100 public speaking tips. Now that is a handful but do not despair. Just adopting a few a day, or a few a week can hopefully help you!
Now as you probably know, My name is Aren Deu, and I am far from a Public Speaker despite spending the past 3-4 months at Toastmasters.
So I thought id throw that caveat out there first before you compare me to Tony Robbins, or Eric Thomas. But I was the shyest, most nervous guy you have ever met who battled for 20+ years with Anxiety.
In fact my anxiety was so bad during my teen years I also developed a back condition due to consistent hunch-back walking and never looking at people in the eyes. But that is a story for another day!
So fast-forward to today, things are slightly different.
Utilising my self development, mindset hacks and just facing my fears daily I have managed to speak in front of people!
Some of my experience to date
So of course, there is the corporate world, where I had my fair share of presentations to deliver:
1. I have spoken in front of 200+ prisoners, their families and prison staff. That was definitely nerve-wracking.
2. I have spoken in front of my university class mates. This was big for me!
3. I have spoken in front of my ex boxing club. This was fun and rewarding.
4. I have spoken and finished 2nd a national Toastmasters competition.
5. I have spoken a few more times this, but this post isn’t about 100 places Aren has spoken now is it? Besides, that would be pretty tedious to read.
6. I have spoken a few more times this, but this post isn’t about 100 places Aren has spoken now is it? Besides, that would be pretty tedious to read.
I guess you could say my life is about overcoming my fears, mainly anxiety. Overcoming my anxiety, by rising up and facing my fears daily s has done wonders for my confidence and growth. I have since launched a very successful podcast called Find Your Voice which has been a proud achievement for me and one I hope 1 day inspires you all.
But my hope is after this, with some practice your public speaking will improve. For anyone with anxiety of public speaking too, as I know this is common I truly hope it helps you too.
Okay, okay, where are the tips?
So anyway, without further ado lets jump into why you clicked to read this and go through the 100 public speaking tips:
3, 2, 1….
1. Build your confidence.
So whether you are confident or not, this is something you need to master and improve/work on. The best way to do this is to practice, practice and practice. Once you become confident, you will realise the importance and impact of your public speaking.
Remember people will buy more into the way you say your message, or speech, rather than the exact message details you are speaking about.
2. Man in the mirror.
If you want to improve your public speaking skills, then you should practice in front of the mirror. This will allow you would be to see how you look like while doing your speeches. Remember your body language, hand gestures, eye contact are just as important as your spoken words.
3. Passion is everything.
Your level of interest in your topic will translate into your message. If you want to engage the audiences to listen to you, then you need to sound interesting. If you want to sound interesting, you really need to be interested. Make sense?
You see the more interested you are, the more passion you will have for it.
For example, let’s do a quick exercise.
Think of your favourite food. Think about having it today, right this second, without any guilt or fear that the calories it contains will affect your body composition. Now think about persuading your best friend to take a bite or sip. How easy would that be?
Now flip it and think about celery. If you are 1 of the 6 people in the world who likes celery think of something you have no idea about, like or ever want to try. Now try to persuade someone to take a piece of that? More difficult right?
4. Improve your memory.
Improving your memory can help with public speaking. Whether you are a visual, auditory or text book learner you have to remember what you are talking about. Hey I’ve even been told playing mind games like Sudoku can help enhance your memory.
A tip I do is, have a few bullet points and I doodle an image about my speech. I then remember the image, during my speech and the bullet points (which are very short) spring to mind!
5. Look the part.
So I am guilty of doing my first few speeches, with hoods on, relaxed jeans and big parka coats. I felt comfortable but whether we wish to or not, we are always being judged. People will have an initial perception about you before you speak. Therefore try and look the part for that particular audience. Plus looking good, will enhance your confidence!
We all know that when we look good, we start to feel good.
6. Learn about public speaking.
So only until I embarked on public speaking did I realise what a key skill it was. I naively thought it was for extroverts and they would just excel at it, leaving us introverts watching in awe. Now I know how ignorant that currently sounds as i write this. Some of the greatest speakers I’ve come across are introverts and similarly not all extroverts are brilliant at public speaking.
So realising that it is a skill that needs to be developed, through understanding the various different techniques, tips and tricks to help you build your own style. I have now started to immerse myself into learning about it. A couple of tips for you all, could be to just start by watching people on YouTube. Then maybe go and see them in person and take notes, then go make it your own.
7. Get help, put your ego aside.
Get help from experts in their field. Hey if you want a personal trainer, you’d ask a Personal Trainer right? (Cough, cough me!) Similarly if you want to become a better speaker you would benefit from working with someone who is doing exactly what you wish to do. They will save you so many steps and fast track your progress!
Alternatively you can join Toastmasters or similar organizations to help you, like I did!
8. Start now, no matter how small.
The thought of large crowds can be overwhelming. So why not start in a few smaller spaces? Build that confidence and work your way up. I sincerely hope you understand that I truly mean it, when I say if I can do this so can you! Trust me, I failed and came bottom of my class, during my undergraduate degree in speaking. I was terrible. But the beauty of being so poor when you start, is that you can only get better.
9. Look after your voice.
So my first national toastmasters speaking competition had my nerves bouncing of the walls. As a result of this I practised so much I almost lost my voice!
I’ve also drank far too much Jameson on a night before only to be woken up by dry mouth for the majority of the day. Not a good look and it doesn’t sound too great either! So you have to look after it.
10. Alter your delivery.
Don’t speak at the same pace, pitch and volume the whole way through. You will likely put people to sleep or notice throughout your speech them switching off and losing interest which will only affect your nerves further and delivery. Try to learn to emphasise certain parts of your speech, speed up where necessary, raise your voice where you need too or completely slow it down if the speech or moment requires that.
11. Give it time.
You should keep in mind that it can take some time to become a skilled presenter. Public speaking is not something you just suddenly master. The more public speaking you do, the more you realise the skill behind it. I initially tried to do a Toastmasters pathway, (that is the curriculum) in the first month. I was so eager to just do speeches, after speeches not realising that developing skills takes hours of practice. The more you can practice your skills and the more you can get yourself out there, utilising the tips and tricks I’ve listed here the more chance you have of becoming the best speaker you can become.
12. Be hungry!
No, I am not talking about food here. I am talking about pure, grit, willpower, determination. I am talking about a hunger to succeed and to become the best you can be. Your level of hunger will help you determine how much you are willing to prepare for your speeches, how much you are willing to study techniques, tips and tricks to be the best you can possibly be. It is okay to just want it, but if you are truly determined to succeed as a public speaker you have to be starving!
13. Be persistent.
So as above, you need to be persistent when it comes to public speaking. You will not be successful overnight, you will not become the best speaker once you hit a certain number of speeches. It really does take time, hard work and practice. You have to endure this, by attending more public speaking events, doing more speeches and just putting yourself out there, over and over and over again!
14. Listen back to yourself.
Practising public speaking can go a long way, providing you are watching yourself back and being honest about your feedback. Practice can also make permanent so get ready for self constructive criticism, or even better ask your friends and family to check. Check for tonality, pacing, cadence, pitch etc all matter when you are trying to improve your public speaking.
15. Be authentic.
My authentic nature, before I knew authenticity was even a thing helps me. I often speak about my anxiety, nervousness and fear of public speaking. I often use my examples of adversity or circumstances when I deliver speeches rather than utilise a story from a celebrity or someone else. Why? Because this is real and you will likely find it will resonate and relate to many more people. We all go through similar situations in life and we are all facing similar fears and obstacles. Creating a safe environment where you let your guard down may just persuade your audience to do the same.
16. Grab your audience’s attention.
One of the best tips I can tell you is to be either educational, engaging or entertaining. Public speaking is so much easier if you can do one of those 3. You also want to try and do this at the start of your public speaking presentation or speech, to get people interested and be attentive towards to what you are about to say next.
17. Prepare beforehand.
Whether you need to research your topic beforehand or not, preparation is still necessary. Do not take public speaking for granted, even if you are one of the 1% who aren’t nervous about it. You would benefit from knowing your topic, well enough to avoid any curve balls, in case someone asked a question or the room doesn’t quite respond to your questions or actions. Knowing the content will at least reduce the chances of fumbling up those lines whilst you react to audience.
18. Tell a story.
One of my favourite things in the world to do, is to tell stories. Story telling is my jam, as I say. So when I do public speaking, I prefer to try and make it flow like a story. Telling a story well, flows well and gives people the chance to create it in their imagination and relate it either to the images in their head or their own personal situations. It is also easier to prepare for, remember and providing its told we’ll gain peoples attention.
19. Prop it up.
Yes, your voice is the number one thing people will pay attention too, but some people are visual learners too. Occasionally, depending on the audience why not add props like visual aids, whiteboards or anything else that may just surprise them and keep them entertained, engaged or educated!
20. Punctuality matters.
One of my pet peeves is people who aren’t punctual. But that is a post for another day. However, you have to be mindful that you are adhering within the time guidelines set for the arena you are doing your public speaking in. It’s difficult to keep people entertained for extensive periods of time and it’s difficult to ensure you are within your allocation. So what I recommended here is to at least know certain parts of your speech and what time roughly you should be at, or have left. If you are 1/2 way through your speech and you have used up 80% of your allocated time, you may need to speed up!
21. Watch masters in public speaking more often.
Whether it would be through seminars or television, you should watch masters in public speaking more often. This way, you get to take note of their techniques, their habits, and other good practices. Watch them, so that you can also get a better idea on what makes them successful public speakers.
A quick tip here though is to make sure your delivery is authentic. Yes Tony Robbins is a master at his at craft, yes Eric Thomas rocks the tracksuit and delivers fire but that doesn’t mean you have to be exactly like them.
22. Check the venue
Check the venue you are speaking at beforehand! Public speaking, at least for me is easier when I know the layout beforehand. Ideally as early as possible, it would benefit you to visit the room or the venue prior to going live. It will allow you to become familiar with the environment, where you are going to present exactly and the general layout of the room. This will allow you to visualise the speech and have no surprises when you deliver.
23. Know your audience.
Learning more about your audience can help you a lot when it comes to the kind of speech or presentation you want to have. For example, if you are going to present in front of professionals, then you may want to keep it more formal. Of course the odd joke here and there might not hurt either? But similarly if you are presenting in front of a younger generation, then being ‘suited and booted’ may not be the best look to inspire or catch their initial attention.
24. Be sober.
So, if you’re like me the idea of drinking a few shots of vodka prior to a speech sounds like a genius plan. Public speaking and alcohol should not mix. Leave the soda water to mix in alcohol instead. But at the same time, a few shots of vodka will also see me slurring, forgetting my lines and likely going off on tangents!
Learn to gain courage by being sober, and having a clear thought process despite any nerves or anxiety you may be feeling. Additionally it will also prevent dry mouth. Besides as great as we all think we are when we’re drunk, it’s very likely we would sound much better sober!
25. Spend as much time as possible as you can learning your speech.
Spend as much time as you can learning about your topic, if you are not familiar with it. Preparation is key for speeches, regardless of how great you think you are. You can always be better. Treat every speech like it is your last and most important and invest the time in it before hand.
26. Question your speech
Likely, you may be asked questions either during or after your speech. It is therefore a good idea to have some idea or think about the types of questions people could ask. Even if this means pinpointing them to other services you may have it will help. One of the things I always do is get my friends and family to play devils advocate and ask me awkward questions about the speech prior to me delivering it. This helps massively.
27. Practice your style of speaking more.
Now similar to preparing, it is just as important to practice your hand gestures, your pacing, volume of words and style as much as possible. Knowing when to do certain actions are key and the more you do it, the more it’ll be forced into your subconscious helping you achieve better outcomes when you actually deliver. more you are going to practice your presentation, the more you would become an expert on it. Thus, you should practice more often. Practice in front of your kid, your spouse, your dog, as well as in front of the mirror. Time your presentation, and give more emphasis on those points that are more challenging.
28. Comfort is key.
So if your like me, dressing up in a 3 piece suit to deliver a speech will make me feel so awkward! I would begin on the wrong foot and the nerves and anxiety would be hit from the start. So therefore it is important to find the right balance between comfortable and also appropriately dressed for the room you are speaking in front of.
29. Be positive.
Affirmations, self talk, Rocky III music. It all works if you do it right. The amount of empowering talk I have with myself, even on days I am not delivering a speech is high! Remember, as a man thinketh! Besides you know what else is great about being positive rather than pessimistic or negative, it costs nothing and anyone can do it! No barriers to entry and free makes it a no brainer.
30. Ensure you deliver the message for your audience.
Remember, fist and foremost this speech is about delivering a message to your audience and that can’t be lost in translation. It can’t be lost in your jokes, presentation, or show! So it is important to begin with the end in mind. What does my audience need to hear from me in order to obtain maximum value, then work that into your speech and go deliver it! Make it about them and you will also take the emphasis of yourself.
31. Back up plan.
So I prefer to do my speeches, well rehearsed knowing exactly what I want to say in some logical order. I don’t remember it word for word but I do have a clear vision in my head. However, if you have done speeches previously you will know it never goes 100% how you plan it. Sometimes you will miss stuff out, say random stuff or just forget a key point. This is where I recommend you have some back up notes as a worse case scenario. It can be a picture, bullet points, slides or whatever it is that will help you continue your flow should it get interrupted.
32. Don’t beat yourself up.
OK so I need to do this myself. But just because I don’t do it, doesn’t mean I don’t want you to do it. Don’t be too hard on yourself, if you feel that you have not given your presentation a hundred percent. Always remember that you can always make some adjustments on your upcoming presentations, so that you can improve further. Aside from that, it does not necessarily mean that your audience did not enjoy your speech, if you think that it was not good.
33. What’s the worst that can happen?
As Dr Pepper explains, what is the worst that can happen? When you realise, the chances of you dying delivering a public speech are 1,000,000 x lower than you dying on the way there or leaving then that should at least give you some reassurance. When you put it into perspective and see it as an opportunity to help and serve others, whilst also honing your own craft it becomes a lot less daunting!
34. [Not my point] – Avoid saying your nervous.
So I am still on the fence (2019) on this one. I sometimes tell my audience I am nervous and I generally find them very accepting of me putting myself out there. However, as this point was given to me from people more experienced it makes sense hearing their viewpoint too. I was told that if you tell people you are nervous they may assume you are inexperienced and it could heighten your overall nerves.
Again I suppose it comes down to who you are delivering in front of. If you are delivering an important speech in front of a client then it may not be useful to advertise your insecurities. On the flip side if you are delivering a speech in a room of peers, or people who are trying to overcome their own insecurities then showcasing your own nerves may give them inspiration and hope that it is not just them who suffer public speaking and that they too can grow outside of their comfort zones too.
35. Try your best!
Every time you speak in front of a crowd, make it a point to always give it your best shot. Public speaking, means you are talking whilst others have given up their time to listen. Time is everyones most important commodity, so be mindful of that when you start public speaking. This means that you should always try to make it your best speech ever. By doing it this way, you are always challenging yourself to be better on it, and you are recognising the fact that there is always room for improvement.
36. Monitor the speed at which you talk.
So besides occasionally feeling a barrage of nerves I also speak like I am auditioning for a rap battle. I speak fast basically. So one of the things I have to consciously be aware of is the speed at which I talk and deliver my speech. You don’t want to make it too difficult for people that they are having to concentrate too much.
37. Look at their foreheads or just above their eyes.
Now I am a firm believer that if you look someone in the eyes, you can build a rapport as it can be a powerful emotional experience. But if you are nervous and new to this, try and look at people almost just missing their eye line and stay there for a few seconds. They wont know that you aren’t directly looking at them (depending on how far you are from them on your stage/platform) but it will also show them you are acknowledging them and speaking to them. It is important to move your vision across different areas of the crowd too.
38. Take deep breaths.
Controlling your sympathetic nervous system through breathing should always be a focus, irrespective of your level of nerves. This is highly linked to the ‘fight or flight’ analogy that you may be familiar with. Taking in deep breathes, in through your nose and out through your mouth a minimum of 6 times can massively help sooth and calm you down.
39. Lighten up.
Nope, you don’t need to shed a few pounds (my attempt at light-hearted humour). In my short existence on this earth I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of smiling. It’s a natural remedy to feeling better and releasing stress and increasing happiness. So if you can incorporate some element of humour in your speech, depending on your topic and audience of course, then I would urge you to do this.
P.s. I am not talking about knock knock jokes, here unless it’s one i’ve never heard before!
40. Mistakes are Inevitable.
Remember you will make a mistake or two. Public speaking, like anything in life requires practice and finessing. Now we have addressed this, don’t worry about it. I have said words in the wrong tense, used adjectives that just sounded so awkward or even failed to get my pronunciation out right! But I keep going and you will be surprised it’s hardly picked up on, or it’s relevance in your overall speech is so minimal that you would be mad worrying about it.
41. Keep it short and simple.
Know your time limit and know when and where you are rambling. Rambling and taking longer then the expected speech will not go down well with the crowd. Remember how important your time is? Well so is everyone else’s.
42. View yourself as the messenger.
Remember this speech/presentation is rarely going to be about you. You have been asked to speak about a topic and you need to see yourself as the messenger of that particular message. This message is what people are coming to hear.
It is highly unlikely that you would be asked to give a presentation about yourself or your life story. Thus, always keep in mind that your presentation is not about you. It is actually about the topic that you are going to talk about. With that, view yourself as the messenger that would convey the information to the audience, so that you can focus more on that, instead of focusing on yourself.
43. Try to fake it.
If you don’t have confidence when it comes to public speaking, then you should try and fake it. Faking it means that you should try to act that you are confident, when you are in front and talking to your audience. By doing that, they would listen to you more attentively, and eventually, you would even gain the confidence you didn’t have. Most people assume I am confident, and have no idea I would rather leave, run away and do anything else other than delivery on a public stage. But because I appreciate the importance of my message which I want to deliver it keeps me focused and ‘faking’ it. Remember you are only faking it to act like the person you want to become.
44. Just be yourself.
Remember a lot of us are inspired by others and we watch others in the field of public speaking and sometimes find ourselves guilty of copying them. The reason I oppose you copying them is, is because you lose the ability to show your true unique gift and although you may not see that right now, you will have a unique delivery, approach and gift you can harness if you are willing to find it. Of course take the good points and learn from the best, but just always be you! People will appreciate you for that, and your authenticity will show.
45. Practice yoga.
So this is something the other half has told me to do. Yes Yoga apparently relieves you from stress, but it can also maintain the health of your voice and your throat. Thus, you should practice yoga more often. By performing
certain yoga techniques, you would be able to clear your throat, and prevent all sorts of problems that are related to your voice.
46. Audience comes first.
Always remember that your audience is the most important part of your presentation. Don’t forget that every time you have a presentation, it is not for yourself, but for your audience. Thus, you should keep in mind that they are the most important part of your presentation. With that, make sure that you are able to deliver a speech that can catch their attention, so that they would be able to benefit from it.
47. Say what the audience want to hear.
So I am sure we can all agree that saying what we are comfortable with is a lot easier than saying something we aren’t. However it is important we deliver/say what the audience has come to hear, irrespective of your comfort levels. The majority of people who are listening to you are hoping to learn from your presentation and speech. Therefore you should focus more on what they need and really focus that as the main objective for your speech.
48. Fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail
So we all realise that failing to prepare could lead us to inevitably failing when we try to do something, especially when it requires a level of skill, competence and practice.
But what about when you are asked to do a speech you aren’t prepared for? What do you do then? I know from experience I have had to do this in my corporate work jobs and reflecting in hindsight that the reason I was asked to deliver the speech or presentation was due to their trust in my ability to deliver. So this should be the first thing you should tell yourself. Secondly remember it is a journey and this will allow you to learn and grow in your public speaking presentations as you will learn about improvisation, handling impromptu requests and in turn build your confidence.
49. People snoozing on you
So how about the fear of, “What if someone falls asleep while I am talking, or gets bored and gets distracted”. While it is almost impossible to ensure you can maintain every single persons concentration levels you can potentially ‘wake’ up those who may not be listening to you. This can be done by looking in their direction, although not necessarily at them, raising your tone or voice or walking closer to their direction. I am sure we can all remember as a kid switching off in class and hearing a teacher or feeling their eyes in our path which suddenly causes you to wake up!
50. Arrive at the venue early.
When you arrive late at the venue where you are going to do your presentation, you may not be able to prepare yourself properly for it. Thus, it is best if you can be at the place at least 30 minutes either before your speech, or even before the program starts. By doing that, you can do all the necessary preparations you need, in order to feel more comfortable and be at ease at the place. 51. Nervous energy can be good.
Nerves are okay and common so don’t be too worried about being nervous, since it is perfectly normal. However you are probably thinking then how on earth do recognised public speakers look so comfortable? This comes down to confidence. In fact, most of my best interviews, speeches and performances have come when I have deep down felt at my most comfortable and confident. It is this intrinsic belief that if you learn to hone it, develop it you can show an outer exterior that others would not associate nervousness with.
Focus is key when delivering your speech as you do not want to let distractions deter you from your message and delivery. It is therefore good to try and think about potential distractions so that when they do come about you won’t overreact to them. These could include, people walking out for toilet breaks, phones ringing or people having a chat midway through.
53. Be aware of your room.
Delivering speeches in rooms with windows, unorthodox shapes or layouts that don’t provide your typical stage-seated areas can pose potential distractions. For example, I did a speech in a prison once where the windows showed the courtyard of other prisoners who were given their 1 hour of exercise. It left most of the inmates close to the windows being distracted and staring outside.
Simarly, I have entered room which have suddenly been reconfigured in terms of their chairs altering my whole starting position and delivery. This caused me to not be able to move side to side but instead back to front and meant I could not use the podium either.
54. Clear your thoughts.
The last thing you want to do prior to a speech is to remember an argument, or the person who cut you up on the way to the venue. This is why preparation is key as circumstances can change at anytime, which can cause you to get distracted last minute and elevating your nervousness and stress. Knowing you know your stuff will alleviate that deep down so your only focus then can be to get your mind right.
55. Don’t forget to check the sound system.
Speaking in front of a large crowd can be frustrating, if you know that some people seated at the back are not able to hear you well. Thus, make sure that the venue can offer a good sound system. Aside from having adequate volume, the sound should also be in good quality, so that people would be able to understand you perfectly.
Self talk is important. So start to use empowering words about your speech delivery and how you want people to see you: “Powerful, persuasive, composed, confident” etc. These will slowly but surely begin to translate into your messages, voices, physical posture and demeanour.
57. Never apologise for being unprepared.
Now if you are suddenly brought out of the crowd, during events or speeches its acceptable. But if you are having to suddenly fill in a spot or take on a presentation with short notice, providing the topics are within your comfort zone you should continue to present without apologies. Remember they are listening to you, almost as an authority and won’t necessarily have high expectations for what you are going to say.
Of course this needs to be case by case, because if you suddenly become a house hold name and think not preparing is okay then you may simply end up doing a complete disservice to your audience.
58. Utilise speech notes.
It is also useful to have some notes and depending on the environment index cards always serve a good purpose. These generally help prompt your speeches and allow you to continue your speech should you ever find yourself getting stuck when speaking.
Of course you want to ensure they aren’t full of text and you don’t simply end up reading your whole presentation from them.
59. Understand the tech!
Too often I have seen people not understand the software and hardware being used to for the presentations. Make sure your data is on somewhere that can be accessed from all types of laptops and tablets. The cloud is always a good place to store your presentation slides and notes so you will only therefore require Wi-Fi. Again make sure the place has wi-fi and at the very least you have tethering available on your mobile phone!
60. Speak their language.
Sometimes people are fixated on using long words to look impressive or showcase their knowledge in a way that may not always be necessary. You see people generally want to be able to understand the message and teachings of your presentation without needing an Oxford or Collins dictionary to hand.
Of course a mixed use of vocabulary is good, but just be careful of overusing jargon. Any acryonyms you used, be sure to let the audience know exactly what they are.
61. Sales presentation
For any of you who are doing presentations or speeches in sales, know that motivation has to be a key part theme behind your message. You will also likely need to heighten your energy and enthusiasm and again this may come through experience but monotone explanations of what they need to do won’t cut it. You will be required to lift the audience and spark something in them, that provokes positive thoughts leading to action.
62. You won’t make everyone happy.
As with anything in the world, your message will always divide opinions. Sometimes, 90/10, sometimes 50/50 or sometimes somewhere in between. The fact is, you will rarely ever have everyone buying 100% into your message. We all view the world differently and we all have different perceptions of how we see the world. Therefore, knowing this beforehand, will mean you won’t get disheartened when everyone isn’t as enthusiastic as you may have hoped for.
63. A presentation is not the time to wear something new.
Trying out a new pair of shoes in a presentation may not be a very good idea. This is because, you still do not know, whether wearing it can still be comfortable even after standing for quite some time. This is also applicable to wearing a new shirt or a new pair of pants, since you want to be very comfortable during your speech.
64. Project that voice of yours.
So there is a fine line between screaming at the top of your lungs, shouting and projecting your voice for impact and purpose. It is important depending on your presentation/speech that you project your voice enough to get your message across. Projecting your voice is essential in order to make sure that people can hear you clearly.
65. Mistakes happen, but not everyone needs to know.
So stumbling, fumbling or making mistakes in your speech are inevitable when you deliver speeches at some stage. However the likelihood that the people listening will notice is low. Therefore rather than draw attention to it, your best bet is to continue and carry on with your speech. Also drawing attention to it, may also cause you to potentially cause you to stress yourself out further.
66. Utilising white/black boards for presentations.
Recently, we have been asked to used whiteboards, or visual aids when presenting. A few things, that may seem very simply now but could save you embarrassment on the day include: 1: Ensuring you have the correct writing material, 2: Ensuring they haven’t run out, 3: Making sure your writing is visible to the scope of the people attending.
Also be mindful that you don’t want to be writing too much down, as it could cause people to switch off, especially as your body language and attention will not be focused on them entirely.
67. Don’t let PowerPoint ruin your presentation.
One of the most common applications used for presentations is PowerPoint. Be sure that you have the format saved to accommodate for different operating systems, such as iOS and Windows. In addition, it won’t harm you to know your way around PowerPoint in case of any technical difficulties in formatting or the slides not automatically working, which has happened to me before.
68. To script or not to script.
While it is true that you can come up with your own script for a presentation, it is not actually a good idea to use a full script for the whole part of it. This is because, it can make you sound boring. Aside from that, people can also notice that you lack in emotion. Thus, make a script for your presentation just for the purpose of having guide for it, so that people would appreciate it more.
69. Practice your entrance.
Arriving early at the venue where you are going to do your speech can definitely give you a chance to practice your entrance. It can also let you imagine and visualise the speech taking place. I am a keen believer in running through the day in your head, practising it almost in your head. Yes it may not exactly go to plan, but it helps so much on the day to build confidence.
70. Call to action.
Some speeches require you to sell a service, product or yourself! In this circumstances, knowing where to add this is so important. I have seen people mention it openly and honestly at the front of a speech, midway through a speech or sometimes just as they finish.
It is not something I know the 100% right answer too, and I guess each situation is different. But you can rarely go wrong with doing an Q&A section for your audience at the end and then offering the call to action as you are delivering further value and showing interest in giving them answers to their questions.
71. Check your voice level
Probably the simplest one right? But not everyone does this. I have sat in presentations or speeches where people have spoken so low I could barely hear a word they was saying. Yes it doesn’t help I always tend to sit at the back, but still we should always expect people to sit where there are allocated seats and ensure we can project our voice to be heard.
72. Check your text/graphics sizes.
Similar to the last point, it is important everything you are presenting through any additional resources must be legible and visible to the crowd from all angles. Be mindful that not all layouts of venues are in a straight line and sometimes you will need to adapt to the room.
73. Don’t rely on your slides too much.
Now to play devil’s advocate. Don’t over use powerpoint slides. Yes they can provide some great value and mix up a presentation but simply having slides, upon slides to deliver your presentation could be a recipe for disaster. You may find people simply reading the slides and paying attention to them, rather than hearing you out and connecting personally with your message.
Personal connection is so important, for people to really buy into your message. Having a powerpoint slide do this, would negate that impact you could have and therefore I recommend personally to limit the slides to key trigger points or useful data.
74. Phones off please.
Yes, even you! I have actually put my phone on silent in most my speeches but recently I had a consistent vibration of calls during one of my 6 minute speeches. Now this instantly got me anxious, especially as I knew my partner wasn’t too well that day so quickly I started thinking of the worst situations midway through my speech.
In fact I even remember stuttering and missing a whole point off my speech, and finishing it earlier due to being thrown off. Your sole focus during a speech should be to deliver the message 100% whole heartedly to your audience for their benefit. Any distractions can deter you from being able to provide that impact.
75. Know why your audience come to your presentation.
So continuing on from making the message for your audience, you really need to know what they want. Not what you want, what they want to get from the presentation. If you can solve their questions, needs, pain points during your speech or at least direct them accordingly you will notice a much better response and reaction to you and your presentation.
76. Speaking to a mix of people
Sometimes we may be faced, especially in corporate land, to speak in front of people with different skill sets, who each want and desire something different from the speech or presentation. This became really apparent to me in my Project Management years as I would have a whole list of specialities around the table and would really have to ensure my messages were understood for all of them. This is difficult, but if you know your people around the table you can at least cater for them on an individual level if needs be during your speech.
One of the best things I managed to do during my speeches is really cut out the ‘errs’ and ‘urmmms’. In fact I even surprised myself at this. I would recommend you really practice on not using these and focus more on, just maybe slowing down and thinking each time you feel an ‘errr’ or ‘ummm’ come on and compose yourself before you restart, or begin the next few words.
78. Eye of the tiger.
So as mentioned in my introduction, staring people in the eye hasn’t always been easy for me. But there is something special about connecting with someone by looking at them directly.
Now don’t confuse this with a stare off, but your eyes can tell a lot to the person and can show sincerity, confidence and authenticity if you do it right.
Now summarising key points in your speeches can be a brilliant way to remind your audience of what you want them to know or remember. Similarly it could also reaffirm something they needed to understand more fully. It is therefore important to ensure you at least do this somewhere in your presentation as people, including myself have very short attention spans so having a summary of the content can ensure your audience don’t lose the message you are trying to convey.
80. Content is king.
Remember the audience want to learn, feel or reaffirm something in your speech. The way they do this is via the content that you deliver, so ensure the content you provide is valuable. A quick way to do this, is to provide facts, figures or real life examples that your audience can take home and learn from. P.s. wikipedia doesn’t count!
81. Your Body language matters.
Remember that your body language is really important when delivering speeches on stage too. People aren’t only interested in your choice of words. Your hands, your facial expressions, your movement across the stage etc all have influence on your speech.
Therefore make sure you are at least aware of how you ‘act’ whilst performing. I know when I first started, the idea of just moving around and engaging with the audience was terrifying although now I am up and down the stages trying to make a positive impact to each and every individual.
82. Remember your handouts!
Sometimes handouts, whether they are your flyers, business cards or resources you are providing the audience for free are key to leaving a lasting impression. I have often forgot to have my resources available at the end of the speech and had people request my information only for me to feel stupid and say “errr I use Facebook?”. Yes it increases my overall facebook friend amount but what about giving them something personal that they can take home and contact you via?
83. Act out your message.
Okay, this isn’t an audition for a movie but it does require you to just a bit more than speak. Even if it is simple gestures like pointing to the ceiling, when you refer to something high up, or clasping your hands to show a form of togetherness. Whatever it is, your speaking off sometimes you can benefit from gesturing it out to emphasise its importance. Of course this does not mean you need to act out your whole speech, but just try and utilise this skill as and when appropriate to really improve your speech deliveries.
84. Q&As are your best friend.
Now, not every presentation requires a Q&A but where possible and appropriate you can benefit massively by giving the audience a chance to connect 1-2-1 with you and offer them real value. If they pose a question you are able to provide an answer too they will not only value you higher, but so will the audience who will realise you know your stuff!
85. Prepare for the worst.
Sometimes having at least thought about “what’s the worst that could happen” quote Dr Pepper, we can be better prepared if things do not go exactly how we envisaged them to go. Also at least for me personally, I tended to find that thinking about the worst things alleviated so much anxiety and pressure from me. I know what it’s like to be afraid, to be anxious, to choke and just stand there in front of people. So imagining this before going onto stage or speaking (knowing in the back of my head I never died from it) is so much easier.
86. The 1% rule.
For as long as I can remember I have always preached about the 1% rule. In whatever aspect of your life you are focusing on, simply trying to be just 1% than yesterday is a far easier task and feat that can be accomplished then trying to be the next Martin Luther King Jr overnight! No-one is perfect and when we realise this we instantly remove pressure from ourselves. Every beginner started somewhere. Every influencer started as an unknown. Furthermore, every public speaker was once a voice overshadowed by others. Just focus on being better 1% a day and you can achieve your success.
87. Learn from the best.
I love watching ‘my competition’ speak. Now I, as things stand in Q1 2019 have no intention to be a public speaker, but knowing my competitive nature to be better each day love to see others as a friendly challenge. I therefore reframe my revision of successful public speakers into my competition and seek to learn everything that is good and bad about them. The good I can take notes, and practice and hone into my own speeches. The bad I can spin into a positive or avoid doing altogether to not damage my speeches. Learning from those doing it, can be invaluable for your public speaking journey.
88. Get Personal.
I would say that being personal has been the single most effective thing that has helped me build a brand. You see sharing a story about your real life experiences is authentic, earnest and easy to deliver. It is far easier to transform that energy and message to the audience than reciting something you have heard elsewhere. People can also get to know you better as well, so never be afraid to open up.
89. You are the expert.
For most of my speeches I write myself, I always recite this over and over in my head to avoid any stage fright! You see simply knowing my speech inside out means I am already an expert on what I need to say and the audience are likely not going to know what I will say or how I will. This should therefore alleviate any overwhelming expectations you may have and providing you see yourself as the person that people want to listen to for that duration, it should ease your nerves.
I have often suffered tremendously with cold sweats, shaking, trembling of the knees, heart beating louder than my voice when I let the occasion get the better of me. But more recently, taking away the pressure and realising my worth and knowledge, I have managed to perform much better!
90. Nutrition is everything.
Now I don’t advocate any particular diet, but what I do advocate is being sensible and having a diet that is sustainable for your needs. I know personally, 2-5pm is where my day really slumps. I also know that between 6-12 in the morning is where I get my best work done.
Now, I know this is because I eat more nutrient dense foods in the morning before ‘carbing’ up post lunchtime. Now the ‘carbing’ up is something I really look forward too, even though I end up slumping for a short time. But it keeps my diet sustainable. Funnily enough it allows me to pick up energy from 5pm through to around 10pm. Now this may have gone totally over your head. But this should show you how self-aware I am off my own nutrition.
Now knowing this about myself, I would adjust my food portions, choices and timings before my speech. Knowing I often get bloating with certain foods, I would ensure I do not eat those close to my speech. Nobody wants to feel uncomfortable during public speaking. These are all things you and only you know! It is therefore an act of discipline you must learn to adhere to if you want to perform to the best of your ability.
91. Sleep smarter.
One of the most overlooked factors in determining clarity, sharpness and just general good health is sleep quality. I don’t really promote other peoples content unless I really believe in it. But Sleeping smarter is key. If you can hack your sleep with anything from this book you will massively reap the rewards: Sleep Smarter. P.s. this means no heavy drinking the night before!
Okay so you probably think this is turning into a health session but this is really important!! Yes everyone loves coffee (except me) but being hydrated adequately will help you massively. Your levels of concentration will increase as will your clarity. Furthermore, you won’t end up with dry mouth or chapped lips! Of course, over consumption of water can be just as uncomfortable so be mindful not to get overexcited.
Okay my last health related tip I promise. Exercise. There are so many heath benefits to exercising that it requires a blog alone, one which I have probably done somewhere! But energy creates energy! Exercising also improves so many health markers, makes you look better and in return increases confidence. Not to mention the endorphins it releases too! See how easy I showcased so many advantages in just a few sentences. Look the part yes, but make sure you feel the part too!
94. Strive for progress not perfection.
Perfect does not exist. Once you know this, you will hopefully beat yourself up less. However progression is possible each and every time you set out to do a speech. You can progress and still be “poor”. In fact you can be ‘poor’ for years but still progress. The beauty lies in growth and progression and just simply reflecting back to your first moments should fill with you enough satisfaction and belief that you can be better than you was yesterday.
One of the things I have recently started to do, is to try something new or expand on a weak point each time. For example, initially I use to rock back and forth on the spot. I then tried to just stay grounded. Following this I then managed to walk a bit across the speaking area. Following this I then managed to get around to people and really engage with them. Each time, being 1% better than last time!
95. Your personality matters
Everyone has their personality style when they deliver speeches, which is something you will realise very quickly. Some people are naturally funny, others are more intense. Some are very factual and scientific based, whilst others are more conversational. Find your best method of conveying your message and work with that. For me personally I love story telling and I find that is where my best speeches have always come from. Find yours and try and master it.
96. Take control from the off.
Something my boxing trainer always told me before I ever had any fights was to run into the centre of the stage and take control. Now you may not need to run, but taking centre stage and control of the platform you have in front of you can really help establish your presence on stage to the audience. Once in position throw out those opening words, phrases or stories to engage the audience and wow them with your speech.
97. Repeat anything you do not understand.
Often in the beginning of my speeches if I ask a question or more so in the end during the Q&A I get asked a question I can’t instantly think of an answer to. The key here is to by yourself some time by repeating back to the person their question, to confirm it is what they asked but also to give your brain a chance to catch up and answer better. If you are having a question and answer portion, then always remember to repeat the question. Also I have noticed this has helped people in different parts of the venue to hear the question as people from the crowds rarely have microphones to project their words out across the venue.
98. Know the room Temperature.
Now I added this in towards the end, because funnily enough the last time I spoke the central heating decided to give way! Now I am always wrapped up, even as I write this so I was okay. But for the audience there was a fair few disgruntled people complaining about the temperature. Now obviously in this instance I could do very little, but make a statement and half funny joke about it! But at least I wasn’t then delivering a speech whilst shivering.
So my last speech I got called the smiley guy. Taking this as a compliment which I believe it was I realised that smiling during my speech to the audience became contagious and they often smiled back. It then in turn created a positive warm atmosphere where people felt part of the experience. I therefore encourage, if the speech permits, to smile and cheer up those within your vicinity.
100. BE YOU!
….& FINALLY the most important of all is to just be YOU. Not me, not her, not him. Be YOU! I am the best at being me, and you are the best at being you!
We so often get fixated on comparing ourselves with others, that we lose sight of our gifts. We overvalue the gifts in others, and undervalue the beauty in ourselves. This only causes us to lose our spark and deprives the world from what we can give it.
Go out there and be unapologetically YOU, because as things stand we have yet to see anyone with your unique character, personality, accent, delivery, message, experience and knowledge deliver speeches to the world.
P.s If you found this useful I would be very grateful if you could share this with someone else, to help them improve their public speaking! I want people to realise that public speaking does not need to be as difficult as you think.
Also, please do not forget to check out the #FindYourVoice Podcast for more inspiring lessons!