Some people seem to be really good at public speaking, whereas others struggle through each and every time that they have to get up in front of people. What can you do in order to get better at public speaking? Does it come naturally or are there tips that you can use in order to get better?

Even though there are definitely people who are naturally good at public speaking, others need some prodding to get into the groove. Here are some of the best tips that you can use in order to excel at public speaking.

1. Always have a story to tell.

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Never, ever get up on the stage without a story. If you don’t have a story to tell during your talk, then it is not very likely that you will catch and/or keep the attention of your audience.

If you have a story or two to tell that are related to your topic, you will keep your audience engaged and entertained; they will also be more likely to remember what you talked about.

2. Don’t pull a topic out of mid-air.

If you get to choose the topic, and in many cases where you have been invited to speak, don’t pick what you think other people want to hear. You want to talk about something you are interested in.

In many cases, it should be something that you know a lot about. There are a few reasons for this. First, because talking about it will feel much more natural to you and sound more natural to the audience. It will also be easier for you to add material if you didn’t put enough into it as well.

3. Settle in ahead of time.

Too many people arrive to speaking engagements right before they are scheduled to speak. Don’t do this. Go in early for a sound check; walk around the room and become familiar with its layout.

Make sure that any technology you are using (microphones, slide shows, video) is working correctly. It has been proven that arriving early to the place when you are about to do something stressful can help reduce the stress because you get adjusted to being there.

4. Don’t apologize.

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Especially if the room is large, people aren’t going to notice if you are fidgeting or that you appear to be nervous. Don’t apologize for being nervous; it’s a standard, normal part of speaking in public.

Most of that audience probably knows exactly how you feel about being up on that stage because they would feel the same exact way. Instead of apologizing, just move forward and act like you aren’t nervous.

5. Just keep practicing.

Too many people avoid public speaking like it’s the plague. Did you know that more people in the world are afraid of public speaking than there are people who are afraid of death? It’s true.

So keep accepting speaking arrangements. Put yourself up in front of people and keep teaching and speaking. The more you do it, the more natural it will feel and the less anxious it will make you in the long run.

6. Don’t focus on how freaked out you are.

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This is a mistake that many people make during public speaking. Instead of focusing on what they are saying or how they are saying it, they worry about how freaked out they feel about being up on that stage.

Keep your mind as far away from your anxiety as you can. Instead, focus on positive interaction with the audience.

They laughed at your joke, they clapped when you made a good statement or they are giving off body language that says that they truly value what they’re saying.

Focus on the good things, not the bad, and your anxiety will lessen immensely.

7. Be energetic!

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Don’t just stand behind the podium and read off of your cards. Express yourself through the way that you speak. Tell people exactly what you want them to hear.

Move around the stage, use your hands, and use positive body language. Let them know that you are passionate about what you are talking about, and they will be more engaged and more likely to be excited about it as well.

So, next time that you have to get up in front of people and speak, keep these tips in mind. They can help you get rid of those public speaking jitters and help you hit a home run with those you are speaking in front of and/or teaching.

If you need some help learning how to get over the anxiety that comes with public speaking, check out a program called Step Up and Speak; it’s one of the best courses out there to help you get over your fear of public speaking.

Last Updated 11 Dec 2013

Useful References

1. Toastmasters International – 10 Tips for Public Speaking (Accessed 11 Dec 2013)

2. Public speaking:  an exercise and illustration (Accessed 11 Dec 2013)