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The Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking

Discover the Do's and Don'ts of public speaking and how to be a more confident public speaker.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking

Public speaking is a valuable skill that can open doors to countless opportunities, from career advancements to personal growth. Whether you're addressing a large audience or presenting to a small group, mastering the art of public speaking is essential. 

When you consider that ‘75% of the population has a fear of public speaking’, it is evident that public speaking is daunting to the majority of people.

In this guide, we will explore the key do's and don'ts of public speaking to help you become a more confident and effective communicator. From understanding your audience to avoiding common pitfalls, these insights will equip you with the tools to captivate your audience, convey your message with impact, and leave a lasting impression. 

Let's dive into the world of public speaking excellence with our three Do’s and three Don’ts of public speaking.

 

The Do’s

1. Know Your Audience

Understanding your audience is a fundamental pillar of effective public speaking. To connect with and engage your listeners, you must first comprehend who they are and what they expect from your speech. 

Start by researching their demographics, interests, and knowledge level. Are they experts in your field, or do they have a general understanding of the topic? Tailor your content and tone accordingly. Additionally, consider their values, beliefs, and potential biases to ensure your message resonates with them. 

Engage in conversations or surveys if possible to gather insights and address their specific needs and concerns. By putting in the effort to know your audience, you'll be better equipped to craft a speech that speaks directly to their hearts and minds, ultimately increasing your chances of delivering a successful and impactful presentation.

Engaging with your audience can put them at ease and can keep them more engaged and interested in what you have to say.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

The key to improving your skills in public speaking is repetition. You'll become increasingly confident and articulate as you practise. Start by practising your speech many times. This calls for an in-depth understanding of what is being discussed in addition to memorisation of it. Practice in front of a mirror to improve your facial expressions and body language. 

Alternatively, record yourself to determine your weak points, such as vocal tone and pace. To replicate the pressure of a live audience, consider delivering practice presentations in front of a trusted friend or colleague. Never disregard the importance of practice; it not only improves your knowledge of the subject but also develops your confidence.

Remember, the more you practise, the better equipped you'll be to handle any unexpected twists during your actual presentation, making you a more effective and convincing public speaker, as well as being equipped to face any unforeseen challenges during your actual presentation.

 

3. Use Gestures & Body Language

By giving your message more depth and clarity, gestures and body language can dramatically improve your public speaking abilities. They can be utilised to successfully communicate feelings, highlight important ideas, and engage nonverbally with your audience. 

Add genuine and deliberate motions to your speech to maximise this impact. For example, use open hands to convey honesty and sincerity or utilise hand gestures to clarify ideas. To convey confidence and authority, keep your shoulders back and avoid excessive pacing or fidgeting, which can be distracting. 

In order to connect with them and come across as approachable, make eye contact with your audience as well. The issue, as always, is balance; your motions ought to enhance rather than overpower your speech. To improve your body language and make sure it matches your verbal message, practice in front of a mirror or record yourself. 

A speech can become intriguing and memorable with the use of effective gestures and body language.

 

The Don’ts

1. Don’t Memorise Your Entire Speech (Yes Really)

While it's important to prepare well for your speaking engagement, it may not be worthwhile to memorise your entire speech in its entirety. Reciting a script can make you sound robotic and disconnected from your audience. Instead, make an effort to fully comprehend the subject matter. 

Focus on the speech's key points, structure, and flow. This allows you to express yourself more organically using this strategy by adapting to the circumstances and the audience's reactions.

By understanding the material, you can engage with your listeners more effectively, responding to their questions and needs in real time. You'll also have the flexibility to adjust your delivery if necessary, making your speech feel more dynamic and authentic. 

 

To avoid forgetting important details, use bullet points or an outline as a reference during your presentation. This approach strikes a balance between being well-prepared and maintaining a genuine connection with your audience, ensuring a more successful and engaging public speaking experience.

2. Don’t Rush

Rushing through your speech is one of the most typical mistakes people make when speaking in public. If you speak too quickly, it could become difficult for your audience to understand what you are saying, which will lessen the impact of your presentation. Practise keeping a steady, moderate pace to prevent this. Give each idea or point the consideration it deserves so that your audience can comprehend and process the information.

Rushing not only hinders comprehension but also makes you appear anxious and less confident. It's perfectly normal to feel a bit nervous before speaking in public, but consciously slowing down your delivery can help mitigate those nerves. If you find yourself racing through your speech, take deliberate pauses.

These moments of silence can be powerful, allowing you to improve the focus of your audience and for them to digest what you've said, providing you with a breather to regain composure. Remember, clarity and composure often go hand in hand in effective public speaking.

So, take your time, breathe, and deliver your speech with confidence and poise.

 

3. Avoid Distracting Habits

While delivering a public speech, it's essential to be aware of and eliminate distracting habits that can divert your audience's attention and detract from your message. Some common distracting habits include pacing back and forth, fidgeting with objects, or constantly adjusting your clothing or hair.

These actions not only draw attention away from your speech but can also convey nervousness or a lack of confidence.

To overcome these habits, practice self-awareness. Record yourself giving a speech or ask for feedback from a trusted friend or colleague to identify any distracting behaviours. Once you're aware of them, work on replacing these habits with more constructive ones.

For instance, instead of pacing, plant your feet firmly and use purposeful movement when necessary to emphasise a point. If you tend to fidget, keep your hands occupied with a clicker or use deliberate gestures to enhance your speech.

Ultimately, the goal is to project confidence and maintain your audience's focus on your message, not on your distracting habits. With practice and mindfulness, you can overcome these distractions and become a more engaging and effective public speaker.

Remember, practice is key; the more you hone your abilities, the more confident and captivating you will become.

In the realm of public speaking, success hinges on a delicate balance of skills and techniques. By embracing the do's and steering clear of the don'ts outlined in this guide, you have the potential to transform your public speaking prowess. 

Effective public speaking is not just about conveying information; it's about connecting with your audience, inspiring them, and leaving a lasting impression. Armed with these insights, you can embark on your public speaking journey with renewed confidence, knowing that you have the tools to engage, inform, and influence your audience.

So, go ahead and apply these principles, refine your approach, and watch as your public speaking skills evolve, allowing you to shine in a variety of personal and professional contexts. The world is your stage—step up, speak out, and make your mark.

 

We are Tramshed Tech: a startup ecosystem home to 50+ companies ranging from pre-revenue start-ups to scaling businesses with 600+ registered members from the digital, creative and tech communities.

We’re currently based in GrangetownCardiff Central & Newport, and are soon expanding to other sites across South Wales to Barry and Swansea.

If you’re interested in joining us at any of our locations, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. And for more tips about public speaking, including how to overcome a fear of public speaking, check out our blog page. 

Written by Will Jackson for Tramshed Tech.

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