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Public Speaking: 7 Tips for Excellence

Category: Language Training | 2017-09-11

The summer break is over and school is back in session. One of the most common requests we have at the Institute is to work on public speaking skills. In our Business English courses, we tend to spend quite a bit of time working on this topic because of its importance and its effectiveness as a teaching tool.

Public speaking is something that scares most of us, at least a little bit. But, it doesn’t have to. With these 7 tips, you can be sure to improve the quality of your presentations, as well as your confidence.

Public Speaking: 7 Tips for Excellence

Boost Your Presentation Skills 


Business English Training

Eat and Exercise

What you eat and how much you exercise are without a doubt two of the most important things in our lives. But beyond that, they can play a large role in how effectively we give our presentations.

Eating a healthy meal before speaking publicly gives us the energy to stand on stage and speak at length. A proper diet also stimulates brain activity and helps to keep us focused, sharp and positive.

In addition to eating healthy, getting some exercise before a presentation can have some excellent benefits. When we are stressed, as we often are before public speaking, our bodies produce Cortisol. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, can interfere with your memory and hinder your ability to process complex ideas or information.

Exercising an hour or two before your presentation, can help to reduce your Cortisol level. This will help to lower your stress and leave you more focused on the job at hand. Not only that, the overall buzz you get after a workout, will improve your mood and increase your charisma on stage.

Public Speaking

Set Clear Goals

This is one of the most overlooked aspects in public speaking. What is your goal? What do you want from your audience? If you don’t clearly identify the purpose of your presentation, your audience won’t be able to do it either.

Start by deciding what you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Build your talking points to support this idea and provide a clear map of how to get there. You will end up with a more focused and cohesive speech, provide more value to the audience and a better result for you.

Provide Value

Often times, we speak publicly as a means to building our reputations, and from that, our business. If your goal is to gain more clients, simply pitching them throughout your presentation will lose any credibility you had. Instead, provide them with valuable knowledge and tips which offer insight into your area of expertise.

After establishing yourself as an expert in your field, the audience will know to seek you out for further information. Now is the time to pitch your business and turn leads into clients.

Speak Slowly and Take Breaks

The number one mistake I see when consulting with people on public speaking is talking too fast. As most of us are nervous when we are faced with a crowd, this is understandable. We want to get out of there as soon as possible!

However, speaking slowly has the advantage that the audience can follow us better and really absorb our message. Not only that, it gives you the appearance of a person who is composed, at ease and in control. Pacing your presentation slowly will feel unnatural. That is fine!
Along with speaking slowly, you should be sure to take some breaks. Now, I don’t mean leave the stage and grab a coffee. But, you should stop regularly to compose yourself and take a breath. Take three or four seconds here. In addition to improving your frame of mind, a pause will get the attention of those who drifted off to their smartphones.

Have a Conversation

We have all sat through a presentation where the speaker droned on and on about facts and figures. Whether they were reading or not, that is what it felt like. Great public speaking should feel like a conversation with the audience.

How do you do that? Your voice needs natural inflection and you need to use body language that is open and welcoming. Get away from the podium. Walk around and back and forth on the stage. One thing that has helped many of our students is the idea of picking targets. Choose a few people sitting throughout the audience. Pick someone close, someone at the back and people on both sides. As you move around, speak directly to these people. This will help remove that glassy stare out over their heads and bridge the gap between you and your audience.

Repeat Questions

Questions from the audience can be one of the more terrifying aspects of public speaking. You can never be sure what will be asked and you probably haven’t rehearsed your answers. That’s ok.

When a question is asked, repeat it in your own words. This offers two benefits. The first is that you can be sure you have understood the question correctly and don’t make a fool of yourself by answering the wrong question. Secondly, it will give you some time to prepare your answer. Remember, take a moment before shooting straight into the abyss with a poorly thought-out response. A two or three second pause could make the difference between simply an answer and a great answer.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Yes, I get it. You have heard this before and you always practice. But do you really spend the time necessary to make your presentation excellent?

You have to do more than read through your notes and eyeball your slides. Take the time to practice delivering your speech out lout. Present it in front of a group of colleagues or friends. Make sure they give honest and critical feedback. Without that you won’t be able to improve your speech. I also highly recommend filming yourself on one of your practice rounds. There is no tougher critic than yourself. You never know, you might even impress yourself with just how excellent your public speaking skills have become!

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Putting it All Together

I won’t tell you that public speaking is easy. And I won’t tell you that is fun. For many of us, this just isn’t the case. But, most of us will have to do it at one point or another in our careers and we might as well be excellent. So remember, prepare with your goal in mind and deliver something of value. Keep it slow, take breaks and always be friendly and conversational. Do some exercise before you go on and practice more than you think you need to. You’ll be an excellent public speaker!

What are your tips for public speaking? Do you have a routine before your presentation? How do you keep it loose on stage? Let me know in the comment section below. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter for more tips, articles and exclusive deals. Thanks for reading!



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