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11 Things You Need to Know about Effective Public Speaking

There are some things that you need to know about public speaking. Not just basics, essential that will make your public speaking skills improve. Now we're not just talking about overcoming your fear of public speaking - if you have a fear of public speaking, you could get some help here:

1) Talk to An Audience of One

We often say talk to the audience, but in truth, that's daunting and not very helpful in communication. It feels like we are talking to a big vague unfocused mass. Pick a person and speak to them. I call them your 'Friendly Face'. It can be someone you know.

But there is one more thing you need to know - target that person verbally too. What I mean is - rather than saying "Who here has been to Moscow?", ask that person "Have you ever been to Moscow?" - don't worry, it will have the same impact on the whole audience, but it will feel more personal to you and the audience too.

2) Write How You Speak

Written language is more formal than speech. There are rules. We have to use punctuation, syntax and grammar. But when you write how you speak, we can be much more relaxed, and you can speak with a flow that you are comfortable with.

3) Start with a Question

Start with a thought provoking question. Make your audience start thinking straight away. If you can get into their head, you can start to influence them. Do it straight away.

4) Repeat it to Make it Stick

24 hours after your presentation, your audience will remember around 50% of what you said. 48 hours after your presentation, they'll only remember half of that. If you want them to remember something, repeat it often throughout your speech. Don't worry about seeming repetitive, that's only bad if it isn't something important.

5) Think about What They Need to See and Hear

In order to persuade someone to do something, it helps them to be able to SEE and HEAR what they need to SEE and HEAR to help them cross the bridge between YES and NO.

The success of a persuasive presentation is in understanding the gap between the audience and the decision or action you would like them to make. Then you need to imagine the objections they might have, and consider what they would have to SEE or HEAR in order to drop those objections and come with you.

6) Structure Really Matters

A presentation should answer the following questions

  • Why are you speaking?

  • Why should the audience care why you’re speaking?

  • What is your real message to them?

  • What do you want them to think, feel and do?

If you organise your presentation around answering these questions, you will always make it to the point, relevant and impactful.

7) Go Out with a Bang

Most people say thank you meekly and walk off as if they have defecated during the presentation and now they need to shamefully leave the stage. Don’t let that be you.

At the end of your presentation, repeat your message one last time, perhaps in a new way, summarise, conclude, but leave with something strong. Smile, then say thank you. Now you can leave.

8) Give Them a Wow

We all remember being blown away by something. We want to tell someone, we want to share it, it is something that wows us.

Give your presentation a WOW moment. There is normally a wow possible in every presentation - even when one of my clients was giving terrible news about the previous quarter’s sales performance, the WOW moment was the current sales figures were shockingly good. When she juxtaposed those two slides together, the audience were really WOWed.

A wow moment creates emotion in your audience. It makes them feel something - and in this case, something positive. They are likely to want to hear more, and in this case, to improve sales performance because the future looks brighter.

The WOW will stand out from the rest of your presentation and be instantly memorable. It doesn’t have to be a fact, it can be something that produces positive emotion. Want some help looking for your WOW moment - get in touch.

This video is a great example. If you haven't seen it, count the number of passes that the white team achieves during the game. Watch until the end for a big WOW moment.

9) You Me Same Same

Treat the audience like you are on the same level. If you speak down to them from your position of ‘power’, they are likely to find you disrespectful. You may be the boss, the coach, the leader, the CEO, the chairperson - but you are not BETTER than them.

Speak to them as if you are equals. They will feel the mutual respect and in exchange respect you back. They will also be surprised because this is something that leadership or management often get entirely wrong.

10) Tone and Feel

Each section of your speech should have a different tone to it. Is the opening light and breezy, but the meat of your presentation has heavy gravitas, but do you end on light and hopeful.

Consider how this change of tone keeps things engaging and prevents your audience from dying from gravitas-overkill, because most people presentations and public speaking events are all about serious and heavy. Clearly they aren’t. Unless you want your audience to die of boredom.

11) What’s the Story?

What’s the story of your speech? All public speaking should be structured like a great story, and tell an effective story.

It’s not an accident that some of the world’s most successful people are voracious readers of story. Stories are one of the things that make us human beings unique.

What is the story of your presentation? Last quarter was terrible, but this one is getting better with each week? And we can make it the best quarter ever! Find the story within it, it will be key to your message and it will help you to structure your speech effectively.

Looking to make your next presentation or public speaking event the most impactful and influential yet? Contact me today to discuss how I can help.


Public Speaking and Presentation Coach


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