Published:  12:31 AM, 27 August 2018

How to improve your public speaking skills

How to improve your public speaking skills

Dave Schoenbeck

Almost every small business owner has to give a speech at one time or another. Unfortunately, this is often a nerve-wracking experience that many people dread. However, it doesn't have to be that way.

Speaking to a group of people can actually be an exhilarating experience and one that you can feel honored to have. All you need are a few simple steps illustrating how to improve your public speaking skills. This will allow you to give a successful speech that may help further your career and boost your confidence.

How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills - Step #1: Address Negative Emotions

Overcoming fear and nervousness is the first step to improving your speaking skills. This can be done in a variety of ways.

For instance, many people find comfort in knowing that they were asked to speak because someone believed they were an expert on the subject in question. Therefore, their audience is truly interested in what they have to say and wants to see them succeed, making it likely that they will be forgiving. 

This often gives novice speakers the confidence they need to overcome their fear. Other tricks include being as prepared as possible and turning negative thoughts into positive ones. Some people even find themselves taking nervous feelings and turning them into excited energy.

How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills - Step #2: Plan and Prepare

Learning to be well prepared is perhaps the most important part of improving your speaking skills. A prepared speaker has a solid outline to follow. This should be written out in a format that is easy to reference during your speech.

Frequently trouble spots in a speech come from cumbersome transitions between your opening remarks, different topics, slide changes, setting up your close, etc. Work hard on creating a fluid and seamless transitional comments and your audience will know you are an experienced speaker.

Additionally, a prepared speaker has thoroughly researched the topic they will be speaking on. This allows you to feel confident in the speech you are giving and the points you're making. It also makes it possible for you to answer any questions that may arise.

How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills - Step #3: Practice

While planning and preparing are incredibly important to improving your speaking skills, it's equally important that you add plenty of practice into your preparation plans. This practice should include finding trouble spots within your speech and tweaking them until they flow nicely.

It's also critical that you practice using slow and concise speech patterns during your sessions. This should include removing filler words such as "um," "uh," or "like" from your speech. It should also include finding a slow and steady tempo and becoming comfortable with pauses in your speech for gathering your thoughts.

Practicing in front of a mirror or video-recording your practice can also be helpful in pinpointing awkward speech patterns and/or body language so that they can be addressed.

How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills - Step #4: Smile and Make Eye Contact

Believe it or not, something as simple as making yourself smile now and then throughout your presentation can make all the difference. Smiling releases endorphins which, in turn, give a person genuinely happy feelings. This "happy vibe" is almost certain to rub off on your audience, encouraging them to feel happy right along with you and leaving them with positive feelings about your speech.

Eye contact is also crucial as it makes people feel as though you are speaking to them personally. Even just looking a person in the eye for a sentence or two can make a difference in how they feel about your presentation.

By utilizing the tips above, anyone can improve their speaking skills. Because public speaking can be so important to advancing a career, we recommend beginning your practice right away.


The writer is a professional business
and executive coach

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