that. Because in order to lead a crowd you in fact must be a leader of your own estiny and have your priorities striaght before trying to help/lead someone with theirs. Also, the thing i like about this article is that it tells you some very good details. Like listen and analyze the other speakers thats very good advice. But overall i think this was a very good article and keep up the good work.

Hi Andrew, You’ve made a pretty solid list. I agree with most points, but see things differently on a few points.

7. You don’t always need to start strong, but you do need to start appropriately. That is determined by the occasion and the audience. Also, it’s a myth that the audience will remember your opening and closing more than the body of your speech. Each member of the audience will remember the point that is most significant to them. If the audience doesn’t remember anything at all, you wasted everyone’s time and didn’t prepare your speech properly.

10. Use natural gestures. Punctuating words with gestures often looks contrived if it’s not something you would normally do. It’s quite painful to watch. Gestures have their place, but sometimes a simple head twitch is more powerful that the sweeping of the arms.

Once again, a solid list. Keep up the good work.

I love the fact that you are promoting that speakers get away from the talking head approach. That is so important to gesture/moving and breathing. Keep up the good work. Nancy

Very useful list.

Well done! i find your article quite incisive and mind opening. I happen to a lover of public speaking,and I think am quite endowed with proficiency in oracy. I have always liked to know more so i can enhance my skills. I Appreciate it alot!

Excellent article and I agree with everything you say. It would be interesting to hear what you thought the top 10 points were in order. That could kick off an interesting debate perhaps. All the best Richard

Add to the list? I think that you have covered just about everything. If I had to suggest something, it might be add some emotion… sadness, rage, some emotion that makes the audience think. Build up to the emotion and then bring your audience back to a safe place. Don’t leave them feeling uneasy, perhaps thoughtful but not sad or guilty.

The spoken words wields great power.It can stir people to mutinies and rebellions.So preparing for public speaking requires some special communication techniques to ensure your audience hear what you say.This blog really helps in it.

Number 1: Practice, practice, practice. The 5th time you give a speech will be better than the 4th, and much better than the 1st. Thanks for the great blog.

Spot on! This is one of the more comprehensive lists I have seen. Any good keynote speaker that you see – be they a celebrity speaker or not – will incorporate most or all of these tips and rules into their actions.

Again, this is a great, great post!

Great concise list–the perfect way for anyone to spend 60 seconds and get better as a speaker.

I would find #16 the hardest. I guess thats because your most vulnerable. Do you have any ideas on how to be more prepared for tough questions or how to save face when you may not know the answer?

Rigorous audience analysis can include brainstorming the types of questions most likely to be asked. Then, you can prepare answers for those questions.

If you still don’t know the answer, it is best to be honest and admit that you don’t know it. No speaker can know every answer.

Thanks Andrew. I’m new to public speaking and gave my inaugural ice-breaker speech at my club’s second meeting. I’ve been asked to enter the club competition in 4 weeks, so discovering this site has been a god-send and sent my passion for speaking through the roof. I’ll keep you posted with the result.

I especially like #24. As I’ve observed excellent speakers I’ve noticed many of the things in your list above. I learn so much from listening to someone who is great. Thanks for this post. Every time I listen to someone speak who isn’t very prepared it reminds me that its so important for all of us to keep improving.

Great information and reminders for me. I have a speaking gig tomorrow so the timing is good! I would add one point to #18. Don’t just finish on time, but early. By ending a few minutes early, everyone will be able to hear your powerful close, rather than gathering up their things to leave.

It is also very important to anticipate the reactions of audience while you’re preparing a speech.

Instead of writing notes, you should give the presentation in front of a friend and encourage him/her to ask questions. Then encourage him/her to retell your speech as they understood it.

Empathy is essential in public speaking. You need to anticipate and keep in touch with the reactions from the public.

What do you think ?

All of your suggestions are valid. Audience analysis, seeking feedback, and truly connecting with your audience are all critical.

As i was surfing information about public speaking skills i land upped with this page… valid key skills are brought out…. For sure this kit will be useful for the starters…

I think a little bit of drama also helps in sustaining the interest of the audience provided they are used at right timings. What do u think??

Yes, in many speaking situations, a little bit of drama or suspense can be very effective. You can use this to evoke surprise or curiosity in your audience, and this helps to keep them engaged.

You established some great points in this article. Public speaking is definitely a fear for most people. In essence you have touched based on the basics and the core values of public speaking. These are great tips for those who are trying to master their skills which are highly valuable. The best advice would be is to practice. When you practice something you want to become great at, overtime you will achieve that goal. One thing you mentioned were the Q&A session, when I’ve conducted a Q&A session its seems as though you get better feedback from the audience because like you had mentioned you become an expert on the topic and not just a speaker. The audience can then feel like they are talking to someone who is educated on the subject matter that you are presenting which can make the situation more comfortable for both you and the audience.

Hi Andrew You have shared really outstanding with all of us…today & this is my just first time visit on your blog & with thanks I would like to say very appreciatively Your skills & efforts are excellently awesome.. With Countless best Wishes for your always stop less Success guy.. Take Care.. Bye U Shah- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

As a public speaker in training at the Annandale Campus of NVCC (CST 100-02), I do see many of the skills as very important for success, such as focusing on what your trying to “say”. An issue I always see involves #12, as many people use visual aids to aid themselves more than to aid their speech. They never remembered the speech, so they read off the aid and do not look professional while doing so.

First of all, I am a student in CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

Secondly, I would like to say that i am particularly fond of many of these rules, especially the ones concerning being animated and engaging. Utilizing three dimensional space, and incorporating gestures into your speech is a very useful way to connect to the audience, give them a reason to pay attention to you. Put on a show and they will watch, make what you do engaging, friendly, and open and people will connect. Once a connection is made, the audience actually receiving the information and paying attention to it comes naturally, because you command that attention. No one wants to sit there and listen to some one drone on about a topic, while they simply stand idle behind a lectern, even if that person is the president.

Those are my feelings on skills, make it interesting and people will be interested.

student in CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Number 25, i think helps me the most because i do end to get nervous when i speak in front of the whole class. It is hard to realize the tremendous power that one holds when they are in the front making a speech because one, like myself, will try to make sure things are not forgotten when said but will still forget them anyways even with note cards or “cheat sheets.” I feel like one of these days all my fears would go away with more practice. I guess it would tie in with number 3 by organizing logically but also preparing for a while in what i would say and practice in front of a mirror or my family.

I agree mostly with focus and telling a story. You have to keep the audience entertained. You don’t want you audience to stop paying attention because it could hurt the rhythm of your speech.

Student at NVCC Annandale. (Fall 2012) CST 100 (002N) – Principles of Public Speaking.

I agree mostly with focus and telling a story. You have to keep the audience entertained. You don’t want you audience to stop paying attention because it could hurt the rhythm of your speech.

Hello everyone my name is Isis a student in CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College. I just want to say that this Article is very helpful to improve my speach skills.

Hello everyone my name is Isis a student in CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College. I just want to say that this Article is very helpful to improve my speech skills.

I am a student at Northern Virginia Community College In Annandale. I am taking CST 100-02. While reading the 25 public speaking skills, it made sense that good public speakers should have that. My favorite thing in the list is the being humorous part. I like adding humor in the speech. It makes the audience enjoy the speech and does not bore them.

CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College- Analyze the audience This excellent article simply outlines the skills that speakers need to keep in mind in order to reach their objectives while they could keep their audience connected throughout an oral presentation. I particularly think that analyzing the audience and identifying the level of their understanding can help in delivering a constructive presentation that could keep them focus and away from any distraction.

I am one of CST 100-02 students at Northern Virginia Community college.

The article is very helpful for me to be success in my public speaking class and also to improve my speaking skill in front of public. Point number one is very crucial. Knowing what you are going to talk will reduce stress while you are talking. I believe that being prepare is a key to have a smooth presentation.

Great advice. Main focused for a successful deliverence. With its focus on preparation compusure delivery and possible rebuttal these tips will help with my public speaking class Cst 100-02 northern va community college annandale

My name is Linda and I’m a student in CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

I found this list super helpful because I have a really bad fear of speaking infront of a class. The skills I thought are helpful is number 1 and number 23. Number 1 is right to be a good speaker you must research your topic. Whenever I have to speak infront of the class I would prefer to have alittle time to research my topic so I’m not fully stressed out. Number 23 helps me also I’m not the best speaker at all but I know everytime I have to give a presentation I always use feedback from my previous presentation to help me get better.

Hi my name is Jake Ruefer and I am a student in CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College. I think that these are all great and necessary skills for a great public speaker to have but my two favorite are #3 and #7. There is nothing worse than a speech that seems to have no point and was obviously not organized well. A well planned and though out speech on the other hand has the potential to leave the audience with actual ideas and new opinions. In addition, I always think it is necessary to open and close your speech strong. Coming up with a strong closing thought is definitely one of the hardest things for me to do when speaking but every effective speech that I remember has a strong closing idea. Great list!

I am a student in CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College. I think this article is very insiteful, my favorite part was 6.Tell a story. I personally think that this is an important and key facter in a great speaker. You tell a story everyone has to know what happen nexted and after that you have them. start or end with a good story and you cant go wrong.

#14 – I think this is probably one of the hardest things to do, at least for me, if speaking in public is not your forte. I try to look at an object in the back of the room and not look at my audience because I get nervous, but when I am the one in the audience’s place I liked to be looked at in the eyes because I feel like I can connect with the speaker. This is an important fear to overcome because the results can be so much more effective.

CST 100-02 at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College

My name is Hugo Contreras Argueta and I attend Principles of Public Speaking – 002N at NVVC Annandale.

I believe Andrew Dlugan did an excellent job in creating this list. All 25 skills are essential in becoming a great public speaker. Three I find to be the most important or stand out more than the rest are researching a topic, telling a story, and exhibiting confidence. Great speakers do their homework and research their topic well in advance so they can present their audience with facts, interesting statistics and useful information. Telling a great story is a great way to keep your audience entertained throughout your speech if done right. Last is the mindset your in when you give your speech. All great speakers have an aura of confidence that just captivates audiences for hours and can be felt throughout the room through body language and vocal tone. I believe if you look at every great public speaker you can find a lot of these skills in them. Great read and list Andrew Dlugan!

Hi, I am a Student at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College (CST 100-02 Principles of Public Speaking)

Number one, in my opinion, is the most important, obviously, and the most “forgotten” point as most people do not know what they are talking about or simply read from somewhere. I totally agree with number six: “everyone loves a story”, it makes a Speech more personal and one can identify and picture the words very easily.

Hello to all the students from the CST 100-02 course in Annandale.

I appreciate the feedback on which skills you value the most at this point in your speaking career.

# 7 is the one that I’ve experienced most of the time as a student in CST 100-02 at NOVA . When a speaker starts to speak audience are enthusiastic to listen to the speech and at the end they want to know what is the result.

Student at NVCC Annandale. (Fall 2012) CST 100 (002N) – Principles of Public Speaking.

You should always stick with your topic and focus to have your audience attention

I would like to run for the post of Guild Council Representative at Makerere University Medical School for the year 2013/2014. I greatly do appreciate the guidance i have gained from this text.Thanks.

Hello, Andrew ~ I just happened upon your website and the article you wrote in 2007 entitled “25 Skills Every Public Speaker Should Have.” It’s a timeless article and from my standpoint, you covered all the basics. I work with speakers and plan to use this article in my next newsletter. Of course, I will follow your publishing guidelines and include a link back to the article. I appreciate the opportunity to share this message with my readers. Thank you, Karen Brockman

Hello Andrew, I found your 25 Public Speaking Skills list very helpful: thank you for your generosity!

20. Exhibit confidence and poise – These qualities are sometimes difficult for a speaker to attain, but easy for an audience to sense.

Having confidence and poise is key while speaking. You can have a powerful message to present to your audience but if you lack the confidence and poise, the audience can quickly sense this. The message may not come across as strongly as you would like. Its common to get nervous in front of a large audience, with rehearsal and aggressive practice one can increase ones confidence by reducing your nerves. The audience will not know you are nervous unless you show them.

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18 Blog Links

The Public Speaking Blog » Downsize For You? (From 250 To 50 Speaking Tips) — Nov 22nd, 2007

Redwood Ramblers Toastmasters » Blog Archive » August Blog Carnival of Public Speaking — Aug 4th, 2008

The Public Speaking Blog » Blog Archive » Here’s 60 Public Speaking Tip-Bits To Keep You Ahead Of The Speaking Game — Aug 10th, 2008

Pivotal Public Speaking » 25 Essential Skills every Public Speaker Should Have — Oct 12th, 2008

Jeff Barr’s Blog » Links for Tuesday, December 8, 2009 — Dec 7th, 2009

Learn to be Funny | Pro Humorist — Apr 30th, 2010

Important Skills To Have As A Public Speaker: | Speech111 — Dec 12th, 2010

Tips to Cultivate Good Public Speaking Skills : Your Public Speaking Tips — Jan 14th, 2011

Start with this 25 | World Champion Evaluator — Apr 20th, 2011

25 Public Speaking Skills Every Speaker Must Have | — Nov 2nd, 2011

The 25 Essential Public Speaking Skills | L'espace blogue de Eric Lamirande — Mar 26th, 2012

Creating the Perfect Campaign Presentation « Play. Play. Playmakers! — Apr 25th, 2012

Small Business Marketing Tips - Celebrity Marketing — Jul 26th, 2012

Use Your IPad Effectively: Top 5 Public Speaking blogs | Public speaking and presentation solutions — Dec 12th, 2012

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The importance of public speaking skills

How to improve public speaking skills — 4 factors to keep in mind, 8 tips for public speaking, know how to improve public speaking skills and master your fears.

Some people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying.

I know that sounds extreme, but it makes sense when you think about it. 

Our ancestors needed one another to survive. Social acceptance or rejection meant the difference between life and death.

And if there’s one situation where you run the risk of mass rejection, it’s public speaking.

No wonder many of us find it terrifying. It’s our survival instinct kicking in.

Yet, public speaking is an essential skill in today’s labor market.

If you want to know how to improve your public speaking skills, keep reading for tips and strategies that will help make you a better public speaker.

Strong spoken communication skills are essential for a successful career or business.

According to a study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the majority of executives and hiring managers prioritize strong oral communication skills .

Most jobs require some degree of public speaking, whether it’s giving a presentation to your team or speaking at a conference.

But the survey respondents reported that less than half of college graduates are satisfactory in this area.


Public speaking requires you to present your ideas clearly. At the same time, you must project an image of yourself that inspires empathy in your audience.

But many of us experience public speaking anxiety. It can hinder your ability to deliver your message and engage your audience. 

Public speaking isn’t only important at work. Fear of public speaking can also affect your personal life. It may create misunderstandings with family or friends or prevent you from taking part in activities. 

For example, you might avoid speaking about your ideas or plans or giving a speech at a wedding or social event.

The inability to communicate your ideas results in feeling misunderstood. This can lead to frustration, loneliness , and even social anxiety.

But if you have stage fright, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Few people are born with a natural talent for public speaking. 

This is good news, as it means it’s a skill that you can learn. So let’s dive into how to become a great public speaker.

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Developing your public speaking skills has many benefits in a work environment. It will also increase your confidence.

Even if you’re an introvert or suffer from chronic anxiety , overcoming your fear and learning to be a great public speaker is possible.

Here are four factors that influence your ability to communicate effectively .


1. Voice control

Your voice is the most basic communication tool you possess. Learning to use it properly is key for improving your public speaking.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a useful voice control technique. It can give your voice greater power and clarity and prevent the shortness of breath that anxiety causes.

To do this technique, relax your belly and let it expand as you breathe. Extend your inhalations and exhalations to a count of four each.

Practicing this type of breathing without speaking will help you prepare to use it while speaking. 

It also helps calm your nerves. 

During your public speaking event, use diaphragmatic breathing to control the three main aspects of your voice:

2. Body language

Your body language is the combination of your gestures, facial expressions, and movements. 

It’s an integral part of how we communicate. It helps your audience better understand the nuances of your message.

If your body language contrasts with what you want to transmit or seems incoherent, your speech will be confusing.

Once you confuse people, you lose them.

Use the following tips to improve your body language and engage your audience:

  • Stand up straight and avoid slouching if you are able. .
  • Make sure your facial expression is coherent with your message.
  • Stay still. Constant movement can distract your audience or change the way they receive your message.
  • Practice power poses before your speaking event. This reduces stress and boosts your confidence . Try standing with your feet apart and arms stretched up. Take a few deep breaths, then observe how you feel.
  • Watch a TED Talk and identify body language that effective communicators use. 

3. Delivery

Delivery is the way you speak. Good delivery is essential for your audience to understand your speech.

Follow these tips to improve your delivery:

  • Speak at the speed of a normal conversation. Avoid speaking too quickly because people will get lost in what you are saying. But don’t speak too slowly, either, as they will get bored.
  • Pause regularly. This gives people time to absorb the concepts and ideas. It also makes you appear more confident.
  • Don’t mumble or eat your words — articulate clearly.
  • Avoid making noises such as “ahh” or “umm” between words. If you need time to think, take a brief pause. There is nothing wrong with a few seconds of silence.

4. Audience relations

If you want your audience to listen to you, you need to engage them from the beginning.

The following are ways to connect with your audience:

  • Smile and greet the audience. Thank them for being there. This will humanize you and establish a conversational tone.
  • Look for people in the audience who seem actively engaged in your speech. Imagine speaking only to them.
  • Make eye contact with as many people as possible. This will help establish personal connections with your audience.

Public speaking is a skill that anyone can develop. 

These tips for public speaking will help you overcome your fear and show up with confidence at your next public speaking engagement.


Giving a great speech or presentation starts with planning. 

Identify the core message you want to transmit. Look for interesting facts and statistics to back up your point. Prepare for possible questions that might come up.

Preparing also includes logistical planning. Visit the event location beforehand to get familiar with the environment. 

Use this opportunity to identify any technical requirements, such as a microphone or projector.

Consider using a visual aid, such as a PowerPoint presentation. But if it’s going to give you more anxiety and stress worrying about clicking through the slides, then don’t. There is no hard and fast rule on visuals.

2. Practice

Practice in front of the mirror or record yourself speaking, then watch it back.

Analyze your speed, tone, body language, and facial expression to identify areas for improvement.

Look for public speaking opportunities — whether it’s giving a presentation at work or joining a local Toastmasters club .

Practice your speech as many times as possible before your public speaking engagement. 

You can do this in front of the mirror, record yourself, or practice in front of friends and family. 

3. Have a positive mindset

Everyone gets nervous before a performance. In fact, research shows that a healthy amount of nervousness enhances performance .

But don’t let your nerves suck you into a spiral of negative thoughts. Instead, embrace them and use them as performance rocket fuel.

To cultivate a positive mindset, visualize yourself giving the best speech of your life. Top performers use visualization to improve their results.

4. Involve your audience

Not only does this grab their attention, but it’s also a way to take the spotlight off of you.

Sharing the starring role with your audience members will help you establish a connection with them and feel less nervous.

5. Start with a story

Humans are wired to pay attention to stories. It activates the same parts of our brain that would activate if we experienced the events first-hand. 

We all respond to stories in this way. There is no difference across cultures. This means you can harness the power of storytelling to establish a connection with anyone.

When you start your speech, you only have one minute to make a good impression on your audience. 

A story, anecdote, or question can pique their curiosity and make them want to keep listening.

6. Dress for the occasion

When you look good, you feel good. And feeling good is the key to giving the best possible performance.

Think about it. Do you feel more confident in your favorite suit or dress or in your pajamas?

Dress to impress, but make sure you feel comfortable. Don’t wear anything that’s not your usual style. 

Avoid wearing anything that you will constantly have to adjust as it will be uncomfortable and distracting.

7. Be yourself

It can be tempting to emulate a strong public speaker you admire. But this is a mistake. 

We are all unique, and although you can never be someone else, you are great at being you. 

Perhaps you wish you were funnier, but you’re not a natural comedian. That’s okay. Don’t start cracking jokes as soon as you get on stage.

Instead, embrace your other quirks — we all have them — and let them shine through in your speech. You never know how many audience members might resonate with you.

8. Ask for feedback

Ask a trusted friend or colleague to watch your presentation with a critical eye and give you feedback. (You can also film or record yourself.)

Ask them to be as specific as possible. Tell them to analyze what you do well, as well as what can be improved.

You probably already have some perceived strengths and weaknesses regarding your presentation skills. Ask your feedback buddy to look out for those specifically.

Even if you’re an introvert or suffer from social anxiety, it’s possible to overcome your fear of public speaking.

It will also boost your confidence, and you may even discover you enjoy it.

But if you still need more information on how to improve public speaking, consider taking a public speaking course. Alternatively, you could engage a coach to help you improve your confidence and become a better public speaker .

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Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

The 11 tips that will improve your public speaking skills

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16 Public Speaking Tips for Students

Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of The Anxiety Workbook and founder of the website About Social Anxiety. She has a Master's degree in clinical psychology.

what are effective speech skills

Aron Janssen, MD is board certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry and is the vice chair of child and adolescent psychiatry Northwestern University.

what are effective speech skills

Public speaking tips for students aim to reduce anxiety that can interfere with giving presentations or speeches in class. These tips can also be helpful for those with social anxiety disorder (SAD)   who have difficulty speaking in front of a group or telling a story among friends.

Public Speaking Tips

If you have SAD and need to give a speech  in elementary school, high school, college, or university, it helps to be as prepared as possible . Beyond preparation, however, there are strategies that you can use to reduce anxiety and fight the urge to stay home with a fake illness.

Even great speakers practice their speeches beforehand. Practice out loud with a recording device or video camera and then watch yourself to see how you can improve. If you are feeling brave, practice in front of a friend or family member and ask for feedback.

  • Talk about what you know : If possible, choose a topic for your speech or presentation that you know a lot about and love. Your passion for the topic will be felt by the audience, and you will feel less anxious knowing that you have a lot of experience to draw from when other students ask you questions.
  • Concentrate on your message : When you focus on the task at hand, anxiety is less likely to get out of control. Concentrate on the main message of your speech or presentation and make it your goal to deliver that message to the other students in your class.
  • Grab the audience's attention : Most of your fellow classmates will pay attention for at least the first 20 seconds; grab their attention during those early moments. Start with an interesting fact or a story that relates to your topic.
  • Have one main message : Focus on one central theme and your classmates will learn more. Tie different parts of your talk to the main theme to support your overall message. Trying to cover too much ground can leave other students feeling overwhelmed.

Tell Stories

Stories catch the attention of other students and deliver a message in a more meaningful way than facts and figures. Whenever possible, use a story to illustrate a point in your talk.

Being prepared to speak in public can also be important if you have social anxiety disorder. Feeling confident and prepared to give your speech may help lessen your feelings of anxiety. Some of the things that you can do to prepare include:

  • Visit the room : If you have access to the classroom where you will be speaking outside of class hours, take the time to visit in advance and get used to standing at the front of the room. Make arrangements for any audio-visual equipment and practice standing in the exact spot where you will deliver your speech.
  • Rack up experience : Volunteer to speak in front of your class as often as possible. Be the first one to raise your hand when a question is asked. Your confidence will grow with every public speaking experience.
  • Observe other speakers : Take the time to watch other speakers who are good at what they do. Practice imitating their style and confidence.
  • Organize your talk : Every speech should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Structure your talk so that the other students know what to expect.

Manage Your Anxiety

Taking steps to deal with your feelings of anxiety can also make public speaking easier. Some of the things that you can do:

  • Tell someone about your anxiety : If you are speaking in front of a high school or college class, meet with your teacher or professor and describe your public speaking fears . If you're in elementary or high school, share your fears with your parents, a teacher, or a guidance counselor. Sometimes sharing how you feel can make it easier to overcome stage fright.
  • Visualize confidence : Visualize yourself confidently delivering your speech. Imagine feeling free of anxiety and engaging the students in your class. Although this may seem like a stretch for you now, visualization is a powerful tool for changing the way that you feel. Elite athletes use this strategy to improve performance in competitions.
  • Find a friendly face : If you are feeling anxious, find one of your friends in class (or someone who seems friendly) and imagine that you are speaking only to that person.

Press Play for Advice on Finding Courage

Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares a strategy to help you find courage when you need it the most.

Follow Now : Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts

Maintain Perspective

Remember that other students are on your side. Think about a time when you have been an audience member and the student delivering the speech or presentation was noticeably nervous. Did you think less of that student? More likely, you felt sympathetic and wanted to make that person more comfortable by smiling or nodding.

Remember—other students generally want you to succeed and feel comfortable. If for some reason the audience is not on your side or you experience bullying or social exclusion, be sure to discuss this with a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor.

Be Confident

Sometimes just knowing what makes a good speech can help you feel more confident. Focus on some of the following elements and practice them before you have to speak in public.

  • Develop your own style : In addition to imitating good speakers, work on developing your own personal style as a public speaker. Integrate your own personality into your speaking style and you will feel more comfortable in front of the class. Telling personal stories that tie into your theme are a great way to let other students get to know you better.
  • Avoid filler words : Words such as "basically", "well", and "um" don't add anything to your speech. Practice being silent when you feel the urge to use one of these words.
  • Vary your tone, volume, and speed : Interesting speakers vary the pitch (high versus low), volume (loud versus soft), and speed (fast versus slow) of their words. Doing so keeps your classmates interested and engaged in what you say.
  • Make the audience laugh : Laughter is a great way to relax both you and the other students in your class, and telling jokes can be a great icebreaker at the beginning of a speech. Practice the timing and delivery of your jokes beforehand and ask a friend for feedback. Be sure that they are appropriate for your class before you begin.
  • Smile : If all else fails, smile. Your fellow classmates will perceive you like a warm speaker and be more receptive to what you have to say.

Don't Apologize

If you make a mistake, don't offer apologies. Chances are that your classmates didn't notice anyway. Unless you need to correct a fact or figure, there is no point dwelling on errors that probably only you noticed.

If you make a mistake because your hands or shaking, or something similar, try to make light of the situation by saying something like, "I wasn't this nervous when I woke up this morning!" This can help to break the tension of the moment.

A Word From Verywell

It's natural to feel frightened the first time you have to speak in front of your class. However, if you fear continues, interferes with your daily life and keeps you awake at night, it may be helpful to see someone about your anxiety.

Try talking to a parent, teacher, or counselor about how you have been feeling. If that doesn't get you anywhere, ask to make an appointment with your doctor. Severe public speaking anxiety is a true disorder that can improve with treatment .

Spence SH, Rapee RM. The etiology of social anxiety disorder: An evidence-based model . Behav Res Ther. 2016;86:50-67. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2016.06.007

By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of The Anxiety Workbook and founder of the website About Social Anxiety. She has a Master's degree in clinical psychology.

How to Improve Your Speaking Skills in 10 Easy Steps

what are effective speech skills

You’re feeling like you can’t breathe, you’re sweating uncontrollably, your heart is beating like a drum, and it seems like you’re going to pass out now in front of the whole audience.

  • Know who you you’re speaking to
  • Know what you’re going to talk about
  • Make simple presentations
  • Connect with your audience
  • Appeal to emotions
  • Learn to be funny
  • Tell stories
  • Stay clear in your communication
  • Concentrate your presentation on one major idea
  • Explain difficult terms in simple words

If you’re one of the many people who suffer from public speaking anxiety , learn and make use of these 10public speaking skills to achieve the necessary level of confidence, persuasion, and leadership to wow any crowd.

Make sure you check out other articles for more smart study and career tips on our website .

👁 Step #1. Know who you’re speaking to

Wondering how to improve your public speaking skills? Start with solid preparation. When getting ready for your speaking performance, the very first thing to do is to get a full dossier on the people you’re going to deliver your speech to.

Think about it this way:

Wouldn’t it be awkward to talk about the awesome sound of brand new headphones in front of hearing-impaired people? What about giving a presentation about Shakespeare at a math conference? And how would Muslims react to your “5 Best Ways to Cook Pork”?

When preparing your speech, consider these six simple questions to keep yourself from looking silly:

Who? Learn as much information as possible about your audience in advance. You want to know things like the size of the group, the age of your listeners, their economic and educational status, and their attitudes towards you (friendly or hostile?).

What? What does your audience already about your subject? What else can you tell them? What impact do you want your speech to have on them?

When? When does your talk take place? Will it be after a long day of work or study when everyone really just wants to go home? Or will it happen during a short break when you need to give your maximum with the minimum at your disposal?

And here’s a few more questions to ask to give an outstanding speech :

Where? Where are you going to give your speech? At a lecture hall or in a college amphitheater? On a huge stage or in a small room?

Why? Why are these people here? Did they come to listen only to you, or are there 10 more speakers? Were they willing to come or were they forced to?

The last (but not least) question that will help you develop your public speaking strategies is this:

How? How can I achieve the desired result?

Most of the answers will be obvious to you already, but others will require some research and observation. However, the little bit of extra work is definitely worth the trouble.

🎙 Step #2. Know what you’re going to talk about

Brian Tracy, author of many books in sales, human productivity, and time management, paraphrasing Ernest Hemingway, said:

Make sure you do good research about your topic and get ready for the Q-and-A part of your speech. You won’t know everything, and that’s okay–you’re not Google after all—but it is to your advantage to learn as much as you can before your speech.

Are there any techniques for an excellent research process? Of course!

First, find trusted sources on your topic. For this purpose, you may need credible search engines:

  • Google Scholar is a fantastic tool every student should use. It is an enormous library of all public articles, books, and journals on any topic.
  • Microsoft Academic contains more than 190 million publications. Among them you will find statistics, journals, affiliations, and more.
  • WorldWideScience.org is a place where you can use an advanced search to find the most appropriate information in dozens of scientific journals.

Second, you may want to search credible sources like World Health Organization , U.S. Food and Drug , or Physics.org . Finally, you may want to talk to an educator or influencer. If you discuss specific concepts and ideas on your topic with an expert, your presentation will strike the audience as more credible with convincing facts. Don’t have the time or opportunity to reach influencers? Then, use the power of the internet! Enhance your knowledge by watching lectures and video conferences, listening to podcasts, and reading interviews. Go to a free essay database to see how other students construct their speeches.

And to do that without sacrificing too much of your valuable time, you may want to consider some boost your productivity tips .

📝 Step #3. Make simple presentations

Most people think that a good presentation has to be complicated and contain dozens of slides with enormous amounts of data. Data that no one ever reads or understands, and that definitely no one remembers!

Powepoint or Not Powerpoint?

The year 2016 is the year when you can forget about PowerPoint with peace of mind. Public speaking experts insist that presentations with slides are not worth the effort. People remember a very small portion of everything they hear, so don’t complicate your life. Instead, write down your speech and make sure that it has a clear introduction, an interesting middle part (better if done according to the Rule of Three ), and a helpful summary. Your speech will only be memorable if you spend this extra time for presentation skills training.

After all, you don’t want this situation to happen to you, do you?

But there is good news for those who don’t like PowerPoint’s interface—use one of many excellent online services instead. Here are a couple of those:

Here are a couple of those:

  • Piktochart – a free tool for presentations, infographics, and printouts. It has such benefits as attractive patterns, hundreds of vector images, various fonts, and a collection of stock images. You can not only use its patterns for your slides but also learn a lot of new techniques on presentation design, like the usage of frames or the choice of appropriate fonts.
  • Canva – a helpful service in education, business, and daily life. You can develop a creative infographic, presentation, or happy birthday postcard in 20 minutes. It offers a comprehensive list of custom images—more than 1 million items to choose from, including fonts and patterns.
  • Visme is another presentation making tool. You don’t need to spend time mastering design skills, just use one of their patterns and add your statistics, videos, and images. Publish your presentation online or share it with your audience.

Use these or other online services if you’re not a fan of PowerPoint. It usually takes less time and is much more fun!

👂 Step #4. Connect with your audience

One of the most important public speaking skills is the ability to connect with the audience. Your speech will hardly have any effect, no matter how wonderful the content is, if you look or act detached.

But here’s the deal:

Luckily for you, you already have three very simple and effective means of non-verbal communication: your eyes, your smile, and your enthusiasm.

  • Establish eye contact with your audience as soon as you walk on the stage and maintain it throughout the whole performance. Here’s an awesome trick: Choose someone on the right side of the audience and keep eye contact with her. Everyone on that side will think you are talking to them! Use this technique to interact with the left part of the audience as well.
  • Keep smiling . A smiling person projects confidence (even when he feels absolutely the opposite) and makes everyone smile back.
  • Be enthusiastic. It’s crazy how contagious any idea can be when a person talks about it with genuine enthusiasm and interest.

😊 Step #5. Appeal to emotions

Your ability to influence people’s emotions considerably determines the effectiveness of your presentation skills. It is a proven fact that emotions affect long-term memory , having a huge impact on our ability to recollect information over time.

Emotions Are Like Neon Signs Telling Your Brain “Remember This!”

Here how it works:

The stronger emotions you can trigger in people, the more receptive they’ll be to what you say and the more likely they are to remember it.

This doesn’t mean that your performance should turn into a play (although in some cases that may be a great strategy), but it does suggest some easy tips for you:

  • Be honest and open;
  • Show your vulnerability, whether it’s a disease you’ve overcome, a bad childhood, or your strange passions;
  • Express emotion by using different volumes, intonations, and gestures;

Be inventive!

😂 Step #6. Learn to be funny

By telling jokes and anecdotes, you can warm up the audience and blend the information traffic. You should definitely include funny tidbits every few minutes just to relax the atmosphere and give people time to digest what they’ve just heard.

A truly amazing example of how humor can fit into a presentation without ruining its seriousness is Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “ Do schools kill creativity? ” According to calculations made by Carmine Gallo for Forbes, Sir Robinson’s talk received about 2 laughs per minute—almost as many as “The Hangover” (which got 2.5 laughs per minute)! https://embed.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

And if your first thought right now is “I am not funny at all,” try to use these humor training tips . You may surprise yourself!

For example:

  • Use personal experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a comedian or a college student, everyone can find something funny in their everyday routine to put into the presentation.
  • Put jokes into your presentation. It’s a perfect option for those who have a fear of public speaking. It may be difficult for you to tell a joke, but you can always include a meme or a funny gif into your slides.
  • Use quotations. Is joke development a challenging task for you? Then, you may use an existing popular quote or joke. Don’t forget to mention the author though!

🗣 Step #7. Tell stories

It’s really easy to learn how to get better at public speaking if you just consider the words of Columbia University Professor Jane Praegar:

“People struggle so mightily writing speeches when all they have to do is find a message and three great stories to prove it.”

Some of the best examples of effective communication skills through telling stories were shown by Steve Jobs in his Stanford commencement speech in 2005 and Michelle Obama in her speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. These two speeches, fully consisting of personal stories, caused a frenzy in audiences around the world.

And if you just haven’t had that many heart-touching moments in your own life, use these classic storytelling techniques instead.

  • Base your story on a conflict. This is a trick used by professionals and newcomers. Every encounter involving people, values, or beliefs gives you a strong foundation for narration.
  • Create hooks. Include fascinating hooks in your story to attract your audience’s attention. Almost all successful presentations use this strategy.
  • Use models. There are several models you can use in your speech—patterns you may find in many stories. For example, a hero’s journey .

✨ Step #8. Stay clear in your communication

Elizabeth Kuhnke, author of the book Communication for Dummies , said on her blog:

“ No matter how smart you are, how powerful your message, and how compelling your story, if you can’t be understood you might as well send a memo. ”

It’s very common to start speaking quickly when you are nervous. As a result, you swallow sounds or entire words, get lost in the content, and make yourself even more nervous.

But take a breath, break this vicious cycle, and learn how to be clear in communication:

  • Do warming up vocal chords exercises before delivering the speech.
  • Speak at a moderate pace. Thoroughly pronounce your words, keeping in mind your intonation. If you notice that you are starting to speed up, take a pause, drink some water, and then continue.
  • Make sure that you think before you speak. No one wants to listen to indistinct or rambling speech.
  • Remove filler words like “um” and “uh.” Each time you feel the necessity to fill your speech, just make a short pause instead.

💡 Step #9. Concentrate your presentation on one major idea

Accept the fact that it will be impossible to fit everything you want to say on the topic into your speech. In fact, one of the features of good speaking skills is the ability to pick a specific important idea and concentrate the whole speech on it. Share examples and tell stories to prove it.

By the way:

Some essay writing tips may do you good service when dealing with this part of your speech. After all, a speech is just like an essay: clear, organized, and focused. Don’t be afraid to use anything and everything that can be helpful during your preparation.

⭐ Step #10. Explain difficult terms in simple words

Here’s the thing:

Your audience might be totally unfamiliar with the terms and concepts that seem clear to you, so you need to build a kind of mental bridge to transfer your ideas to them. And the best way to do that is to keep it simple. Use common words, expressions, metaphors, and comparisons—let them understand you and actually picture what you are talking about.

In her TED speech on gene editing, Jennifer Kahnspoke about a new biotechnology called CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat.

Sorry, what?

Look at how she explained it:

Jennifer Kahn Quote

Now isn’t that easier to understand?

Practice makes perfect.

Don’t ruin your outstanding performance by being lazy.

Stop wondering about how to improve speech skills and simply start practicing. The simple fact is that your presentation skills won’t get better themselves.

Here are 9 more smart public speaking practice tips:

  • Write down your speech and make a bulleted list of your narrative.
  • Read the speech several times. Learn it but don’t memorize it exactly. You are going to share your ideas, not recite the digits of pi by memory.
  • Use your bulleted list as a guide.
  • Another great tip on how to develop speaking skills: Speak on camera. It may seem awkward, but by doing so, you will have an opportunity to hear and see yourself, to analyze your mistakes (both verbal and non-verbal ), and to improve your techniques and strategies. Film and watch your speech as many times as you need to.

Keep Smiling, Establish Eye Contact, Be Enthusiastic.

  • Speak in front of your friends or relatives. Pay attention to how they act when listening to you. If they are bored, notice it. Ask for their honest feedback after your performance so that you can learn how to improve.
  • Ask your teacher/tutor/director/boss to give you an opportunity to deliver a speech in front of your group, classmates, colleagues, or even strangers. Field trainings are known to be very effective in developing speaking techniques.
  • Keep practicing until your public speaking skills start to slowly improve. And then what? Continue practicing!

You might watch politicians, businessmen, celebrities, and other masters of the spoken word and think, “I can never be as good! They were born with this ability!” But now you can see that this is far from the truth. They haven’t inherited this craft. They’ve devoted countless hours, days, weeks, or even months to practicing everything from what they are talking about to how they look, stand, or move.

It’s crazy, but:

Every gesture, pause, or hesitation is carefully considered and rehearsed to make it look and sound smooth and natural.

So keep practicing your public speaking skills—and remember the words of a true master of language Ralph W. Emmerson:

“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”
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  • Career Planning
  • Skills Development

Important Public Speaking Skills for Workplace Success

what are effective speech skills

What Is Public Speaking?

  • Why Employers Value Public Speaking

Top Public Speaking Skills

How to showcase your skills, how to improve your public speaking skills.

Candidates with strong public speaking skills are in demand for the many occupations that require the ability to speak to a group. Dynamic and well-prepared speakers are highly valued by employers, and having this skill set can even help land you leadership positions and important roles. 

Learn more about public speaking, why it's important, and how to improve your public speaking skills.

Public speaking is a  soft skill  that requires excellent communication skills, enthusiasm, and the ability to engage with an audience. Soft skills are interpersonal skills that are less technical and more about how you interact with others.

Public speakers make presentations to a group. Presentations could range from speaking to a small number of employees to presenting to a large audience at a national conference or event. The same skill set and ability to be comfortable speaking in public are required regardless of the size of the group.

Why Employers Value Public Speaking Skills

The art of public speaking comes into play in many places. It's important not only in the delivery of speeches and public talks, but also in professional presentations, training events, and motivational speaking. Consultants, training, managers, clergy, sales representatives, and teachers, for example, all have a reason at times to speak in front of others.

A lackluster speaker can make a solid product or proposal seem less than enticing, while a polished speaker can add allure to an otherwise mediocre proposition. 

Most professional-level roles require some amount of public speaking. It's often necessary to carry out functions like presenting findings, pitching proposals, training staff, and leading meetings.

When you want to highlight your public speaking skills in your cover letter or resume, or during an interview, be sure to go beyond stating that you have "public speaking skills." Go into detail about which aspects of public speaking you are good at, and provide specific examples of your skills and expertise.

Some of the most important skills for successful public speaking include the following.

Clear Articulation

Of course, public speakers must be able to speak well. That includes enunciating, speaking loudly enough, and using proper grammar without a lot of verbal crutches such as "um." It helps to be able to talk well in ordinary conversation, but public speaking is a kind of performance and, as such, requires practice and preparation.

Memorization is not usually necessary, because many people are able to speak in an unscripted way to some degree. However, you must be familiar enough with your material that you don't pause excessively, repeat yourself, or stumble over your words.

You also need to be able to pace yourself so that you finish on time rather than early or late.

Engaging Presentation Style

Presentation style  includes vocal tone, body language, facial expression, and timing. The right style can make a talk that could have been boring become exciting and engaging.

Assessing the Needs of the Audience

Some audiences want a lot of technical detail; others don't. Some will enjoy humor; others won't. There are jokes that work in some crowds but not others. To draft a successful talk and to adopt the appropriate presentation style, you need to be able to assess the needs of your audience.

Before you begin speaking, think about your audience and what they hope to gain from your presentation. That can help you assess their needs, which can help ensure that your presentation is the best possible use of your time and theirs.

PowerPoint Skills

PowerPoint is a popular software used for creating slides. Not all public speakers use them, but slides are so common that doing without them is sometimes called "speaking naked."

It's not only important to understand the technical aspects of using the software, it also helps if you have the artistic ability to create slides that are aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand—or, you should work with a collaborator who can do so. Either way, you must know how to integrate your slides smoothly into the other aspects of your presentations.

Composition Skills

Whether you prepare your talk ahead of time or just go with the flow, you must be able to construct talks that are rational, coherent, and easy to understand, and that cover all the points you want to hit.

Storytelling and humor help, and you must know how to use them. Public speaking is not only a form of performance art; it also requires writing skills.

Other Public Speaking Skills

The skills mentioned above aren't the only ones that are important to public speaking. The following skills and tips can make you an even more effective public speaker:

  • Controlling performance anxiety
  • Drafting an evaluation form that attendees are likely to complete
  • Grabbing the attention of the audience with a powerful opening
  • Handing out copies of slides in advance to minimize note-taking demands on the audience
  • Maintaining eye contact with the audience and providing an energetic, animated physical presence
  • Memorizing enough content so that the speech does not come off as a reading of notes
  • Modulating vocal tone to emphasize important points and avoid monotonous presentation
  • Organizing a logical flow to a speech
  • Preparing examples that are relevant to the experience of the expected audience
  • Providing compelling evidence to support themes
  • Rehearsing the presentation and revising rough spots
  • Researching information about the latest trends in an industry before presenting at a professional seminar
  • Restating critical points at the end of a speech to cement key concepts
  • Reviewing feedback and modifying the approach for talks in the future
  • Summarizing the topics to be covered at the beginning of a lecture to provide context for attendees

Public speaking is a skill in itself, but it is also a collection of skills. Lists like this can help you name some of these skills so you can identify which jobs require the abilities you have. 

Be sure to read job descriptions carefully. Even very similar positions can have different requirements, depending on what the hiring manager is looking for.

Mention Skills in Your Resume and Cover Letter

When you apply, you can use these skills as keywords on your  resume  or other application materials. Hiring managers sometimes scan through applications looking for these keywords to make an initial cut, so it's important to make it clear from the beginning that you have the sought-after qualifications.

Then, use your  cover letter  to highlight some of your most relevant skills.

Share Your Skills During a Job Interview

Be prepared to give examples of specific times when you embodied these skills, because your interviewer is likely to ask. If you've made public presentations or internal company presentations, share the details with the interviewer.

Whether you feel like a public-speaking expert or you're new to it, there are always ways you can improve. You can brush up on your public speaking skills with these tips:

  • Take a public speaking class or workshop.
  • Practice in front of the mirror.
  • Practice in front of friends, family, or colleagues; then, ask for feedback.
  • Record yourself giving a presentation, watch the video, and take notes.
  • Watch videos of accomplished public speakers you admire.

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what are effective speech skills

Rishi Sunak's final speech as Prime Minister: 5 July 2024

Rishi Sunak gave his final speech as Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street.

The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak’s final speech as Prime Minister (BSL) (youtube.com)

Good morning, I will shortly be seeing His Majesty the King to offer my resignation as Prime Minister.

To the country, I would like to say, first and foremost, I am sorry.

I have given this job my all. 

But you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change…

…and yours is the only judgement that matters. 

I have heard your anger, your disappointment; and I take responsibility for this loss. 

To all the Conservative candidates and campaigners who worked tirelessly but without success…

…I am sorry that we could not deliver what your efforts deserved. 

It pains me to think how many good colleagues…

…who contributed so much to their communities and our country…

…will now no longer sit in the House of Commons. 

I thank them for their hard work, and their service. 

Following this result, I will step down as party leader…

…not immediately, but once the formal arrangements for selecting my successor are in place. 

It is important that after 14 years in government the Conservative Party rebuilds…

…but also that it takes up its crucial role in Opposition professionally and effectively.

When I first stood here as your Prime Minister, I told you the most important task I had was to return stability to our economy.

Inflation is back to target, mortgage rates are falling, and growth has returned. 

We have enhanced our standing in the world, rebuilding relations with allies…

…leading global efforts to support Ukraine…

…and becoming the home of the new generation of transformative technologies. 

And our United Kingdom is stronger too: with the Windsor Framework, devolution restored in Northern Ireland, and our Union strengthened.

I’m proud of those achievements. 

I believe this country is safer, stronger, and more secure than it was 20 months ago.

And it is more prosperous, fairer, and resilient than it was in 2010.

Whilst he has been my political opponent, Sir Keir Starmer will shortly become our Prime Minister. 

In this job, his successes will be all our successes, and I wish him and his family well.

Whatever our disagreements in this campaign, he is a decent, public-spirited man, who I respect.

He and his family deserve the very best of our understanding, as they make the huge transition to their new lives behind this door…

…and as he grapples with this most demanding of jobs in an increasingly unstable world.

I would like to thank my colleagues, my Cabinet, the Civil Service - especially here in Downing Street…

…the team at Chequers, my staff, CCHQ…

…but most of all I would like to express my gratitude to my wife Akshata and our beautiful daughters.

I can never thank them enough for the sacrifices they have made so that I might serve our country. 

One of the most remarkable things about Britain is just how unremarkable it is…

…that two generations after my grandparents came here with little, I could become Prime Minister…

…and that I could watch my two young daughters light Diwali candles on the steps in Downing Street.

We must hold true to that idea of who we are…

…that vision of kindness, decency, and tolerance that has always been the British way.

This is a difficult day, at the end of a number of difficult days.  

But I leave this job honoured to have been your Prime Minister. 

This is the best country in the world and that is thanks entirely to you, the British people…

…the true source of all our achievements, our strengths, and our greatness.

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Roger Federer’s Graduation Speech Becomes an Online Hit

At Dartmouth College, the retired tennis champion offered his thoughts on winning and losing.

Roger Federer, wearing an academic gown, holds a tennis racket while standing at a tree-stump podium.

By Steven Kurutz

There are thousands of commencement addresses on college campuses each spring. Most are unremarkable and go unremarked upon. But occasionally one gets people talking and gains traction online. That was the case with the speech given by the retired tennis champion Roger Federer at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on June 9.

Mr. Federer, who left school in his native Switzerland at 16 to play professionally, noted early in his remarks that he was not an obvious choice for a commencement speaker.

“Keep in mind, this is literally the second time I have ever set foot on a college campus,” he told the more than 2,000 graduates.

After some warm-up jokes about beer pong (which is said to have been invented at a Dartmouth fraternity party) and a few shout-outs to local institutions (“I got a chance to hit some balls with my kids at the Boss Tennis Center … I also crushed some chocolate chip cookies from Foco ”), Mr. Federer got down to business and offered the graduates some tennis lessons that doubled as life lessons.

The part of the speech that has caught on with audiences far beyond the Ivy League environs of the Dartmouth campus — prompting numerous TikTok videos , many of them set to inspirational string music — was his reframing of his years of dominance on the tennis court.

“In the 1,526 singles matches I played in my career, I won almost 80 percent of those matches,” Mr. Federer said. “Now, I have a question for all of you. What percentage of the points do you think I won in those matches?”

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