how to give a speech

7 Strategies to Become a Better Public Speaker

It was Dale Carnegie who said, “You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” A common fear among many people is the fear of public speaking. The idea of standing in front of an audience to persuade or present often causes worry and anxiety, but it doesn’t have to. If you can remember Dale Carnegie’s words about fear and follow the strategies below, you will overcome your public speaking fear in no time.

1.     Think Out Your Ideas

In order to speak well in front of multiple people, you need to have your entire presentation planned out. Just as you would create an outline for a research paper, you should do the same for your presentation. You’ll need to support your ideas, so think of examples that you can use as evidence. Try to structure your thoughts in a way that makes sense, and create a sense of completeness with a beginning, middle, and end.

2.     Be Prepared

You will need to practice your speech significantly in order to feel confident while speaking. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare or you will not feel ready to present. Instead of trying to memorize every word, only memorize the key points of your outline and the examples you will be using for support. You want to be engaged, not robotic-sounding. Your speech should flow naturally, as if you were having a conversation with another person.

3.     Start Confidently

The opening of your presentation will determine how the rest of the speech goes, so speak with assertiveness and at a volume where everyone can easily hear you. Try opening with a strong statement and bold language in order to convey confidence. Remember that the audience has no prior opinions or thoughts on what you are going to say, and you are the authoritative source in this situation.

4.     Make Eye Contact

Throughout your presentation, it is important to make eye contact with individuals in the room. While you should not focus on one particular person for two long, it is okay to hold someone’s gaze for a few seconds. If you look at the floor or in a random direction, your audience will sense that you are not as engaged as you could be. Making eye contact lets your listeners know that you believe in what you are saying and that you are there to inform them about something new.

5.     Slow Down

A beginner’s mistake when it comes to public speaking is to rush through the presentation. When you walk to the podium or front of the room, take a deep breath, look at your audience, and even count to five before starting to speak. It may feel like an eternity, but it will seem like a normal amount of time to the people in the room. Remember to speak clearly and annunciate your words. You should have a slight pause after commas and between sentences, and an even bigger pause between paragraphs or major points in your argument.

6.     Stay Steady

Most people know that it’s important not to fidget during a presentation, but it’s also crucial that you limit your movement as much as possible. Slight swaying or talking with your hands can be just as distracting as ordinary fidgeting. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, keep your head up, and plant your feet firmly to the ground. It may feel awkward to hold this stance for a long time, but it will help you to stand up straight and look more confident while you speak.

7.     Be Human

Remember: it’s okay to be nervous. In fact, it’s normal. Don’t worry about seeming nervous in front of others, since everybody in the room has had to give a presentation at one point and understands how you feel. If you make a mistake, that’s okay too. Just take a deep breath and pick up where you left off. Keep in mind that everyone in the room is looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

 

This article was brought to you by Dale Carnegie Training, a company founded in 1912 by one of America’s most influential speakers and leaders. Today, the company offers corporate training and helps businesses and individuals achieve their goals. Visit www.DaleCarnegie.com today to learn more about management training programs.

  • http://www.acalltoaction.net/ Trevor Wilson

    Anyone who can get past their fear of public speaking deserves respect. It’s one of the most difficult things we can do. It’s certainly something I will have to work on. Just the thought of speaking in front of a small group puts me in full-on fight or flight mode.

    So for myself, I would probably add one more tip . . .

    8. A shot of whisky right before stepping on stage.

    Cheers!

    • http://www.facebook.com/tslagle21 Scott Slagle

      i would recommend vodka in lieu of whiskey, less of a smell. trust me, i’ve been there.

    • Lindsay T.

      Definitely agree Trevor – it’s not easy, but time and experience can really help!

  • Samantha

    As part of my job, I have to teach a class of about 20+ people once a month. That may not seem like a lot of people to stand in front of, but I am the shyest, quietest person I know. That group of 20 seems like a packed stadium to me. Reading this has put more emphasis on what I’ve already been learning (the hard way), and made it easier to understand. Thank you for this post!

    • Lindsay T.

      Good for you Samantha! Sometimes smaller audiences can actually seem more intimidating. Glad you found this helpful.

  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    Couldn’t agree any more on these seven points Lindsay! May I add that getting practice in front of others and then asking for honest, brutal feedback helps a lot as well? Even better if you can get someone to record you in your entirety to look for any little ticks you may have. 

    • Lindsay T.

      Thanks Vincent! That’s a great pointer that can really help you learn where there’s room improvement.

  • http://lonerwolf.com/ Luna

    haha, I think “be human” is the greatest reminder, thanks for this post!  I put so much pressure on myself to do every little thing perfectly, forgetting the fact that even the best public speakers falter in some ways.  It’s okay to make mistakes!

    • Lindsay T.

      Thanks for your comment Luna! I agree – I think this is something that people forget when they’re presenting, but your audience is always more understanding than you’d expect!

  • Doug Haas

    I think it is important to stick with a topic you know a lot about. If you don’t know what you are talking about, everyone will know it. And that should make you nervous. Stick with what you know.

  • Sinin Kith

    I hate many rules of doing a thing. I like being in a free style of doing it and I found that I can do the best in that way.

  • http://NoMoreHoldingBack.com/ Larry Hochman

    All great stuff! The audience doesn’t usually want to be “blown away.” They want someone they can relate to. Mistakes and humor (as long as they aren’t major ones) make you approachable.

    “Win the crowd and you win your freedom.” Marcus Aurilieus