Public speaking can be a challenge for many people. This is especially true if you're not used to giving speeches publicly. Plus, if you're like many people, you may even be afraid of public speaking.
With practice, you can get better at public speaking. But lots of practice can take time. What if you're in a hurry to become a better speaker? There are some quick tips for giving a speech you can use right away that'll help you improve your public speaking skills.
In this tutorial, we'll share over ten top public speaking tips and tricks that you can use today. These tips aren't meant to totally replace public speaking practice, but you can use them to improve your public speaking skills. With these easy-to-implement tips for public speaking, learn how to improve your public speaking skills quickly so that your next speech will be better.
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Read on to learn some tips for better public speaking.
Top Tips for Public Speaking
If you need to give a public speech, you're probably also interested in learning how to improve your public speaking skills. After all, you want your speech to go over well, right?
Here are over ten public speaking tips and tricks to help you become a better speaker:
1. Schedule At Least One Practice Session
For your speech to really be effective, it's important to be comfortable about giving it. But you won't be really be comfortable with your presentation unless you're familiar with your topic. The best way to get familiar with your topic is to practice your speech at least once (more, if you can work in additional practice sessions).
Practice not only helps you familiarize yourself with your material, it also allows you to work out any rough areas in the presentation. And if you are able to practice your speech in front of someone else, you can use their feedback to make it even better.
2. Make Sure Your Slideshow Is Professional
Many people who give public speeches use a professional presentation tool, like Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Keynote. If you'll be using one of these tools to design your presentation slideshow, make sure that your slideshow looks professional.
One way to ensure that your slideshow looks professional is to use a professionally designed presentation template. If you're busy or if you're not a professional designer, you may struggle with creating your own presentation design template. Designing a professional template can take a lot of time.
Fortunately, you don't have to design your own presentation slideshow. You can use a professionally designed template for PowerPoint, Google Slides, or even Keynote to ensure that your slideshow looks good. These professional templates are ready for you to customize with your own information.
To preview some of the best presentation templates available, take a look at this article:
3. Get Enough Sleep the Night Before
Sleep deprivation can negatively impact the way that you give your speech. First of all, studies show that a lack of sleep can affect your memory—making it harder for you to remember your speech. Also, not getting enough sleep can make it harder for you to control your emotions, which may also mean you'll struggle to stay calm during your speech.
If you regularly struggle with getting enough sleep at night, or if you suspect you'll not get enough sleep the night before your presentation, you'll want to take extra measures to get a good night's. Being well-rested will help you to give a better speech.
This tutorial has some helpful tips on how to get a good night's sleep:
4. Use Positive Self-Talk to Psych Yourself Up
For many of us who are afraid of public speaking, one of the biggest obstacles to improving your public speaking skills is yourself. We tend to be our own worst critic. We tell ourselves that we're not good at public speaking, so when it comes time to give a speech we're so convinced that we're going to mess up that we do. Our attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But just as you can psych yourself out, you can psych yourself up. In other words, you can use the power of positive thinking to change your expectation. Rather than expecting failure, you can expect success.
Here are just a few techniques to try:
- When you find yourself thinking that the speech will fail, tell yourself the speech will be successful.
- Imagine the speech is over and that it went very well. Imagine yourself getting positive feedback from your colleagues and peers.
- Ask yourself, would anyone else be as hard on me as am being on myself? Chances are, the answer is no.
- Remind yourself of the things that you've already accomplished. (These past accomplishments don't have to be related to public speaking.)
5. Stay Calm
If it helps you relax, meditate or even pray before your presentation. The key is to reduce your stress level so that you can give your speech calmly. You'll be more comfortable giving your speech and your audience will be more receptive to your message.
Other techniques to relax include:
- Listening to calming music
- Using breathing techniques
For more information on how to recharge yourself mentally, study this article:
6. Appearances Count: Dress for Success
If you're giving a public speech, that means your audience will see you. So, whether you like it or not, how you look does make a difference. Sadly, many of your listeners will judge you based on appearance (even if they don't realize they're doing that).
You want to look professional and competent as you give your public speech, so it's important to dress the part. It's important to realize that professional dress doesn't necessarily always mean formal dress. What it means instead is that you should be slightly better dressed than your audience members. For example: if your audience is going to mostly be wearing shorts and tee shirts, you may want to consider a business casual outfit of khakis and a professional top or shirt.
The following tutorial was meant for people giving presentations on camera, but some of the tips apply to live presentations as well (especially if you're broadcasting live online):
7. Make a Great First Impression
How you open your speech gives your audience their first impression of you as a speaker (and of where you're going with your topic). That's why it's important to make sure that you engage your audience right away. Pay special attention to how you start your speech.
Some common public speaking techniques for starting strong include:
- Share an interesting story.
- Ask a thought-provoking question.
- Tell a joke (being careful to be appropriate for your audience).
- Show a startling or otherwise eye-catching image.
- Play a well-produced short video.
Once you've made a good first impression and you've got your audience's attention, you're ready to give the rest of your speech.
8. Think of the Audience Members As Friends
If you're nervous about speaking in public, try this little trick. You probably have no trouble talking to your friends, so imagine the audience is made up of friends. If you've got actual friends in the audience, focus on those friendly faces as you speak.
To improve your public speaking skills, don't think of your speeches as something you've got to somehow get through. Instead, think of them as conversations you're having with your audience. The slight mental shift will help you to be a more effective public speaker.
9. Pauses Are Powerful
Short pauses help you to pace your speech and also help you remember to breathe. Work regular and strategic pauses in your speech. Pause a few seconds after each paragraph. (You can time this by actually counting to two in your head.) Use longer pauses before introducing a new idea for dramatic emphasis—especially if the idea is an important one.
Pauses are so important to effective public speaking that I suggest including major pauses in your speech outline as a reminder to yourself. That way you won't forget to pause during your presentation.
If you're giving a longer speech, you'll also want to give your audience a short break during the speech. Not only will your audience be more comfortable if you give them a break, but a break also gives audience members a chance to ask you a question privately or network among themselves.
10. Use an Outline
Avoid reading your speech from a transcript. Speeches that are read verbatim are rarely effective. Plus, reading your speech limits your ability to make eye contact with audience members, which makes you less relatable.
Also avoid using notecards, which could easily get out of order. I once had a college professor who relied totally on notecards to give the classroom presentations. Unfortunately, if the notecards were left on the desk (which they often were) there were always those students who would shuffle them as a prank.
If you need something to help you keep your speech on topic (and most of us do) an outline is your best bet. You can glance it quickly while you're talking if you find yourself forgetting what comes next. But you won't be reading it word-for-word. And if you use an outline it's unlikely that your notes will get out of order.
11. End on a Strong Note
The last things you say to your audience are nearly as important as the first things that you say. For one thing, if you've held their attention throughout the entire speech the audience is likely really interested in your message. But even if they're not interested, many people will tune in again at the close of a presentation.
Be sure to take full advantage of your speech's close. During the close, you should not only summarize your message, but also let your audience know what additional steps they should take next. If you've just given a sales presentation, this is called the "call to action." It's where you ask your prospective customers for their business.
To make the close of your speech more memorable, try adding an attention-grabber such as a story that illustrates your message or a well-done video that summarizes your speech.
Learn More About Public Speaking
You've just learned a lot about how to become a better public speaker, but there's even more to learn. For more information about public speaking, review these tutorials:
- 20+ Effective Public Speaking Skills & Techniques to MasterLaura Spencer15 Mar 2022
- How to Overcome Your Fear of Public SpeakingDavid Masters24 Feb 2014
- How to Write a Great Speech for Public Speaking in 7 StepsLaura Spencer20 Nov 2021
Or, work through all of our public speaking tutorials in our Fundamentals of Public Speaking series for a complete public speaking guide.
Plus, don't forget to download The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations eBook now for FREE with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Get your ideas formed into a powerful presentation that'll move your audience!
You've just learned some quick public speaking tips and tricks that'll help you improve your public speaking skills fast. If you've got to give a speech any time soon, you'll want to use these quick tips for better public speaking right away. If you won't be giving a speech any time soon (but know that you eventually will give one), bookmark this tutorial for when you'll need it. Good luck on your next speech!