4 Expert Tips for Improving Public Speaking Skills

4 Expert Tips for Improving Public Speaking Skills

If the thought of giving a speech or presentation in front of a crowd or group makes you break out in a cold sweat, you aren’t alone. 75% of adults express a fear of public speaking. 

Public speaking is a skill, and just like any skill, you can’t become an expert overnight. It takes planning and practice to make your presentations and speeches more engaging and impactful. 

If you’re ready to enhance your public speaking skills, we’ve compiled four tips to help you get started: 

  1. Be authentic.

  2. Use an effective presentation design.

  3. Engage your audience.

  4. Practice, practice, practice.

You can use these tips to improve your own public speaking skills or help facilitate training for other presenters, such as conference speakers or association members. These best practices should give you or your trainees a strong foundation to approach any presentation or speech with greater confidence. 

1. Be authentic.

Your presentation or speech should sound like something that was entirely crafted and carried out by you. A cookie-cutter format might come off as inauthentic and boring to audience members. 

Incorporating your unique perspective and personal stories increases your credibility and trustworthiness. Audience members will put more stock in what you have to say when it’s clear you have first-hand experience. 

Be Brilliant Presentation Group’s guide to effective presentation skills offers several tips for making your speeches more authentic: 

  • Use stories and anecdotes from your life. Stories are more memorable than just listing facts or statistics—in fact, research has shown facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story. Starting your speech with a story or anecdote captures audience members’ attention right away. Weave additional short stories or examples throughout your presentation to maintain a high level of engagement. 

  • Emphasize your natural strengths. For instance, if you’re good at making people laugh, crack a few jokes. But if that doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t force it. It’s always better to remain true to your personality. Take your strengths into consideration during the planning process.

  • Don’t attempt perfection. As a leader, you might feel pressured to come off as completely professional and poised at all times. But it’s nearly impossible to pull off a presentation without at least one mistake. However, don’t let the mistakes trip you up. Stay relaxed and focus on communicating the main takeaways of the presentation you identified during the planning process.

Staying authentic makes your presentation much more relatable and personable for audience members. Even if you’re speaking to a crowd of strangers, you can develop a personal connection with them by telling stories and letting your personality shine through. 

2. Use an effective presentation design.

If you have the opportunity to use visual aids to facilitate your presentation, design these materials strategically. The images, charts, graphics, and other visual content you use to guide audience members through the presentation should be chosen deliberately to guide audience members through your key points. 

To craft your presentation effectively, follow these best practices for visual design: 

  • Keep your presentation organized and visually consistent. Use consistent background colors, fonts, and graphic styles to create cohesion. This gives your presentation a professional feel, further enhancing your credibility. Before your presentation, triple-check that your slides are all working properly. Test transitions and animations, play video clips, and ensure all elements are in the correct order. 

  • Use thought-provoking and illuminating images that tell a story. Images will help get your point across much faster than text-heavy slides. People interpret images in as little as 13 milliseconds, so they can help further audience members’ understanding of your main argument or premise. Incorporate infographics to facilitate understanding or images with people in them to foster an emotional connection. 

  • Include elements that engage audience members of all learning styles. Visual learners will appreciate a variety of images and infographics that illustrate complex concepts. Auditory learners will respond best to audio or video clips or moments in your speech where you rephrase or repeat complex ideas to further explain them. Finally,  kinesthetic learners will appreciate participating in your presentation, such as when you take an audience poll or divide audience members into small groups for activities. 

Your presentation materials provide excellent visual support backing up your central argument or premise, helping you drive your point home. Keep in mind that the actual design of your presentation should come after you’ve already planned the purpose and main points of your presentation. This way, you ensure your visuals truly support your presentation and aren’t superfluous. 

3. Engage your audience.

Knowing who you’re talking to is the first step in determining how you’ll get your main ideas across. Your presentation should be tailored to the interests, needs, and motivations of your audience members. This ensures they’ll be engaged in your presentation and gain valuable takeaways to use in daily life.

Learn more about your audience members and engage them more effectively by taking the following steps: 

  • Research your audience ahead of time. Will you be speaking to an audience of colleagues, potential customers, employees, fellow association members, or students? Will your audience be mostly strangers or people you know? Answer these questions ahead of time to determine your target audience and the level of familiarity you should use in your speech. 

  • Identify the most important audience takeaways. Implementing a do-remember-feel ending gives your audience valuable takeaways, no matter the situation. Whether you’re conducting workplace training or presenting at a conference, identifying one thing you want your audience to do, remember, or feel after your presentation is the best way to drive value post-presentation. 

  • Incorporate audience participation. Engaging audience members as active participants in your presentation allows you to demonstrate concepts on a more practical level and appeal to tactile learners. Ask for a volunteer to help demonstrate a concept or a show of hands to highlight the presence or lack of a trend. You can also include virtual polls to add an element of gamification to your presentation. 

  • If applicable, leave time for questions. To ensure there are no remaining points of confusion, allow audience members to ask questions, if possible. MemberClicks’ guide to meeting takeaways recommends using an online submission form or a physical box with a pen and paper for audience members to submit questions. This helps keep questions organized and provides a record for all questions asked during the presentation. 

Taking these steps ensures your speech is tailored to the right audience and attendees will gain valuable insights from your presentation. This can help boost your confidence and audience members’ satisfaction. 

4. Practice, practice, practice.

Practicing before delivering your speech will help reduce anxiety and allow you to polish your presentation. Make final preparations for your presentation by making a practice schedule and checklist to ensure you’re covering all of your bases. 

After you’ve got the verbal element of your speech down, practice the physical aspects of your speech or presentation. Practice using gestures or any props for emphasis. If possible, rehearse your presentation in the place where you’ll actually deliver your speech to get a feel for how to interact with the space. 

If you feel you could benefit from more tailored or one-on-one coaching, consider working with a public speaking coach. These professionals can offer personalized pointers and help you work on specific presentations to make both your speech and visuals as engaging and effective as possible. 

The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel when it comes time to give your presentation or speech, and the better your presentation will be as a result. 

 Whether you’re working to improve your own presentation skills or help develop the future leaders of your association or group, these tips will put you on the right path toward better presentations and speeches. By incorporating these tips for every meeting, presentation, or speech you deliver, you’ll be well on your way to improving your public speaking skills and creating a more positive experience for audiences.


About The Author

Patti Schutte

About the Author: Patti Schutte is the CEO, Founder, and Principal Coach of Be Brilliant Presentation Group. Be Brilliant Presentation Group’s coaching system results in speakers moving from fear and avoidance to confidence and purpose. 

If fear of presenting runs through the veins of the majority, then Patti is the minority. She’ll be the one to grab the mic and quickly have the room engaged, laughing, and learning. Not skills you’d expect from someone who has a degree in mathematics. Her unique combination of being analytically minded, extroverted, charismatic, and skilled in presenting and training has guided her career journey. Her diverse presentation experiences include classroom and corporate training, growing and motivating an independent sales force, developing a team of national presenters, speaking at conferences, and transforming the presentation skill of professionals. She believes everyone deserves the advantage of brilliant presentation and speaking skills. 

If you are tired of giving subpar presentations, frustrated by the opportunity loss you’ve experienced, want to streamline your presentation process, and are motivated to learn and improve, Be Brilliant Presentation Group is ready to work with you! Patti’s four step process efficiently gets you from the brainstorming phase to completed, well practiced slides that you’re proud of and a feeling of preparedness for your presentation. Patti has had many people say they accomplish more in 30 minutes with her than they did in two full days without her.



Share this post:

Comments on "4 Expert Tips for Improving Public Speaking Skills"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment