7 Lessons for better Public Speaking

Written by Steve Carey

Public speaking can be frightening. Over the years I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen politicians, business chiefs and keynote speakers stumble over a speech due to nerves, inadequate preparation or because their lack of presentation skills simply got the better of them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The skills you need to deliver a dynamic, memorable presentation, rather than one which leaves the audience either asleep or scrambling for the exit, are not as complex as you would expect.

Here are my top tips for successful public speaking:

  1. Preparation is Key: know your topic and decide on your key messages
  2. Annecdotes: audiences are more likely to engage with you and your material if they can identify with and relate to the story or situation you’re describing to them
  3. Visual Cues: find strong, interesting images or short videos to support what you are saying
  4. Breathe: sounds simple but several deep breaths before you begin can settle the nerves as well as help you maintain an even pace in your delivery
  5. Conversational Style: imagine you are telling a friend a story at home
  6. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse: the more you practice, the smoother and more confident the delivery
  7. Arrive Early: so you can get a look and feel for the ‘space’ in which you will be presenting and to ensure all the audio visual equipment is in order

The best presentations are engaging… delivered with skill and dexterity by those with a comprehensive understanding of the most appropriate style, structure and delivery for that context.

Taking the time to learn and develop these basic public speaking skills will at least help to ensure that in your next presentation, you’ll be victorious over both style AND substance.