How to Improve Public Speaking – The 4 Golden Rules

Published on September 20, 2012 by Annetta Wilson

Before you collect information on how to improve public speaking, you need to know a little secret: Almost everyone – with few exceptions – is afraid of public speaking on some level. There is something scary about feeling judged by a huge mass of people. The key is working with the fear, facing it and acknowledging it. You can master this skill, provided you use the right techniques. Here are four rules to follow:

Rule No 1: Know Your Subject Inside and Out. There no two ways about it, this is the most important component of how to improve public speaking. Do your homework. Become relentless in finding out everything you can about your topic so you can master it. The more confident you feel you know your subject, the more confident you will appear and the more powerful your connection with your audience.

Rule No 2: Know Your Audience Well.  You can talk about the same subject many different ways depending on your audience. To really connect with your audience, find out about them. For example, speaking on the subject of working with the media requires a very different approach when your audience is a group of CEOs, instead of a group of public relations professionals.

Rule No 2: Practice, Practice, Practice.  You may feel silly or awkward, but it’s essential to practice in front of a mirror or have someone videotape you.  You should see yourself as your audience sees you. Observe your body language; listen to your inflections and the tone of your voice. People should feel like you’re having a conversation with them, not reading to them. This is a critical in learning how to improve public speaking.

Rule No 3: Don’t Be Afraid to Use Humor. There are few sweeter sounds to a public speaker than the genuine, appreciative laughter of an audience. Putting an audience at ease with humor is a powerful way to connect. Warning: The best received humor is when you speaker laugh at your own shortcomings. Don’t try to be a professional comedian.

Rule No 4: Use the KISS approach – One of the key rules on how to improve public speaking is “Keep It Short and Simple.” Whatever your subject, your audience will love you if you stick to the subject and make it easy to understand. Always be aware of the attention span of your audience, time your speech accordingly and leave them wanting more.

Pay attention to these simple techniques and you’ll quickly learn how to improve public speaking.

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Published in audience, speech

2 Responses

  1. Amy Woidtke

    Thanks for those tips! Did you know that you wrote 2 Rule Number 2's? Just thought you might like a heads up if you didn't see that. :)

    I am a blossoming speaker, advocate, educator, and facilitator. I'm very excited to be learning these first steps as I forge forward!

    Thank you!

  2. Gerry Sont

    mmm, I think it should read 5 tips not 4?

    The trouble for 90% of people is that all above takes too long and public speaking is not the same as business presentation skills. Bottom line - as per Anetta, it's all about confidence however the challenge that faces 90% of people is that 1. They are not subject matter experts ( business especially) 2. They have little sense of humour or don't know what appropriate humour looks and sounds like and 3. Don't have the time to practice

    Try these 3:
    1. Start with a hook. 2. Three key messages only 3. End with a call to action.

    Most people are just trying to learn how to drive a car so there's little point in giving them the techniques used by advanced drivers.


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