Eight public speaking tips

Do you have a big presentation coming up? Or do you need to prepare a speech for a wedding? Check out these tips to get you started.

  1. Get comfortable on the stage/screen

    If you are on a stage, make sure you have things where you need them; e.g. adjust the lectern to the right height for you, so you aren’t having to lean down, or you aren’t hidden by it! You might want to have a drink of water nearby and your notes, if you need them. If you are presenting online, make sure you have your notes where you need them and your camera at the right level. Ensure that your background is relatively clear of clutter/distractions. Take a few moments and don’t rush to start.

  2. Pause!

    Try and slow down! Most of us speak too fast, especially if we are nervous. Try and take a few sips of water during a speech as this gives people time to process what you have told them.

  3. Vocal variety and volume

    Make sure you can be heard ok. Try to vary your tone and pitch, to keep the audience really engaged. To emphasise a point, you might say it louder, for example. “This is REALLY important.”

  4. Body language

    Body language makes a huge difference. It can help to make a speech really memorable. This works with both in-person and online presentations. With online presentations, be aware of where your camera is and what can be seen (e.g. your hand gestures should be in view if you use your hands to express yourself). If you are giving a presentation online, remember where the camera is (and try not to look down too much).

  5. Think about what to wear

    Make sure you wear something comfortable, appropriate and ideally not too distracting. Personally, if I am giving an important presentation, I would probably wear a suit, as I feel more confident. Also, be sure to check yourself in the mirror before you go on stage/online – make sure you have everything done up (that should be!) and tucked in! You don’t want your audience staring at a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ instead of concentrating on what you are saying.

  6. Humour

    Humour is an interesting one. Used well in a speech, it can make it even more impactful. It needs to be used carefully, e.g. at weddings – thinking about the whole audience and whether something is appropriate for Granny (for example!) It’s a good idea to test out your speech on someone that you trust, to see if the humour works.

  7. Notes

    Try to have ‘top line’ notes, rather than the whole speech written out. A speech that is read out can seem a bit unnatural, but most of us need a few notes to help guide us through a speech.

  8. Practice… and join us!

    The more you practice public speaking, the better you will get (like almost anything else!) At Worthing Speakers Club you can join in a little to begin with and then take on bigger roles, that involve more public speaking and leadership. For example, the timekeeper role is relatively straightforward and involves reporting back on the times people did their speeches in. A more complex role would be a speech evaluator. As a member, you can also have a mentor to help you develop your skills. You can start to plan, write and deliver a range of speeches and you will get feedback on what you are doing well and ways to improve. Our meetings are twice a month, so there is plenty of opportunity to practise regularly. You are very welcome to come along to a couple of meetings before joining, to see if you think it would help you.

I hope these tips help you with your public speaking. I know I have personally learnt a huge amount from being part of Worthing Speakers Club. Get in touch to find out about our next meeting. We hope to see you soon!

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