50 Proven Public Speaking Techniques to Fear Less and Wow Your Audience

Public speaking can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced speaker looking to refine your skills, mastering the art of public speaking is within your reach. In this article, we’ll share 50 proven techniques that will help you overcome your fears and captivate your audience, transforming you into a confident and compelling speaker.

From controlling your body language to crafting a powerful message, these strategies are designed to boost your confidence and enhance your presentation skills. By applying these techniques, you’ll not only reduce anxiety but also leave a lasting impression on your audience. Get ready to take your public speaking abilities to the next level and wow your listeners with ease and poise.

You may also download this Public Speaking Assessment.

Public Speaking Still Matters

Public speaking remains a vital skill, even in our digital world. When we speak in front of others, our words have more impact, and we create a connection that screens can’t match.

Here are examples of public speaking today.

Consider leaders and entrepreneurs. They use speeches to share their vision and move people to action. A strong presentation can turn doubters into supporters, sparking new ideas and partnerships.

In schools, even with online classes, the lessons that stick are often from teachers who speak with passion. Their energy makes students curious and eager to learn more.

Think about personal moments too, like wedding speeches or community meetings. These are times when speaking out makes a big difference, touching hearts and bringing people together.

Public speaking is also key in making changes in society. When people raise their voices for a cause, they can sway public opinion and drive action. This is something that tweets and posts can’t achieve on their own.

So, even though we often communicate through texts and emails, the power of standing up and speaking to an audience is as important as ever. It brings us together and moves us to action in ways that digital communication cannot.

See more examples of public speaking today.

What are public speaking techniques?

Public speaking techniques are strategies or practices that can help individuals communicate more effectively when addressing an audience.

These techniques cover a wide range of skills, from the initial development of a speech, including researching and organizing content, to the delivery of the speech, such as utilizing appropriate body language, tone of voice, and maintaining eye contact.

Applying these techniques can help speakers of all levels deliver more impactful and effective presentations.

Whether you’re a seasoned speaker or a beginner, refining these skills can improve your public speaking abilities and help you connect more effectively with your audience.

Public Speaking Courses

You do not need to become a fearless speaker. You only need to fear less about speaking so you can speak more often. I have designed public speaking courses for organizations. These courses can be customized to the specific needs of your organization.

Schedule a discovery session if you want leaders to master public speaking and presenting.

Let’s now explore some of these public speaking techniques.

public speaking techniques

For those seeking a deeper understanding and a comprehensive framework for crafting and delivering epic speeches, don’t miss our guide – “Public Speaking: Craft and Deliver Epic Speeches.” But now, let’s turbo-charge your speaking skills and make your voice heard!

Speaking Techniques to Develop Content

When I speak of content, I refer to your message and the elements you use to illustrate your message.

You want your speeches to become clear and compelling. You can do this when you understand how speeches are like stories. You begin with a person with a problem to solve, they have solutions that are not working for them, and you know a better solution or a way to find the better solution.

You will find storyboarding very effective in helping you create stories that people will remember.

1. Use storyboarding.

It’s helpful to visualize your speech like a narrative. This helps to ensure there’s a logical flow from your introduction to your conclusion.

Though I do not draw, stick figures work for me.

Of course, you may use storyboarding digital tools too. But I am an analog person, so paper and pencil work for me.

How do you do storyboarding?

If you’re delivering a speech on climate change, you might start by discussing the current state of the environment (beginning), then move on to the potential consequences if no action is taken (middle), and finally present your recommendations for what can be done to address the issue (end).

I often think of a speech like a three-act story. So, storyboarding helps a lot.1

Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth, though not really a story, sounds like a narrative worth listening to.

2. Apply the power of the hook.

The initial moments of your speech can set the tone for the rest of your presentation. Starting with a surprising fact, a thought-provoking question, or an engaging anecdote can hook your audience’s attention.

For instance, if you’re speaking about cybersecurity, you might begin by revealing a shocking statistic about the number of cyberattacks per day.

Consider also that your hook points to the end of the story. The job therefore is not only to surprise your audience but hint them at what you are going to tell next.

Anecdote and personal stories

3. Use anecdotes and personal stories.

When I was in the seminar, I noticed that many priests used anecdotes during homilies. They tell stories as if they’ve experienced the stories themselves. There were many times when I told myself, “Oh, I’ve heard that story before from another priest.”

Anecdotes are short, often amusing, or interesting stories about real incidents or people. They are typically used to illustrate a point, entertain, or provide insight into a particular topic or individual.

Anecdotes can be both factual and fictional, but they are often based on personal experiences or observations. They are commonly used in casual conversations, speeches, and writings to engage the audience or reader, making a point more memorable or bringing a human element to a broader topic.

I use anecdotes about people my audience knows much. I got this technique from the Acres of Diamond. Although the speech was delivered more than 5,000 times, I realized that for most people who heard it, the speech sounded new because of anecdotes.

Enriching your speech with personal stories or anecdotes can create an emotional connection with your audience. This could be sharing a personal experience that led to a crucial learning moment.

For example, if you’re talking about teamwork, you might share an anecdote from a group project where the team overcame a significant challenge.

I have been facilitating team building since 2007. Along the way, I have collected many stories from clients. I use some of their stories to challenge teams.

You may collect pocket stories which you can use again and again.

public speaking delivery

4. Have a call to action.

Amateur speakers often end their speeches with, “Thank you, that’s all”.

There is a better way. Use a call to action. Your call to action makes your speech complete.

And if we are to remind ourselves of the law of terminals, we know that people remember your last words. You don’t want them to remember “that’s all”. You want them to feel or do something.

Concluding your speech with a clear call to action gives your audience a sense of direction. It could be a practical step you want them to take or a change in mindset.

If your speech is about recycling, your call to action might be for listeners to start recycling at home or at work.

Many speakers write their introductions first. I begin writing my speech with a call to action. So, I brainstorm my call to action after writing my title.2

Data and statistics.

5. Employ data and statistics.

In a way, a speech is a tool. What you will do before challenging people to change their behaviors is to change the way they see things. The call to action is the idea you want to share, the very reason for speaking.

When I was young, I noticed that many commercials use statistics. A toothpaste commercial says that 9 of 10 dentists recommend the toothpaste. I was thinking that perhaps 1 doctor out of 10 recommends the best. But people will buy what the 9 doctors recommend.

That’s the power of statistics.

Numbers make your speech more credible.

We follow the Ten Commandments. We like to read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Numbers make something official.

Including relevant and accurate data can lend credibility to your speech and strengthen your arguments. If you’re talking about the health benefits of regular exercise, you could include statistics about the percentage of people who saw improved health outcomes due to regular physical activity.

You can also make your numbers evoke emotion.

I was once in a classroom with 40 students. I introduced my speech by saying, “If the statistics are correct, then 27 of you will…” My purpose is to make the number resonate with them.

During your speech, you can make people raise their hands if they exercise. It is amazing that most statistics look more valid when confirmed by the participants.

Data and statistics are credibility builders. Try it the next time you craft a speech.

Speaking Techniques to Improve Delivery

I often hear speaking teachers say, “It is not what you say, but how you say it that matters”. That’s not true. The message is more important than the delivery. The message is your solution.

But it is important for us to improve the delivery of our messages. May these public speaking techniques help you.

Al Gore’s delivery of the speech below helped a lot. He delivers a very important topic that many of us are not excited to hear.

6. Manage your pacing.

Public speaking is an art that requires mastery of various elements, one of which is pacing. Managing your pace while delivering a speech or presentation is crucial for several reasons:

Speaking too quickly can cause listeners to miss important details while speaking too slowly can cause them to lose interest. By maintaining an even pace, you ensure that your audience can follow your message, grasp complex ideas, and retain the information you’re sharing.

Varying your pace depending on the content can help keep your audience engaged. For instance, slowing down during crucial points can emphasize their importance, while quickening your pace can convey excitement or urgency.

Being in control of your pace reflects confidence and mastery over your material. A steady pace shows that you’re calm, composed, and knowledgeable about your subject, making you more credible to your audience.

Pace can influence the emotional tone of your speech. A slow, deliberate pace might convey seriousness or reflection, while a brisk pace might convey enthusiasm or joy. By managing your pace, you can better connect with your audience on an emotional level.

You can slow down when discussing complex concepts to ensure understanding or speed up slightly during exciting or engaging parts to build momentum.

Controlling the speed of your delivery can help to keep your audience’s attention.

7. Manage the volume of your voice.

Voice volume plays a pivotal role in the realm of communication, especially in public speaking. Managing the volume of your voice is essential for various reasons:

The primary goal of speaking is to convey a message. If you’re too quiet, you risk not being heard, and if you’re too loud, you might come across as aggressive or overbearing. Striking the right volume ensures that every member of the audience can hear and understand you clearly.

Variations in volume can be used as a tool to keep the audience engaged. A sudden drop in volume might draw listeners in, making them hang on to your every word, while a sudden increase can emphasize a point or evoke a particular emotion.

A strong, steady volume exudes confidence and authority. It indicates that you believe in what you’re saying and that you view your message as important. Conversely, a wavering or inconsistent volume can suggest uncertainty or nervousness.

Volume can be used to underscore the emotional tone of what you’re saying. Whispering can create a sense of intimacy or secrecy while raising your voice can convey passion, urgency, or anger.

Using an appropriate volume, especially when aided by microphones or sound systems, reduces the need to strain your voice. This not only helps in delivering a clear message but also protects your vocal cords from potential damage.

Adjusting your volume can emphasize key points and show passion. If you’re sharing a vital point, increasing your volume slightly can show its importance.

8. Use effective pausing.

Pauses can be used to highlight important points, allow key messages to sink in, and give you a chance to breathe.

For example, after sharing a significant statistic, a brief pause allows your audience to absorb the information.

Pausing in public speaking is a subtle yet powerful technique I’ve leveraged effectively over the years. Let me share how this approach enhanced one of my talks delivered to a group of bankers a decade ago.

In the midst of my presentation, I strategically placed pauses. This not only piqued the curiosity of my audience but also prepared them for the crucial points I was about to make. The room, filled with seasoned professionals, fell silent, hanging on to the anticipation of what was next.

This kind of attention is gold in any speaking scenario.

My topic involved leading people when you are not around, so I used pauses to let the information resonate. After explaining a new concept, I’d pause, allowing the bankers to digest the details. This break acted as a mental “breather,” making the information easier to absorb and retain.

Knowing my audience was accustomed to fast-paced, data-driven presentations, I deliberately slowed down my delivery by incorporating pauses. This not only prevented me from rushing through my speech but also demonstrated my confidence in the content’s value, encouraging a more thoughtful engagement from the audience.

Before I introduced a vital behavior, I paused. This silence drew attention to the importance of what was coming next, helping the audience focus on the key takeaways that could impact their operations.

During my talk, I used pauses as moments to maintain eye contact with various audience members, enhancing my connection and keeping them engaged. Timing was crucial; I practiced the length and placement of pauses to ensure they felt natural and impactful.

This experience with the bankers solidified my belief in the power of pausing. It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. Mastering the art of pausing has allowed me to make my presentations not only informative but also compelling.

Gestures in public speaking

9. Make your gestures meaningful.

Using your body language can reinforce your verbal message. Gestures can be a powerful tool in public speaking, amplifying the message and enhancing the connection with the audience.

However, to be effective, gestures must be purposeful and align with the content.

Gestures should feel natural and not forced. Practice your speech with gestures, but always aim for movements that align with your personal style and the message you’re conveying. Authentic gestures can make you appear more genuine and relatable.

The movement of your hands should complement what you’re saying. For instance, if you’re discussing the size of an object, your hands can illustrate ‘small’ or ‘large’. This reinforces the message visually for your audience.

Repeating the same gesture can become a distraction and diminish its impact. Be aware of any habitual movements you might have and try to diversify your gestures throughout your speech.

Open gestures, like spreading your arms or showing your palms, can make you seem approachable and trustworthy. They convey openness and willingness to engage with the audience.

Be conscious of unintended or nervous gestures, such as playing with your hair, tapping your feet, or fidgeting with your clothes. These can be distracting and might convey nervousness or lack of preparation.

The space around you can be used to structure and emphasize your content. For example, you might gesture to your left when discussing the past and to your right when discussing the future, creating a visual timeline for your audience.

facial expressions in public spekaing

10. Make your facial expressions speak.

Your facial expressions can communicate emotions, highlight key points, and make your speech more engaging.

Facial expressions are a powerful non-verbal tool in public speaking. They convey emotion, emphasize points, and help in connecting with the audience on a deeper level. Here’s how to effectively use facial expressions in public speaking:

Just like gestures, facial expressions should be authentic. Forcing an expression that doesn’t align with your genuine feelings or the message you’re conveying can come across as insincere. Audiences often pick up on and resonate with authenticity.

Your facial expression should mirror the emotions of your topic. If you’re sharing a success story, a smile and bright eyes are fitting. Conversely, a serious or somber topic might be better conveyed with a more neutral or contemplative expression.

Often, we’re not fully aware of our resting facial expressions. It’s helpful to record yourself to become more conscious of your natural expressions and adjust as necessary.

The eyes are particularly expressive and can convey a range of emotions, from excitement and joy to sadness and concern. Making eye contact with various members of your audience can also help establish a connection and make your message more personal.

If you’re highlighting an important part of your speech, a change in facial expression can underline this significance. For example, raising your eyebrows can denote surprise or emphasis, while frowning can indicate disagreement or concern.

A tense face can be off-putting or convey nervousness. Try to relax your facial muscles. This not only appears more approachable but also helps in delivering your message more fluidly.

Speaking Techniques to Engage Audience

Audience engagement is crucial in public speaking as it fosters active participation and encourages learning. It transforms speech from one-way communication into a dynamic interaction, enhancing message retention.

Engagement fosters a connection between the speaker and the audience, making the presentation more memorable. It stimulates interest, invites feedback, and can even influence attitudes or behaviors.

In essence, audience engagement is a vital tool for creating a lasting impact on your speech.

11. Use eye contact.

Maintaining eye contact can help establish a connection with your audience, making your speech more personal and engaging. It’s like having a one-on-one conversation with each audience member.

I don’t need to look at each one of my audience. I create an imaginary W and I look at people in those directions. In that way, almost everyone thinks that I looked in their direction during my speech.

When I was young, someone told me to look above the heads of the audience. I saw many other speakers follow this advice. It is awkward. It is not helpful at all.

We must connect with our audience and eye contact can help us get connected with each other.

12. Engage your audience.

Engaging your audience is crucial because it helps create a connection between the speaker and the listeners. When you engage your audience, they feel understood and valued.

This connection makes them more receptive to the message you are sharing. Instead of feeling like they’re being talked at, they feel like they’re a part of a conversation.

When you engage your audience, they are more likely to remember the information you’re presenting.

Active engagement can include asking questions, sharing stories, or using visual aids that grab their attention. These methods make your message more memorable and can help the audience retain the information for a longer time.

When people are engaged, they process the information on a deeper level, leading to better comprehension and longer-lasting impact.

Lastly, engaging your audience allows for real-time feedback. By observing their reactions, body language, and responses, you can gauge how well your message is being received. This feedback is invaluable because it allows the speaker to adjust their approach or clarify points as needed.

If the audience seems confused or disengaged, the speaker can take steps to bring them back in, ensuring the message is effectively communicated. This adaptability can make the difference between a successful presentation and one that misses the mark.

Read: Hook ‘Em and Hold ‘Em: How to Keep Your Audience Engaged from Start to Finish

13. Use humor.

Know that humor and human share the same origin. Humor connects us, humans.

Using humor in public speaking helps to connect with the audience. When people laugh, they feel more relaxed and comfortable. This creates a positive environment where listeners are more open to the message being shared.

A well-timed joke or funny story can break down walls and make the speaker seem more relatable and approachable.

Humor also grabs people’s attention. In a world filled with distractions, a funny remark can pull listeners back into the moment and keep them engaged. Additionally, people tend to remember funny things better than non-funny things. S

When you use humor in your speech, your audience is more likely to remember your message long after the talk is over.

Appropriate humor can keep your audience engaged, lighten the mood, and make complex topics more accessible.

I recommend that you explore the following funny and entertaining topics.

Laugh and Learn: The Power of Humor in Speeches

14. Repeat and reinforce.

Repeating and reinforcing a message when you’re speaking in public is super important. It’s what makes your point stick. When you say your main idea more than once, it helps everyone remember it better because our brains love repetition.

Start off by clearly stating your main idea. Then, as you go on, bring it up again in different ways. Maybe tell a story, give an example, or ask a question to keep things interesting and fresh.

Every time you mention your main point, it gets stronger in your audience’s minds. Think of it like building layers—each mention adds depth and makes your message clearer. This way, it’s not just heard, but really understood.

Mixing up how you repeat your message keeps people engaged. It stops things from getting boring and helps different folks connect with your idea in their own way. A little variety goes a long way.

When you wrap up your speech, end with a strong restatement of your main point. This ties everything together and leaves a lasting impression. It’s like giving your audience a clear takeaway they can remember.

Good speakers know repetition isn’t about saying the same thing over and over again without a purpose. It’s about finding new ways to make your message resonate. This technique can turn a simple idea into something memorable.

15. Use relatable examples.

Using relatable examples in public speaking helps listeners understand the message better. When the audience hears something they can relate to, it’s easier for them to grasp the main idea. They can connect the new information to something they already know.

Also, when a speaker uses examples from everyday life, the audience feels that the speaker understands their world and experiences. This builds trust between the speaker and the listeners.

Relatable examples also keep the audience interested. When people hear stories or examples that remind them of their own lives, they pay more attention. They want to know how the story ends or how the example relates to the main topic. This keeps them engaged and focused on the speaker’s message.

A connected and attentive audience is more likely to remember and act on what they’ve heard

visual aids

Speaking Techniques on Using Visual Aids

Visual aids are a powerful tool in public speaking as they enrich the presentation by adding variety and stimulating interest. They support understanding by simplifying complex information, providing context, and helping the audience visualize concepts.

A well-chosen visual aid can enhance memory retention, as people often remember images better than spoken words. They also provide a point of focus, helping to sustain audience attention.

Ultimately, effective use of visual aids can significantly elevate the impact and comprehensibility of your speech.

16. Make it simple.

Visual aids can make or break your presentation. Choose simple, clear visuals that your audience can understand quickly. Avoid cluttered slides or overly complex graphs that might confuse or distract your listeners.

For example, when discussing population growth, opt for a straightforward line graph instead of a complicated 3D chart. A simple graph highlights the trends without any fuss, making it easier for your audience to grasp the key points.

Remember, the goal of visual aids is to support your message, not overshadow it. Keep them clean and to the point, and your presentation will be more impactful.

17. Be consistent.

When using visual aids, keep the colors, fonts, and style consistent. This helps your presentation look unified and professional. It shows you’ve prepared well.

Make sure your visuals match the mood of your speech. If you’re excited, bright colors can amplify that. If the topic is serious, muted tones might be better.

Doing this makes your message clearer and more impactful. It’s like dressing up your words to make a good impression.

18. Make your visual relevant.

When using visual aids in your speech, make sure they really add to your points. It’s not about just having pretty slides; every image or graph should link directly to what you’re talking about.

Take, for instance, a presentation on climate change. A graph that charts temperature rises over decades can turn abstract stats into something real for your audience. It makes your message both clear and impactful.

Remember Bill Gates’s Ted Talk? He discussed the importance of clean water and showcased a device that purifies waste into drinkable water. He didn’t just talk about it; he drank the water right there.

This bold move wasn’t just for show. It powerfully demonstrated his trust in the technology and underscored his points about innovation and health.

Such visuals stick with your audience. They aren’t just informative; they’re demonstrations that bring your words to life. Keep your visuals relevant, and your message will resonate more deeply.

19. Use infographics.

Infographics are fantastic for breaking down complex information into digestible pieces. Imagine you’re discussing renewable energy. An infographic can show all the different sources, like solar, wind, and hydro, in a way that’s easy to grasp and visually engaging.

Start by presenting the entire infographic to give your audience the big picture. This helps them see how each piece fits into the overall theme. It’s like showing a map before you start a journey – it sets the stage and provides context.

Then, dive into the details of each segment. For example, you might zoom in on solar energy, explaining how solar panels work and their benefits. This approach keeps the audience focused and aids in understanding one part at a time without feeling overwhelmed.

Remember, while infographics are powerful, there are times when focusing on just one part is more effective for learning. Tailor your presentation to the needs of your audience, ensuring they walk away with a clear understanding of the topic.

Find great examples of infographics on Pinterest.

20. Include captions.

Including captions or brief descriptions can make your visual aids more accessible and ensure that the audience understands the point being conveyed.

For example, if you’re presenting a chart, a caption summarizing the main point can help your audience quickly grasp the key message.

Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming anxiety is crucial in public speaking as it allows you to present with confidence and authenticity. High anxiety can hinder your performance, distort your message, and create a barrier between you and your audience.

By managing this anxiety, you can focus on your content and delivery, engage better with your audience, and effectively convey your message.

Learning to control public speaking anxiety can also boost your overall self-esteem and communication skills, offering benefits beyond the podium.

21. Use breathing techniques.

Before you start speaking, take a moment to breathe deeply. Just slow, deep breaths. It helps settle those jitters. Think about filling up your belly with air, nice and easy. It’s like getting ready for a big moment.

But here’s the thing: it’s totally okay to feel a bit nervous. That energy? It’s not your enemy. It shows you care and you’re ready to make an impact. You don’t have to be all calm to be passionate. Public speaking is more like performing—you’re there to connect, not just to relax.

Sometimes, we get scared because of the stories we tell ourselves. What if I mess up? What will they think? Deep breathing helps put those worries in check. It brings you back to now, not the scary what-ifs.

So keep breathing deep. It’s not just about fighting nerves, it’s about setting yourself up to speak well. With each breath, you’re more ready to step up and deliver your message with confidence.

22. Visualize yourself.

Let’s talk about a trick that can help calm those butterflies before you take the stage: visualization. Imagine this: you’re standing there, delivering your speech perfectly. The audience is totally into it, laughing at your jokes, clapping, and hanging onto your every word. Feels good, right?

I make this a part of my prep routine. Sure, it’s key to work on your gestures and how you project your voice, but picturing yourself nailing that speech? That’s just as crucial. It shifts your mindset from nervous to ready.

Ever catch yourself imagining things going wrong before they even happen? That’s visualization too, just not the helpful kind. Flip that around. Dream about the best scenario instead. If our minds can send us into a worry spiral, they can pump us up too.

So next time you’re up for speaking, use this trick. See yourself owning that stage. It’s not just make-believe; it’s mentally setting yourself up for a win.

23. Rehearse your speech.

Rehearsing is key to easing public speaking nerves. Practice your talk multiple times to get comfy with your content. You can do this in different ways—not just in front of a mirror!

I personally avoid mirrors. Instead, I record myself on my iPhone. It’s super handy. You can also use Zoom or any device with a camera. This way, you can review and improve.

Every speech is just practice for the next one. When I’m prepping for a big keynote, I try lots of rehearsal methods. I record myself, share my speech at Toastmasters, and even volunteer to speak at community events.

Remember, feedback is crucial—it’s like breakfast for champions! Keep rehearsing, and you’ll stay sharp and ready for any speaking gig.

24. Affirmations

Using positive affirmations can really bolster your self-confidence before a speech. Simply telling yourself, “I am a confident and engaging speaker,” can set a positive tone for your presentation.

Many people find affirmations helpful. I used them a lot when I was younger. Now, I prefer to pray and set my intentions that way. Instead of sending my hopes into the universe, I ask God for guidance.

Whether it’s affirmations or prayer, the key is finding what resonates with you and helps you feel prepared and empowered. Stick with what works for you, and you’ll find your confidence on stage grows with each speech.

25. Warm up.

Warming up isn’t just for athletes; it’s crucial for speakers too! Engaging in light physical activity, like walking or stretching, can help tame those jitters and manage adrenaline rushes.

I always take a brisk walk around the venue or do some stretches in the green room before speaking. It helps me feel more in control and ready to take the stage.

For me, warming up is non-negotiable. It’s part of my pre-performance routine along with prayer. These steps ensure I’m physically and mentally prepared to deliver a great speech.

Speaking Techniques in Organizing Speeches

A well-organized speech keeps your audience engaged, aids their understanding, and improves the retention of key points. It demonstrates respect for your audience’s time and attention, as well as showcasing your knowledge and preparation.

Good organization also boosts your confidence, as you can deliver your speech smoothly and coherently, knowing each point logically leads to the next.

In essence, effective speech organization is the backbone of impactful and successful public speaking.

26. Observe logical flow.

Every effective speech has three main parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Think of it as telling a story to your audience. You want to signal that you understand they are logical thinkers—though remember, they’re also driven by emotions.

Make sure your speech flows logically. If you’re explaining a process, go through it step-by-step. This helps your audience follow along easily and understand each part of what you’re talking about.

When discussing a problem and its solutions, start with the problem itself. Explain why it’s relevant and why the audience should care. People are more receptive to solutions when they feel connected to the problem.

Structuring your speech well is like building its skeleton—it supports everything and keeps it standing strong. This structure helps your audience grasp your message clearly and remember it longer.

Use clear transitional phrases to guide your audience from one point to the next. This could be phrases like “moving on to…”, “next, let’s consider…”, or “on the other hand…”.

28. Use signposting.

Structuring your speech clearly is crucial. Start by highlighting key points or sections. For example, you might introduce a topic by saying, “Let’s explore the three main causes of…”. This helps your audience follow along.

Signposting isn’t just verbal; it’s also about guiding your audience through your physical presence. I like to use the stage to reinforce my points. For instance, I might use different areas of the stage to represent different concepts like the “old world” and the “new world,” or “pros and cons.”

Moving around the stage based on the structure of your speech not only keeps your presentation dynamic but also helps the audience visualize your points. This way, your speech structure and your movements together enhance the clarity and impact of your message.

29. Recap your speech.

Think of your speech like a road trip with your audience. Along the way, it helps to point out landmarks so everyone stays on the same path. For example, after you share a few stories or key points, take a moment to recap. This makes sure everyone’s still with you.

Say you tell three stories about times you’ve stumbled. After the third one, you could say, “So, we’ve seen a few of my mess-ups. Now, let’s look at what those tough times taught me.” This helps your audience link everything together.

If your talk has several parts, like seven key points, try pausing after the third to summarize. Not everyone’s jotting notes, and even the note-takers might miss bits while they scribble. A quick recap helps everyone catch up.

I like to throw in an acronym or two as well. It’s like giving your audience a souvenir from the trip, something to help them remember the journey after they’ve gone home. Remember, the way you build your speech really shapes how your message lands. Show them the whole picture, so they can see how all the dots connect.

30. Provide a clear and compelling conclusion.

A great conclusion ties everything together. Summarize your key points and restate your main message or call to action. This helps reinforce what you want your audience to remember and do after your speech.

Let’s say your topic is healthy eating. You could wrap up by highlighting the benefits of a nutritious diet and encourage your listeners to try changing just one eating habit. It’s about leaving them with a practical takeaway.

If you’re aiming to persuade, end with a powerful call to action. Think of Barack Obama’s campaign slogan, “Yes, we can!” He used it to inspire action and hope, especially powerful at the end of his speeches.

Noynoy Aquino’s “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path) campaign is another example. It stood out against corruption and resonated deeply with the common people, despite criticism from politicians.

Make your ending so memorable that, even if details fade, the feeling and the call to action you instilled won’t. That’s the mark of a powerful speech conclusion.

Speaking Techniques for Handling Q&A

Handling Q&A effectively is crucial in public speaking as it fosters two-way communication, demonstrating your respect for the audience’s thoughts and questions.

It allows for clarification of points, deeper exploration of the topic, and immediate feedback. Successful management of Q&A sessions enhances your credibility, showing your comprehensive knowledge and readiness for dialogue. It also gives an opportunity to address doubts or misconceptions, ensuring your message is clearly understood.

Ultimately, well-handled Q&A sessions contribute to a more engaging, interactive, and effective presentation.

31. Prepare questions.

Handling a Q&A session well starts with good prep. Try to think of questions people might ask and come up with your answers ahead of time. This really helps you feel ready and confident when the questions start flying.

If you’re talking about something that might stir up strong opinions, get ready for some tough questions. Figure out what people might push back on and how you’ll respond.

I always like to think about what my audience might ask before I write my speech. Their questions are really important to them, and answering these keeps them hooked. Not every question makes it into my talk, but I make sure to cover the big ones. I even throw in a few they haven’t thought of but should.

Being well-prepared makes you look smart. People appreciate when you can handle their curveball questions smoothly. Sure, some questions will catch you off guard, and that’s fine. The key is to be ready for the ones that matter.

32. Listen actively.

Listening actively is crucial during Q&A sessions. Always wait until the person finishes their question. This not only shows respect but also ensures you really grasp what they’re asking.

Remember, people ask questions from their own perspectives. I often explain that my answers are based on my own experiences and context—there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all answer, especially when it’s about opinions. It’s important to acknowledge that different solutions may work for different people.

It’s also helpful to read between the lines. Some folks might ask lengthy questions to lay out their thoughts, while others might just want to clarify their point of view. Recognizing this helps me tailor my responses to truly address their concerns.

Ultimately, my role isn’t just to provide answers but to help people find their own solutions. I don’t always have all the answers, but I love to ask probing questions to help others explore possible solutions.

33. Clarify questions.

Active listening is key in Q&A sessions, but so is clarity. If a question seems unclear, don’t hesitate to ask for more details. This helps ensure you’re really addressing the query as intended, rather than just making assumptions.

As a coach, I find that answering questions with questions can be incredibly effective. It encourages people to think more deeply. But it’s also a practical tool for clarification. We all come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, which can color how we understand certain concepts.

For example, terms like “excellence,” “fair,” and “good” can mean different things to different people. By asking follow-up questions, I can better grasp what the person is actually asking and respond in a way that is truly helpful.

My goal isn’t just to provide answers, but to foster understanding and help others find solutions that work for them. This approach not only clarifies the conversation but also enriches it, making the exchange more meaningful for everyone involved.

34. Be honest; accept if you don’t know the answer.

It’s totally okay not to know every answer. If you’re stumped during a Q&A, just be honest. Say something like, “That’s a great question. I don’t have the information right now, but I’ll make sure to find out and follow up with you.”

In my line of work, I often speak with clients who face unique leadership challenges, some of which are only known to them and hidden from competitors. It’s natural not to have all the answers on the spot.

That’s why I try to immerse myself in my clients’ environments to better understand their issues.

However, when dealing with a broader audience, maintaining a beginner’s mind is beneficial. This mindset helps you stay open and genuine, preventing any pretense of knowing it all. It keeps the dialogue authentic and grounded, fostering a more meaningful connection with your audience.

35. Manage your time.

Keeping track of time is crucial during Q&A sessions to ensure everyone gets a chance to participate. If a question needs a detailed answer, I suggest continuing the conversation after the presentation. This approach helps manage the limited session time effectively.

Thanks to my experience with Toastmasters, I’ve honed the skill of responding quickly—usually in under two minutes, and often in just one. I generally cover the most vital points in my speech, making sure everything is clear and anticipating related questions.

Sometimes, questions arise that don’t directly relate to the topic. These might need more time or a different setting to address properly.

It’s also important to recognize when someone’s question is more about pushing their own agenda than engaging with the subject at hand. In such cases, I acknowledge their question but keep the focus on the main topic to avoid letting the session go off track.

This way, the event remains inclusive and on point, catering to the wider audience’s interests.

36. Respect your audience.

It’s important to treat every question with respect, no matter how simple or off-topic it might seem. This shows you value everyone’s input and are open to different perspectives.

For questions that stray from the main topic, a respectful response could be, “That’s an interesting point. While it’s a bit outside the scope of today’s talk, I’d be happy to discuss it with you afterward.”

Sometimes, I speak to groups who might feel hesitant about asking questions, worrying if they’ll make sense. For instance, when addressing participants who are native Visayan speakers, I encourage them to ask their questions in Visayan if they’re uncomfortable with Tagalog.

Being a speaker isn’t just about sharing knowledge; it’s equally about respecting and accommodating your audience. This approach not only fosters a supportive environment but also enhances engagement, making the session more inclusive and productive.

37. Redirect questions to others.

If a question comes up that’s more relevant for someone else, like another panelist or an expert in the room, it’s perfectly okay to pass it on. For instance, you might say, “That’s a great question, and I think our engineer here would be better equipped to answer it.”

I believe in not hogging the spotlight.

While some experts suggest that you should always try to shine, I focus on the goal of helping the audience. If someone else can provide a better answer, I happily give them the opportunity.

At times, I even throw questions back to the audience. This isn’t always the best move as it might eat up time or lead to unexpected answers, but it can be very effective.

For example, when working with school principals who face complex educational challenges, I’ve found that one principal’s problem might have already been solved by another. Facilitating this exchange can be incredibly valuable, allowing them to learn from each other’s experiences and solutions.

38. Summarize your points.

After responding to a question, it can be helpful to summarize your answer to ensure your point is clear.

For example, if someone asked a complex question about your business strategy, you could summarize your response with, “So, in short, our strategy focuses on customer satisfaction, product innovation, and market expansion.”

39. Be mindful of your body language.

Your body language is just as important during Q&A as it is during your talk. Make sure to keep eye contact, nod to show you’re following along, and use open gestures. This makes the whole session feel more like a chat.

Remember, you’re still communicating even when you’re not talking. People can tell if you think less of them or if you’re not really listening. It’s important to stand patiently and show respect while someone is asking a question—just like they listened to you.

I once heard about a preacher who said the Bible had all the answers. But if someone challenged him, he’d start cursing and wouldn’t let them finish their question. This might work for some, but it’s really not the best way to handle a Q&A. Staying respectful and open invites a better conversation and makes everyone feel valued.

40. End on a positive note.

It’s great to end your Q&A on a high note. You could wrap up by quickly going over the main points, thanking everyone for their questions, and sharing your excitement about the topic. This leaves a good lasting impression.

Remember, your call to action isn’t just for the main talk. The Q&A is a key part of your speech too. By summarizing what was discussed and linking it back to your main message, you remind everyone of the key takeaways and what you hope they’ll do next.

Q&A doesn’t happen in all my talks, but I really appreciate it when it does. It gives folks a chance to dive deeper into what matters most to them, making the whole experience more meaningful.

Speaking Techniques in Handling Unexpected Situations

Unexpected issues, whether technical glitches, disruptive audience members, or forgotten lines, are inevitable. How you respond can significantly impact the audience’s perception of you and your message.

Skillful handling of these situations can maintain the flow and effectiveness of your speech, keep your audience engaged, and even enhance your credibility.

It reassures the audience that you’re in control, even when things don’t go as planned, making your presentation more successful and memorable.

41. Stay calm.

Handling unexpected situations can really test your mettle as a speaker. Here’s how to keep your cool and make it through:

When something out of the blue happens—like tech glitches, rowdy folks in the crowd, or a mind blank—stay calm. Take a deep breath, give yourself a moment, and carry on when you feel ready.

Let me tell you about a time in Davao. I was scheduled to speak for an hour at 1 PM, and just five minutes in, we lost all power. No slides, no mic, no AC. But I knew my speech inside out.

So, I adapted. I had everyone crowd in closer, handed out paper, and spent the next 15 minutes teaching them something I promised would be life-changing.

That’s the thing about public speaking. If you’re well-prepared, you can handle almost anything. Just take it as it comes, and sometimes, you even end up having a bit of fun with it.

42. Have a backup plan.

Having a backup plan can be a game changer, especially when you rely on tech for your presentations. Here’s how you can be prepared:

Always expect the unexpected with technology. Having your presentation on multiple devices is smart. For instance, I keep my slides on both Gmail and Google Drive. That way, there’s always a backup someone can access quickly.

I usually create presentations in Keynote, but I also save a PowerPoint version just in case there’s an issue with the projector connecting to my MacBook. And I always ask for a whiteboard and markers to be available. If there’s a flip chart, even better—I really like to write as I talk.

Props are another great tool in my kit. Sometimes, I’ll even have the audience play a simple game. It’s all about having that extra something up your sleeve to keep things flowing smoothly, no matter what happens.

43. Make effective use of humor.

Humor isn’t just for smoothing over mistakes; it really brings your speech to life. Like, if you accidentally skip ahead on your slides, you could chuckle and say, “Looks like I just couldn’t wait to get to this part!” It lightens the mood and everyone usually gets a good laugh.

I always include a bit of humor in my talks. It’s not just filler—it’s a key way I connect with people. Humor makes the tough stuff easier to digest. Think about it, humor comes from the same root as “humus,” which means earth. It’s all about staying grounded.

Keep your eyes peeled for funny stories or jokes that fit your message. It’s not just about making people laugh—it’s about making your point stick while keeping things light and relatable.

44. Be adaptable.

Adapting on the fly is key when you’re speaking to an audience. If you notice that everyone’s pretty clued in on your topic, skip the basic stuff and go deeper. But if it looks like they’re not as up to speed, slow down and explain things more thoroughly to keep everyone on the same page.

Also, be ready to tweak the length of your talk if needed. I’ve been set up for a 90-minute talk and then had to squash it into 45 minutes because previous speakers went over their time.

And once, I was expecting to speak to 50 people, and 300 showed up! That totally changed the energy in the room, so I had to adjust how I interacted with the crowd.

And think about the space, too. You might be picturing a small room, and then find yourself in a huge hall. Being flexible with these things means you’re always ready, no matter what gets thrown your way.

45. Address distractions.

If there’s a distraction in the room, such as noise from outside or a phone ringing, it’s usually best to address it rather than try to ignore it. You could make a light-hearted comment to acknowledge the distraction, then smoothly steer the attention back to your speech.

For example, if a phone rings, you could say, “Well, that’s a timely reminder to check that our phones are on silent,” and then continue with your presentation.

Speaking Techniques to Build Credibility

Credibility and authority are fundamental in influencing audience perceptions, facilitating effective communication, and enabling you to inspire, inform, or persuade through your speech.

Credibility allows your audience to rely on the information you provide, making your speech more persuasive and influential.

Moreover, demonstrating authority on a topic not only reinforces your audience’s confidence in your insights but also heightens their interest and engagement

46. Know your material.

Understanding your topic inside out will make you more confident and credible. Do your research, be prepared to answer questions, and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in your field.

I know of some speakers who cannot talk without their presentation slides. For example, in one learning session, a speaker decided not to deliver a 15-minute speech because he could not open his PowerPoint file.

Many years ago, a friend, Perla asked me to coach her for a speech she was to deliver at the Asian Institute of Management. She had her videos and PowerPoint presentations prepared. Everything was well polished, and she practiced her speech. Her videos served as visual aids and her slides contained her talking points.

But before she was called, the projector malfunctioned. She was hesitant to deliver the speech, but I encouraged her to deliver the speech. She wrote and rehearsed that speech more than dozens of times. So, instead of a 25-minute presentation, she delivered a 12-minute speech (without the videos and photos) and she was given a standing ovation.

When you know your material, you can confidently deliver a speech even without your slides. Of course, there are occasions when your slide contains figures you cannot memorize. But you can always make the data easy to understand.

47. Speak from experience.

Whenever possible, share your own experiences or observations. This not only makes your speech more interesting but also establishes you as someone with first-hand knowledge of the topic.

I noticed that when I say, ” Speaking from experience…” people pay attention. They want to know about my experience with the topic. In effect, you are providing a testimony, a proof.

The next time you deliver a speech, find out if you can speak from experience.

More than creating a connection with your audience, an experience is an illustration. It is like a visual way of how to do things. When you share your experience, you allow them to have a vicarious experience of your life. Your experience will help them make better decisions if they find themselves in the same situation.

Read: How Public Speaking Turned My Life Around

48. Cite reliable sources.

If you’re using data, statistics, or quotes, make sure to cite your sources. This not only gives credit where it’s due but also demonstrates that your information is reliable and well-researched.

Journals and scientific papers are reliable sources. You may also interview experts and practitioners.

I love to go out of the house and interview people. It is easy to come up with an idea, form an opinion, and share your thoughts. But knowing how others experienced what you will talk about makes a great difference.

You must see things in many perspectives. Remember, your audience sees things from different perspectives too.

Citing sources will not make you credible. But it will tell your audience that you went the extra mile so you’ll have something to share beyond your experience and thinking.

49. Be honest and transparent.

If you don’t know something, admit it. If you made a mistake, own up to it. Honesty and transparency can go a long way in building trust with your audience.

It is normal for new speakers to “fake it”. Experts often give that advice. I won’t.

People want you to be genuine. They want someone who will not lie to them. They want someone who will not insult their intelligence.

Brene Brown became famous because of her talk on vulnerability, courage, and shame. She talked about what most people are trying to hide. It is okay to be vulnerable.

Old-school thinking made speakers hide their flaws. They thought that the only way for people to believe you was to pretend that you had achieved more than everyone. It is the same thinking that many influencers use to get followers.

This does not mean that you have to tell people every flaw you have. But it is important to embrace who you are and start there when you try to connect with others.

50. Show your passion.

Let your enthusiasm for your topic shine through. Your passion can be infectious, sparking interest in your audience and making your presentation more engaging. If you genuinely care about what you’re talking about, it’s much more likely that your audience will too.

Here’s how to uncover your passion.

Passion keeps your audience alive. It keeps you alive too. Your passion shows people where you are from, what you are today, and where you want to be. And there are those in the audience who have the same passion. They know that you want them to succeed, and for this reason they want you to be successful too.

So, always bring your passion to your speaking game.

FAQs

  1. Here’s a piece on how to use storyboarding in writing. You may use the same technique in speaking too. ↩︎
  2. Many speakers do not give titles to their speeches. I begin with titles because they tell me what the speech is all about. How to Win Friends and Influence People is a good title. It tells you what the book is all about. ↩︎

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Hello! I’m Jef Menguin, a professional speaker and corporate trainer. I started speaking professionally in 2004, but I’ve been talking to big groups since high school. I’m also a proud member of Toastmasters International, which has been a fantastic place for me to sharpen my public speaking skills.

I specialize in helping leaders master the art of public speaking and presenting. To really dive deep, I offer a two-day Public Speaking Masterclass tailored to the specific needs of organizations. If you want your leaders to inspire action and make things happen, I’m here to assist.

Interested? Book a discovery session with me to explore how we can work together. You can also check out many free articles I’ve written on this topic right here on my website.

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