6 Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

We’ve all been there, standing in front of a crowd of people willing our brains to make the speech we had painstakingly prepared for this moment and ultimately, failing to deliver it as well as we’d hoped. For most people, public speaking does not come naturally which is why we’ve compiled these tips for you that will hopefully see you through the next time you have to take the mic.

1. Prepare well

Of course, the better we prepare our speech, the easier it will be to deliver. Make enough notes and take the time to go over them as much as you need to. Once you’re comfortable with the material make sure you practice as much as you can. A great way to see where you may need to improve is to videotape yourself and watch it back over.

2. Organise your material

Once your speech is written and you’ve learnt what you’re going to say, it’s important to organise it as well as you can so that you have the necessary access to it on the day. Many people choose to do this by creating prompt cards that they can hold in their hand while they deliver the speech. This can also come in handy for interviews but check out CV-Library for more advice.

3. Showcase your personality

Delivering a speech isn’t just about sharing information with your audience; it’s about letting your personality shine through too. Allowing yourself to do this will make sure that your speech flows more effectively and your audience will be more inclined to listen intently if they see you as a real person rather than a talking head.

4. Rely on an anecdote

Including an anecdote in your speech is not only another way to showcase your personality but it will provide a personal touch that will keep the audience engaged. Many of the best public speakers often rely on humorous anecdotes to begin or conclude their speeches.

5. Ditch nervous gestures

If you act confident, you’ll feel confident. Work on getting rid of any nervous gestures such as hand wringing, pen clicking, shoe shuffling and touching your face – all of these can give the game away that you feel nervous up there. Instead, use your voice and hands effectively to convey your ideas clearly and without any unnecessary distraction.

6. Adapt to any feedback

Forget the age-old idea that you should stare at a certain point on a blank wall as you’re speaking and instead, watch the audience carefully for cues. As you get into the flow of your speech, you should be able to gauge the reaction of your audience and adapt your speaking style accordingly. For example, if they look bored, this might be the time to bring out your amusing anecdote. The trick here is to be flexible.  

Even the most seasoned of public speakers will still have nerves before they deliver so although it may be impossible to shake your jitters entirely; hopefully, our list has given you some insight into how to minimise them.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.