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Tips For Effective Public Speaking

Jun 11, 2009, 7:34 AM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuya

Anyone can give a speech but not everyone can give an effective speech.

At some point in everyone's life, we must speak in front of a group of people. It could be through your job, in school, civic or government groups or just a group of friends or family members. If one is to effectively communicate to these groups, one must learn to do so properly. I am very glad to share this information I was once lucky to have, with you. I came across this information when I was a member of the Voice of The Young. During my membership period in this organization, I learnt a lot and I am more than glad to share these public speaking tips with you.

It has been noted that most young people shy away from speaking in public sometimes due to lack of confidence or mere timidity.

Bring it on! As one of the many platforms where youths regain back their assertiveness would help make sure youth can confidently speak in public.

 Effective public speaking skills can be learned by following a few simple tips.





A speaker's ideas are accepted as believable only to the degree that the speaker is perceived to be credible. The speaker's credibility depends on their confidence in themselves, competence, and good will. The speaker who is well organized will usually be considered competent. The speaker who is dynamic and passionate about the subject will be seen as more credible than one who is not. The most fundamental factor a speaker projects is the attitude they have toward themselves. A speaker's poise and confidence communicate as effectively as the words that are spoken. Remember the three H's of credibility: Humour, Heart & Humility.



The delivery, the way the message is presented, should complement the speech's objective. A well written speech delivered poorly can quickly lose effectiveness. The best speakers follow an outline and speak from the top of their heads rather than reading every word to the audience. The speaker should not memorize, but can use an outline on paper or cards to present the speech.



+ Be comfortable and poised.

+ Stand up straight.

+ Don't Swing, Shift or Jump

+ Don't lean forward or backwards, or put your weight on one leg.

+ Put your hands at ease. Gestures can be effective but don't overdo it.

Eye Contact

+ Look in the eyes of people. Move your eyes in slow smooth cycles to cover the entire audience, especially corners. This creates rapport or relationship with your audience.



+ Vary your voice by changing loudness and tone of the words and theme of your speech. This brings life to your speech and keeps the audience interested in what you are saying.

+ Use your voice to add emphasis. Convey energy when you need to, and draw the audience in close' when it's appropriate.


+ Use words which are natural to you.

+ Use phrases which are understood by all.

+ Avoid bookish language, or words that are too technical.

+ Do not mix languages so much or so many times that it irritates.

+ Some foreign languages words are not easy to translate so don't try to.



The content is what we say about a topic. It may seem an obvious thing to do, but before you start writing your presentation you must determine what precisely your topic will be or what aspect of a topic you plan to address. Once this is clear you can commence writing. Occasionally you will find that your topic, as determined, is actually too large or complex for the time available and you may go back and review the specific topic you wish to address. Following are some pointers for determining the content of your speech.


+ Look for a creative angle on your topic. Capture your audience's attention this way.

+ Research and collect data, exact figures, latest developments, interesting little known facts, expert opinions, and any other relevant information which would humour, fascinate or surprise the audience.

+ Encourage audience participation. Most audiences enjoy becoming involved in presentations particularly if they have been sitting for a long while. Involvement often promotes a greater degree of learning and understanding.

+ Use personal examples and stories in your speech whenever possible. Story telling is fun whether you are the teller or the listening. It is entertaining for the audience, it is an effective way to teach a principle and it's a- great way for the teller to practice vocal variety and dramatic techniques.

+ Add drama, role play or music. There's entertainment value when incorporating drama, role play or music in a presentation and people are more apt to remember you and your message. Make sure your use of drama or role play is appropriate to your topic.


When preparing the content of your speech, remember to consider these important points:

Audience- Who are the members? How many will be at the event?

Understanding- What is their knowledge about the topic you will be addressing?

Demographics- What is their age, sex, educational background, etc?

Interest- why will they be at this event? Who asked them to be there?

Environment- where will I stand when I speak? Will everyone be able to see me?

Needs- What are the listener's needs? What are your needs as a speaker? What are the needs of the person who invited you?

Customized- How can I custom fit my message to this audience?

Expectations- What do the listeners expect to learn from me?



When speeches and presentations are poorly organized, the impact of the message is reduced and the audience is less likely to accept the speaker or the speaker's ideas. Therefore, the structure of a talk or speech is very important. Below is a brief outline of a successful speech.


I. Introduction

(a) An opening grabber such as a quote, story shocking statistics. Capture your audience's attention by giving them a reason for listening.

(b) The purpose or main message of your presentation. This is where you tell your audience what you are going to talk about.


II. Main Body

(a) Your main points or ideas. Break your idea into separate points (three is suggested) that explain or support your main message. This where your audience is told about the topic.

III. Conclusion

(a) A summary of your main points. Revisit and summarize your main message by referring back to the points made in your main body. This provides your audience with a complete package and reminds them what you have told them

(b) A closing grabber. Give the audience something to remember as they leave.

(c) Time for questions and answers, if appropriate.


More tips for effective public speaking

. Know the room. Be familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice your speech or talk.

+ Know the audience. Greet some of the audience as they arrive. It's easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.

.. Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and healthy. It shows you care about doing well. It is perfectly normal to feel nervous. Just don't show


+ Be prepared. If you are familiar with your talk or speech or are comfortable with it, your nervousness will decrease. Especially practice the opening of your speech and plan exactly how you will say it. Ask someone to listen to your talk or speech and provide feedback on your performance.

+ Stay relaxed. Take deep breath, make a short and secret meditation, mentally play your favorite song, feel friends cheering you up, or see the scene of past success.

+ Concentrate on the message, not the audience. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties, and outwardly towards your message and your audience. It is your responsibility to provide the information your audience needs to hear. It is the message that really counts.

+ Focus on all the people who are listening to you (not on those who are not). Do not get distracted by disturbances. If it is minor ignore the disturbance and go ahead. If it is major, wait till things settle down, tell a fitting joke or make a comment and go ahead. In any case, never lose your charm and calm.

+ Watch for non-verbal clues from your audience and be prepared to respond to the reactions of your audience throughout your presentation.

+ Ignore if you have erred and no one noticed. Admit and correct if it is pointed out.

. Experience and practice build confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. Anywhere, any time, jump at the chance to stand up and speak in front of people. There is no better alternative than to practice.

+ Questions from audience are a welcome sign. It shows they have listened to you. Answer if you can, otherwise ask all present to answer. Admit if you do not know the answer and accept if anyone gives additional information. Answers should be short and sweet.

+ Pay attention to all details. Make sure you know the right location and time.

..and the final tip: Public speaking CAN be fun!

It is possible for public speaking to be fun and hugely satisfying. Once you have enjoyed giving a talk or presentation, your self confidence will get a huge boost and you will be off and running!