Does the thought of speaking in front of a group of people make you nervous?

Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny on a stage. Elmer looks nervous about public speaking.

Don't worry! You can take steps to become a better public speaker.

Public speaking is a skill you can learn and improve with practice.

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Why Should You Improve Your Public Speaking Skills?

A man on a stage getting ready to speak to an audience

  • Get your message across most effectively. Public speaking skills help you win the audience, motivate others, and communicate ideas in meetings and presentations.

  • Advance in your career. Great oral communication skills help form connections with co-workers, customers, and potential clients.

  • Enhance your leadership skills. Having these skills develops your vocabulary and helps boost your confidence.

Quiz

Which statements are true about public speaking? Select all that apply.

Can You Make A Career Out Of It?

Public speaking isn't just a skill that can give you an edge over others, but you can pursue a career centered around public speaking.

You could build a career as a:

  • Spokesperson

  • Speech writer

  • News anchor

  • Motivational speaker

  • Politician

Gif of two news anchors, a man and a woman introducing themselves.

Tip #1 — Take Time To Prepare A Great Written Speech

  • Know your material. Select a topic that interests you, prepare an outline and give examples and analogies that make your points more relatable.

  • Write down key details as bullet points. Include any important facts, statistics, and figures.

  • Start and end with your most important takeaways. The audience will remember these the most.

  • Memorizing your introduction and conclusion can be a useful strategy.

Image of a young man  wearing a cap, sitting outside and writing in a notebook. Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Tip #2 — Practice Is Essential!

gif of man on stage in front of a microphone, holding papers and looking nervous

  • With practice, you can overcome anxiety and become a more engaging speaker.

  • Record yourself on video. This will help you become aware of your mistakes, allowing you to correct them and make your practice sessions super effective.

  • Practice in front of real people. Ask friends or family to listen to your speech and provide feedback.

  • Use a timer to control the length of your speech.

Tip #3 Work On Your Communication Skills

Non-verbal communication:

  • Pay attention to your pose and posture.

  • Use hand gestures that enhance speech but don't overdo it.

  • Maintain eye contact and avoid distracting mannerisms like moving your arms too much or pacing distractedly.

Verbal communication:

  • Speak in a calm, slow, loud, and clear voice. Emphasize important parts using varying volume and enunciation.

  • Use pauses for effect and to emphasize certain points.

  • Limit filler words and nervous tics, and work to control breathing and tone.

  • Use humor and a conversational tone to connect with your audience.

Gif of Michele Obama giving a motivational speech and using hand gestures to make her point.

Final Words Before You Get On Stage

  • First impressions matter! When you get on stage make sure to dress appropriately for the event, look smart, and hold yourself well.

  • Remember to keep the focus more on the topic and less on the various aspects of your speech or performance.

  • Don't focus on perfection. Pause, take a deep breath, and count to 3 before you speak.

    Gif of Oprah giving an inspiring speech.

Quiz

What should you AVOID if you want to be good at public speaking?

Take Action

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This Byte has been authored by

LS

Larisa Slacke

Educator & Instructional Designer