5 Vital Public Speaking Tips

If you are a frequent visitor to my site, you have probably learnt that I was a two-time captain of the Debate Club in my university while I was undertaking my undergraduate study. Plus, I was also a Toastmasters Club member for around 3 years.

Personally, I don’t consider myself an expert in the field of public speaking even though I have attended many local and international public speaking competitions and experienced public speaking to over 1,000 people in an event. Instead, I would like to call myself an experienced person in the world of presentation, public speaking and communication.

In this article, I would like to share with you guys what I think are the 5 most important Public Speaking Tips. You can take these tips to improve your Public Speaking ability. Trust me when I tell you that Public Speaking skills is crucially important and can actually lead you to the peak of your life especially if your goal is to become a leader in any of your life pursuit.

1. Positive Mental Attitude

Personally, I’ve never heard or seen anyone die of public speaking. So, there is nothing to be afraid of public speaking. It’s easier said than done, right? It truly is, yet such fear can really be overcome.

Many people are afraid of public speaking because they don’t like the feeling of nervousness when they have to stand on the stage and face with many eyes locked on them. In other words, nervousness keeps them stay away from speaking in public.

Personally, I have also undergone the feeling of nervousness in my pursuit of excellence in public speaking. Even though I have a number of experiences giving speech to a group of people, I still feel nervous whenever I am on the stage. I just know how to manage my nervousness well.

How to manage nervousness

If you have some time, please read this detailed article: How to kill your nervousness in public speaking.

But, if you don’t, you should do as the follows:

a. Mentally remind yourself that public speaking can’t kill you.

b. Learn to get accustomed in looking to people’s eyes.

c. Start talking to people while standing whether in formal or informal settings.

2. Voice projection

Personally, I strongly believe that voice is the most important feature in public speaking. A speaker’s ability to properly project their voice well is crucially important in speech delivery.

Great public speakers, in my experience, are people who speak loudly and clearly enough that can be distinctly heard by people listening to them. The voice should not be too loud as it annoys the audience and too low as it makes the audience sleep.

When it comes to voice projection, there are many things to consider such as the using of tone and etc. Usually, a speaker is recommended not to use one tone for the whole speech because it simply makes the speech boring and less emotional. If possible, the speaker should use different tones for different plots. If the plot is about something sad, the tone must be in accordance to the story; it’d better be soft and slow.

How to project voice properly

You can try the following tips:

a. Practice talking to people standing or sitting 2-5 meters away from you. Try to get them understand everything you say. This helps you to talk better with a big group of people.

b. Practice talking to people standing or sitting 0.5-1 meter away from you. Try to get them understand everything you say. This helps you to talk better with a small group of people.

c. Listen to expert story tellers and learn how they use their tone in different parts of the story. Practice narrating story using different tones.

3. Eye contact

Eye contact is usually used by professional public speakers to attract the audience attention. In general, an audience participant focuses on listening to the speaker only when they realize that the speaker speaks to them or that the speaker pays attention to them. How does the participant know that? My experience has taught me that eye contact is the means of such knowledge.

Maintaining a natural and good eye contact with audience is crucially important because it somehow determines the degree of attention the audience members give to us the speakers. Personally, I almost always maintain a close eye contact with the people who listen to me and those who seem not to be focusing on my speech. I don’t have to say their name or point to them to listen to me because my eye contact says it all. Isn’t that cool?

Initially, I was so scared at looking into people’s eyes. I remember I took my glasses off during a classroom presentation because I was not able to undergo the overwhelming pressure of the 20-plus pairs of eyes looking at me. However, thanks to the countless speech delivery practices that I have done for years, I today don’t feel the pressure anymore every time I am on the stage. I just feel at ease.

How to develop powerful eye contact

You can try the following tips:

a. Practice looking into your eyes in the mirror and maintaining the contact for some time (two or three minutes) every day.

b. Practice looking into people’s eyes when you are in conversation in them. I know it’s difficult especially if you come from any country like Cambodia whose societal culture doesn’t promote people looking straight into other people’s eyes. You can start with people that you know well before strangers.

4. Body language

Body language is also one of the most essential elements in speech delivery. Effective use of body language makes the speech lively and active while ineffective use of body language could pose great threat or embarrassment to the audience members. For example, the use of middle finger in North America is offensive. The showing of folding fist could mean either anger or power.

Body language is a bit complicated if one wants to be perfect in it. Yet, it’s worthwhile to learn to use it effectively or perfectly if possible because it’s generally believed that body language conveys much more message than words and tones in any communication scenario. For example, yawning means being sleepy or feeling bored even though the person who yawns tries to say that he is not sleepy or bored.

The use of body language could include such as winking the eyes, using facial expressions, using of hands or legs, posing or standing, and etc. Basically, any movement of the body can be considered as body language.

How to develop powerful body language

You can try the following tips:

a. Strongly believe that use of body language in speech delivery is not crazy or silly. It’s what you are supposed to do and do well if possible.

b. Study the culture in which you are about to deliver your speech. There must be some gestures or body signs considered appropriate or inappropriate. Study them well so as not to offend your audience.

c. Practice using wide and clear body language. Use your hands widely. When you are on the stage, you shouldn’t fold your hands together. Instead use them widely so that your audience can see what you are trying to convey to them.

5. Practice

“Best practices give best results,” said Mr. Somboon Mongkol Sambath, one of the most experienced Toastmasters members with whom I associated during my time in Toastmasters Club. I heard the saying quite early in my pursuit of excellence in public speaking skills, and it has always become my only philosophy in speech delivery and public speaking.

There might be born great public speakers, but the number of these people is so few. Yet, there are so many great trained public speakers. The late Steve Jobs could be one of the examples. Before he passed away, he was considered one of the world’s most powerful public speakers even though he was not born to be a public speaker. During his initial show-ups on the stage or via media, he was quoted as nervous and shaky delivering his speeches.

Like Steve Jobs, I am not a gifted or born public speaker. I spent around 6 years to get trainings on how to effectively deliver speeches. I joined IFL Debate Club and Toastmasters Club. Plus, I have rarely if not never rejected the opportunities to improve my public speaking ability. I even volunteer for the chance to talk in front of people on any topic.

So, if you want to become a powerful and successful public speaker too, you should have this practice mindset. Sharpen your public speaking skills with practices, as many as possible.

How to develop powerful practices

You can try the following tips:

a. Prepare what you are going to talk. Put it in writing in brainstorming or complete form.

b. Rehearse your speech as many as possible before you get on the stage. You can do it in front of pretending audience if you can find. This helps build up your confidence.

c. Practice with a partner that has similar mindset to you.

d. Get constructive feedback from people who listen to your speech after each of your practices.

e. Video-tape your speech. Believe me when I say that you will learn more if you witness your own strengths and/or weaknesses.