Public speaking is a skill needed for anyone who wants to advance their career, improve their business, or just share their experience with the world. It’s not hard to improve your public speaking skills, but it does take practice.
With that in mind, I decided to create this blog as a resource for people hoping to do just that.
Here are some Public Speaking Tips for Beginners to help you in your Public Speaking Journey.
Public Speaking Masterclass for beginners
1. Planning your speech
As the old saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” (I don’t believe this is an actual quote from anyone of note; I just enjoy the alliteration.)
This rule often applies in business, but it also applies here. Planning your speech is a crucial part of giving one, and if you want to get good at public speaking, you need to start with solid preparation.
In this section, we will address how best to prepare a speech ahead of time.
To begin, it’s important that you know who your audience is and what they expect of you. You will want to write the speech with them in mind and tailor it accordingly.
The expectations for the length of a speech vary depending on whether your audience has prepared for it beforehand or not:
if they have prepared for the talk by studying related material on their own time before you give your talk then they may expect something longer than if they are hearing about this subject for the first time from you personally.
2. Researching your topic
In preparing for your speech, you will want to make sure that you research the subject thoroughly. You must also think about what you want to say and how to say it.
You should always check facts and figures before using them in your speech.
If possible, find supporting material from a variety of sources.
This will help you compose a more interesting presentation and give you a reputation as a well-researched speaker. Re-read the material you have found and try summarizing it.
This allows the information to be more readily available when you are writing your speech since it is already in your head.
3. Focusing on the audience
One of the most important steps to do before giving a speech is to research your audience.
You should consider who they are, what they want to get out of the speech, and most importantly, whether or not you can relate to them. If you are speaking at a convention made up of physicists, it might be beneficial to use complex theories and facts that you may have learned in college.
If, on the other hand, you’re speaking at an elementary school about which form of transportation is best for the environment (walking vs. driving), stick with something these kids can understand – maybe some jokes about how walking burns more calories than driving does? Just make sure your jokes aren’t too over their heads; now would not be the time to make a joke about “burning” calories!
In short: know thy audience!
4. Practice makes perfect
This entry is dedicated to the people who have helped make my public speaking so much better.
First, a shout out to my cat, Peepee! Without him, I would never have learned how to stand in front of an audience and talk about myself with confidence and clarity.
In case you’re wondering, he has no idea what he did.
Secondly, a shout out to the people who have taught me so much about public speaking. First up:
- Katie Klammer from the University of Washington; she’s going to kill it when she gives her presentation on Friday at UW! She’s going for her second degree in Spanish literature and is about as sweet as can be in person (and a pretty good public speaker too!).
- Chris Ewen from Seattle Central College; he’s doing his presentation on Tuesday at SCC; he ended up not getting approved for his planned presentation on Friday because of a schedule conflict but we should still do our practice speech together:)
5. Visual aids
Don’t be afraid to use visual aids, they are a great way to add some interest and variety to your speech. Try not to overload your audience with too much information though.
If you have one key point you want your audience to remember, try a bold image that just screams “remember me.” Then maybe add one more image or graph if it helps explain your point.
One of the easiest ways to become an expert in public speaking is by watching others. Watch Youtube videos of famous speakers like Barack Obama and Maya Angelou.
Watch old speeches from Martin Luther King Jr and Colin Powell. Take notes on what they do well and try to incorporate those techniques into your own speech style. If you are a beginner who wants to speak more in Public you should do this more often
6. Be confident
You can fake your way to confidence. Confidence is not only a feeling of being sure, it’s also an act of being sure.
This means, that if you act confident on stage, you’ll look confident on stage—even if you’re quaking in your boots at the moment.
That takes some pressure off of you and puts it on the audience to believe what they’re seeing is true.
What do I mean by “act confident?” Here are a few examples:
- Fake a smile: Remind yourself that even though your mind may be running circles around itself with anxiety and uncertainty, your confidence is an artifice right now that can’t be detected by the naked eye (unless you’re sweating profusely). Smiling helps put people at ease, so plaster that grin across your face and keep it there! It may feel awkward or silly at first but nothing beats a smiling professional who knows how to own his or her craft—and public speaking mastery is something you should strive for anyway.
- Make eye contact and use hand gestures: Eye contact will help connect with your audience and using hand gestures provides emphasis for points that really matter in your speech. You don’t want to overdo these things or else it becomes distracting from whomever or whatever point you were trying to make, but just enough peppered throughout will make all the difference in helping maintain that air of confidence about yourself on stage.
7. Be conversational
I’m not a natural public speaker by any stretch of the imagination. I’m more of a “silence for dramatic effect” type, but these days I’ve found that it doesn’t really work for me when I have to talk in front of people.
It’s weird and awkward, so I’ve gotten better at using pauses instead. Pause after every sentence and before my next one, to give myself a chance to think of something to say. Use contractions (he/she/it/they) whenever you can, because they make your sentences sound less formal.
Talk in short bursts so that they don’t lose interest while you’re talking and seem like they are waiting for you to finish what you’re saying or repeat yourself.
Public Speaking is hard enough as it is; don’t make it harder by trying to get them interested in what you have to say or show off how smart you are.
Public Speaking Masterclass for beginners
8. Make eye contact
Making eye contact with the audience is one of the most important parts of speaking in public. When you come on stage and start talking, there’s a tendency to look anywhere but at the audience.
You might be staring at your notes, or looking off into space somewhere behind the heads of the audience, maybe you’re even staring at your shoes.
But if you want to make sure that people are actually listening to what you have to say, then you have to make them feel like they’re being heard.
So how do you do that? Well, it starts by looking people in the eye. A lot of people will tell you that this is difficult or uncomfortable, but it really isn’t.
So long as a person doesn’t know they’re being watched (try not to stare), they won’t be self-conscious about it and they won’t notice anything strange at all! Some may also tell you not to look into someone’s eyes too long because then they’ll feel like something’s wrong with them. The truth is – if someone feels like something’s wrong with them when you look at them for more than three seconds straight – there probably IS something wrong with them!
9. Body language and voice projection are key.
When you’re presenting, your audience is looking at you. They are listening to what you say, reading the slides that you have put together for them, and taking in every single thing about you.
This means that body language and voice projection are key.
Stand up straight: own your space! Don’t be afraid to use hand gestures, just don’t be too intense with them.
Make sure that people can hear you from all the way in the back of the room, even if there are people talking over each other while they wait for their lunch orders to come out (which will inevitably happen).
Speak loudly enough so that everyone can hear you without resorting to shouting or yelling—it should sound as though your voice is amplified by a microphone even if it’s not.
And finally… breathe. You know what I mean: when we get nervous we tend to speak quickly and start running our words together like we’re a runaway train about to crash into somebody’s house. Don’t do this—it only makes it harder for people to understand what you’re saying. Instead of thinking about how many more minutes there are left in your presentation time frame, take a deep breath and pause before starting the next sentence or section — this will show that you know what you’re talking about because it conveys confidence, which leads me right into my next point…
There are several steps that you can take to help improve the overall quality of your public speaking.
Some people are convinced that their first time speaking in public will be a success.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter how many speeches you’ve given before or how experienced you think you are, there’s always a little bit of anxiety involved when you step on stage.
If anything, your “performance anxiety” should be even stronger the first time! To help combat this natural fear and make your next public speech (or any speech) a success, here are some tips from me – the world’s most awkward personal trainer:
- Use visual aids.
An effective speaker relies heavily on visuals to help make his points more memorable for his audience.
For example, I’ll show you something with numbers instead of words – which way does it go? Do I have to raise my voice? Do I have to look at my notes?
- Practice is good for the mind and body too!
I’m not talking about dancing around in circles like Michael Jackson so that no one can see what you’re doing, but rather staying active and moving around while preparing your talk.
This helps “burn off” some nervous energy while also stretching out muscles that might cramp up while speaking or moving around on stage (after all, if they’re already tight when being introduced by the chairperson, what chance do they have?).
Keep it simple: DO NOT do exercises or stretches throughout your preparation…unless they’re included by accident in the PowerPoint slide deck..in which case …we don’t talk…
- Speak slowly & clearly…when possible!
I know everyone says this but okay okay okay okay we get it already – slow down! When someone speaks faster than normal, their tone gets higher and higher until it starts breaking into an almost-screaming-but-not-quite screech! And since we all hear faster than we speak…we tend to speed up as well when we think someone is going too fast!!!
Your tone should match your speed naturally
Public speaking can put you in a state of fear and dread. It is an uncomfortable prospect that induces anxiety in even the most confident of individuals.
However, there are some basic tips and tricks to help you overcome this fear. The first thing you need to do is know what causes your nerves and figure out a way to eliminate that cause.
If you are scared because you don’t like standing in front of large crowds, speak at smaller gatherings until you get over your fear of public speaking.
Armed with this knowledge, it is easy to create your own public speaking journey, Thanks for reading the Public Speaking for Beginners, hope to see you succeed
What is your number one Public Speaking Tip?