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15+ Effective Public Speaking Skills & Techniques to Master

You
may think effective speakers are born that way. You’d be wrong! Public speaking
is a skill that can be learned.

Most
effective public speakers have worked hard to master effective speaking skills
and good public speaking techniques. They may spend hours practicing, working
with a coach, or taking speech courses.

Principles of Public Speaking
With practice you too could become an effective public speaker. (Image Source: Envato Elements)

The
good news is that, with the right public speaking techniques, you can improve
your public speaking skills and become an effective speaker. In this tutorial, we’ve listed over 15
different public speaking techniques that can help you learn how to become an
effective speaker.

What
Is Public Speaking?

Public
speaking occurs when you give a speech before a live audience. It differs from
other types of speaking, such as videos, which may be recorded. It’s also
different from online presentations, which are created and then uploaded to the
Internet.

Public
speaking has many
advantages
including
improving your confidence level and giving you the opportunity to champion a
cause you care about. Plus, having effective public speaking skills can help
you find a job. Many jobs, such as an instructor or sales professional, require
you to speak in public. Even when a job doesn’t include public speaking in the
job description, employers still value candidates with effective public
speaking skills. In one survey of 600 employers participants indicated that they felt good
communication skills were twice as important as managerial skills

At
this point you may be asking “what makes a good public speaker?” The answer might seem easy: A
good public speaker makes use of effective public speaking techniques. What are those effective public speaking techniques? That’s what we’re going to talk about in the rest of this tutorial.

Before we dive into our discussion of effective public speaking techniques, download our new eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great PresentationsIt’s available for FREE with the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Learn how to write, design, and deliver the perfect presentation. 

Complete Guide to Presentations

Now, let’s look at how you can deliver an awesome presentation by using effective speaking techniques.

15+
Effective Public Speaking Techniques

You
can learn to become a more effective speaker by using the right techniques and
practicing your public speaking skills. Here are some techniques to follow:

1.
Care About Your Topic

Passion
goes a long way when it comes to being an effective speaker. The audience can
tell if you’re apathetic. If you don’t care, they won’t care either. Even worse, you
can come across as a fake.

On
the other hand, if you sincerely care about your topic the audience will
pick up on that too. They’ll view you as being more authentic and believable.
They’ll listen more closely to discover why your subject is so important to
you. And they’re more likely to forgive any minor mistakes you might make.

2.
Remember Your Speaking Goal

We’ve
all probably listened to at least one speaker who seemed to go on and on
forever about nothing in particular. One reason why this happens is because the
speech isn’t focused enough. The speaker is trying to cover too much and ends
up boring their listeners.

Early
in the process of developing your speech, identify the reason why you’re
speaking. Make it a point to stick to this goal during your presentation. Don’t
get sidetracked or off-topic.

3.
Support Your Main Points

Every
point you make in your speech needs to be supported with either an example, an
illustration, or facts. When you’re supporting a point, it’s best to be as
specific as you can be.

For example, in a speech about the importance of clean water
this statement is too vague:

 “Many people don’t have clean
water.”

Stating
this statistic from the U.S. Center
for Disease Control
is a more effective way to support your point:

“Worldwide, 780 million people do not
have access to an improved water source.”

4.
Tell a Story

People
love a good story. So, if you want to be a more effective speaker, tell a
story.

Storytelling
is a great way to make your material more engaging and to relate to your
audience. Make sure your story is relatable and relevant.

If
you’re speaking is about your business, here are some examples of stories you may
be able to tell:

  • A customer story. The
    story of how your product or services met a need for a specific customer or solved a problem.
    Satisfied customers are often happy to share this.
  • Your company story. The
    story of how your company came to be. This can be especially effective if it’s
    customer-oriented.
  • A product development story. The
    story of how you came to offer a new product (or service).

Of
course, there are many other types of stories you could tell depending on the
type of speaking you are doing.

5.
Use Presentation Tools Wisely

Slide
presentations often get a reputation for being dull, but that’s because many
speakers are unaware of what their presentation tools can do and don’t make the
best use of all the features. To better engage your audience, learn how to use
the more advanced features of your tool.

As
an example, here are just a few ways you can use PowerPoint and Google Slides
(with links to related tutorials):

And
these features are just the tip of the iceberg. To really elevate your public
speaking techniques, you’ll want to learn everything your presentation software
tool can do. Our tutorial series on Google
Slides
 and
PowerPoint are
a good place to start. 

6.
Use a Professional Template

While
we’re talking about presentation tools, let’s also talk about presentation
design. Your presentation design affects how your audience perceives you. Even
if you’ve memorized your speech, give it perfectly, and have the most amazing
topic–your audience might still judge you negatively if your presentation
design is sloppy and unprofessional.

Of
course, you could use a standard template (the same ones that everyone uses) or
design your own template (costly and time-consuming). But a better plan is to
use a professionally designed presentation template that you can easily
customize. The presentation templates from Envato
Elements
 and GraphicRiver, for
example, are proven, easy-to-use, and professional. And there are hundreds to
choose from–so you’re bound to find one that meets your needs.

7. Practice Your Speech

One
of the most important public speaking techniques is often one of the most
overlooked–practice. If you expect that you’ll be an effective speaker without
practicing your speech, you’d be wrong. One of the quickest ways to avoid public
speaking failure is to try and give a speech you don’t really know and haven’t
practiced.

The
old saying, “practice makes perfect,” really is true when it comes to
developing effective speaking skills. The more you practice your speech, the
more familiar it will be to you and the more comfortable you’ll be giving it.
Plus, practicing your speech is the only way to discover how long the speech will
take and where you need to pause.

8.
Work With a Coach (optional)

If
you’re really serious about developing effective speaking skills, there’s no
better way than working with a speech coach or a speech teacher. A coach or
teacher can teach you the principles of public speaking and point out mistakes
in your public speaking techniques that you wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.

While
you may be thinking that a speech coach is too pricey (and there are private
coaches who’ll teach you public speaking), you may be able to find reasonably
priced public speaking help through one of the following organizations:     

There
may even be additional resources close to you.

9. Relax!

It’s
normal to be nervous about public speaking. The numbers vary, but one study
from The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that as many
as 77% of us have a
fear of public speaking
. It’s
so common there’s an actual technical term for fear of public speaking–glossophobia.

I’m
not telling you this to make you more anxious, but rather to let you know that
having some anxiety before giving a speech is perfectly normal. Still, you
should try to relax if you can. You’ll be more comfortable, and the audience
will relate to you better too.

If
there’s something that normally calms you down in stressful situations, try
using it right before you’re due to speak. Popular calming techniques include:

  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Positive
    affirmations
  • Aromatherapy
  • Music

The
following tutorials can also help you fight your fear of public speaking:

10.
Don’t Worry About Mistakes

One
of the reasons so many of us fear public speaking is because we’re worried that
we’ll make a mistake and embarrass ourselves in front of everyone. If this is
your fear, let it go. Most audiences will understand if you make a mistake. And
if it’s a small mistake, the audience may not even notice it.

Of
course, practice can dramatically reduce the likelihood of you making a
mistake. The more you practice the better you’ll know your speech–and
mistakes will be less likely.

So,
what should you do if you do happen to make a mistake? If it’s a minor mistake,
don’t stop or apologize for your mistake as that only calls attention to it.
Just continue on. If you make a big mistake, try using humor to diffuse the
situation and then continue your speech. Your listeners will be impressed with
how gracefully you handled things.

11.
Pace Yourself

When
it comes to public speaking, a common newbie error is to speak too quickly.
This is usually caused by a combination of nerves and not realizing how fast
you’re actually speaking. But talking too fast makes it harder for your
listeners to understand what you’re saying.

Effective
public speakers know to pace themselves. They’ll speak at a natural pace and
work short, natural pauses into their speech.

It
also helps if you remember to breathe during your speech. A surprising number of
people hold their breath without realizing it when they’re nervous (I’m one of them).  But holding your breath will only increase
your anxiety. So, remember to breathe deeply during the breaks in your speech.
If your speech is a long one, taking a sip of water during a break can also
help.

12.
Add Visual Aids

Visual
aids can serve as a powerful illustration of your speech. Humans use their
sight more than any other sense. So, if you can make your point by showing it
to your listeners rather than describing it, they are more likely to remember
it.

Be
careful though. To be effective, your visual aid must be of high-quality and
easily visible to all members of your audience. Avoid incorporating sloppy
graphics into a slide presentation. Likewise, don’t hold up a visual aid that’s
physically too small for those listening to see.

13.
Dress Comfortably, But Professionally

What’s
the right outfit to wear if you want to be an effective public speaker?

Well,
there’s no one answer. How you dress depends on who your listeners will be. But
the general principle is that you want to dress professionally to make a good
impression. Make sure to observe good grooming and hygiene rules too.

Many
experts feel you should dress according to how your audience dresses. If the
audience is dressed formally, you don’t want to show up in shorts and a tee
shirt. Likewise, if the audience is wearing shorts and a tee shirt, don’t dress
formally.

14.
Avoid Awkward Fillers

“Um,” “uh,” “like.” We all
slip these filler words into our conversations without even realizing it. But
overuse of these words during a professional speech can make you sound less than
confident. If you can, break the habit of using these words to become a better
public speaker.

Practice
can help you eliminate these words from your speech patterns, but you may be so
used to using them that it’s hard to notice when you’re doing it. This is where
a speech coach, teacher, or friend would come in handy. They could listen for
these words and help you break the habit of using them.

15.
Use Gestures (But Don’t Overdo)

Natural
movement during a speech is a sign of an effective public speaker. Hand
gestures and even taking a few steps across the stage can be good public
speaking techniques as long as they’re natural, purposeful, and not overdone.

Movement
can make you appear more comfortable and help your audience relate to you.
You’ve probably seen the stiff speaker who delivers their speech while standing
stock still, hands hanging limply by their side. Which would you rather listen
to? That stiff speaker, or a speaker who punctuates their speech from time to
time with meaningful hand gestures?

16.
Allow a Q & A

Question
and answer sessions (Q & A) are one of the most underused public speaking
techniques. Many speakers just say what they’re going to say and then sit down.
What a waste!

The
beauty of Q & A is that you get to hear your listeners’ concerns directly
and address them publicly, further strengthening your case.

You
can prepare for a Q & A session by creating your own list of questions and
possible objections that audience members may have (with answers). Study the
list carefully so that you’re familiar with it. If someone does bring up a
point that you hadn’t thought of, don’t panic. They don’t expect you to know
everything. It’s perfectly acceptable to take their contact information and
tell them that you’ll get back to them once you’ve got the answer.

Additional
Resources on Effective Public Speaking

If
you’re ready to learn more about developing effective speaking skills, we’ve
got a number of tutorials on public speaking that can help:

Download Our Free PDF eBook on Making Great Presentations

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Download The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations for FREE with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Get your ideas formed into a powerful presentation that will move your audience. 

 Free eBook PDF Download Make a Great Presentation

Conclusion

Now
that you know that you can improve your effective public speaking skills,
you’re ready to get to work!

You
can use the list above as a checklist of good public speaking techniques to
work on, or just tackle those specific speaking skills that you’re struggling
with. Either way, with a little effort
on your part you’ll be on your way to becoming a more effective speaker.