Speaking appears like a powerful way to connect with people and a skill we should work on.
We don’t all feel completely comfortable talking in front of a large group of people, and there are many intertwined fears against which we must fight. The good news is we are here to show you the best public speaking tips that will make your next speech a piece of cake.
So, if you want to forget about your insecurities and use your power to send an important message next time you come up on stage, keep reading.
Why Should You Learn From TED Talks
TED talks are short, captivating, and incredibly useful lectures held by people who achieved great success in their respective industries. That alone should be enough to encourage you to go and watch one right now.
However, you might wonder – why are they useful for your public speaking skills?
Simply put – to carry out a successful TED talk, you have to be great at public speaking. These people know how to tell their story, and you should watch them attentively.
The more you watch, the faster you will pick up on subtle cues that make them such great public speakers.
It all may seem difficult for you at the moment, but you will see it’s not that big a deal. We have done the hard work for you, and we are bringing you the key steps to master this scary skill of public speaking quickly.
#1 – Come to Know Your Audience
Before you even start working on your speech, the most important thing is to know who you are talking to.
By understanding their needs, knowing their age and level of education, you can adapt your speech and make the best of it. You don’t want to give your listeners the information they already have or be overly “professional” in how you speak so that they can’t understand you.
Familiarizing yourself with your audience beforehand will help you adapt the spirit of your speech and prepare the presentation that fits the occasion.
Context (in this case – people around you) is key, and you better pay attention to it.
#2 – Create a Framework for Your Speech
The key is to organize all you have to say in the most effective way, which will allow you to achieve your goal.
People can’t remember all the things you say, but organizing them in the right way and repeating the main message at the appropriate time will produce the proper effect.
Bonus Tip #1
You could present the central theme first, then give examples and come back to the main topic.
How would this work in practice?
- Start by telling your listeners what you are going to be talking about in your speech. Show them the main idea behind it and why they should listen to you in the first place.
- Most importantly – tell them about the final destination! Promise them that your speech will be worth their time and that they will gain a LOT out of it.
- Dive deeper into the topic through real-life stories, examples, and anecdotes. Grab their attention and bring them to the edge of their seats. Build your idea through concepts that your audience already understands.
- Once you have gone through the examples, come back to the main idea and bring it home. Go into the specifics of your message and make sure that your audience hears it properly.
You can watch this incredibly useful video where Chris Anderson tells you everything about the importance of this approach:
Bonus Tip #2
You can save the solutions for the end of your speech. It’s a great way to keep your audience engaged throughout the entirety of your talk.
However, at the same time, it is a challenge! You don’t want to bore them out of their minds. You also don’t want them to think that you have nothing useful to share.
To avoid this, follow these simple steps:
- Start with an explanation of why you are talking about your main idea.
- Then, show that you truly understand the topic inside and out and deeply care about it.
- Focus on the problems you are trying to solve for them with your speech. Present the issues and use them as a tool to connect with the audience.
- In the end, talk about the solutions. Present your ideas that get rid of the problems you mentioned before.
These approaches are ultimately quite similar. However, there are small differences that can give your speech an entirely different feel. Choose the one that fits your topic the best.
#3 – Speak Powerfully
Most of the time, it is not just what you say but how you say it.
Being nervous shows how much you care about your speech. It shows that, to you, it is important to step out and talk about your topic. It means you are completely in the subject and that you are a responsible person.
But, whatever verbal tactics you are used to, it is better to speak strong and with confidence.
Don’t let stage fright interfere with the quality of your speech. There is a reason you will be up on the stage. Work on your composure and bring your A-game!
We could look at a speech from Emily Levesque – focused, strong and precise in what she wants to explain:
#4 – Memorize Your First and Last Lines
Of course, you don’t want to memorize the whole speech and lose spontaneity. You are not a computer that has to reproduce everything it knows.
Knowing the exact way to start and end will help you not lose track of the framework you created before. At the same time, you will give yourself room to speak naturally and respond to the atmosphere in between.
It’s a win-win situation!
This little tip will keep you from unwanted circumstances and from the possibility of not sending the message you wanted.
#5 – Don’t Overfill Your Slides with Text
If you plan on having a presentation complement your speech, be sure you don’t overfill it with sentences.
Keep in mind that most people respond better to visual stimuli rather than words. It’s easier to follow pictures and bullet points than long paragraphs of text.
Images and charts produce a stronger effect, and they can be a perfect addition to your speech. It is a good way of showing the proof of what you are talking about.
Moreover, too much text may distract you, and you will end up reading totally disconnected.
A solution may be to write just a few words to keep you on track. There is a useful tip here too – use the appropriate font size!
Here is a weird rule that can apply to some presentations that you will be creating:
Try to make your font size double the average age of your audience.
Another good idea could be to bring an object that will make your speech better. It is an opportunity to show in person what you are talking about, just like Carolyn Freiwald did with her skeleton:
#6 – Leave Your Notes at Home
Of course, you have written everything you want to say, but don’t show up on stage with your notebook.
It may reduce your credibility because it looks like you are not a specialist for the topic. It will send the message you don’t know what you are talking about, and people won’t believe you.
Also, it could cut down communication with your audience, and when that happens – they won’t listen to you.
#7 – Don’t Underestimate Practice
Practice makes perfect.
Besides that, it takes away the anxiety while speaking. Pounding hearts and trembling hands happen to all of us. Still, when you are well prepared, you can reduce these physiological reactions or at least get the power to control them.
So, take time to go through your speech as many times as you need. You can even ask your friends to be your little audience!
#8 – Meet the Environment Before Speaking
Knowing where you will be speaking, feeling the stage, projecting your presentation is equally important.
Feeling the soul of the venue will help you be more comfortable when the lights come on.
Test all the equipment if you can. Adapt the microphone to your speaking volume. Get a feel for the size of the room.
Going along with our previous tip, it helps if you can practice with the same tools you will be using on stage.
#9 – Warm Up Properly
Like every player does before going out on the court and playing the game, you can’t skip warming up.
- Take your time for some facial and vocal exercises.
- Meditate. Take a few deep breathes and calm down.
- Concentrate. Don’t allow any distractions to interfere with your speech.
- Don’t drink too many liquids. Prepare a small water bottle to carry on stage.
- Eat something simple. Now is not the time to be stuffing yourself with that tasty barbeque.
As time passes and you gain experience, you will develop your own routine to relieve the stress and hold up your speech in the best shape.
#10 – Don’t Start Talking Right Away
Avoid the mistake, and don’t talk as soon as you walk out on stage.
Show up and give some time to your audience to pay attention to you.
Just standing in front of them tells them that you are about to start, and they will intuitively stop talking and start watching at you, more than ready to hear what you have prepared.
Also, you will show that you are confident and that you have everything under control.
So, quietly walk in, find your perfect spot, wait a few seconds. Start when everything calms down and all eyes are on you.
#11 – Inspire Your Audience
Number 11 on our list of best public speaking tips is all about inspiring your audience. People often forget that their listeners are human beings.
If you step out wanting to teach them, to comfort, to inspire them, you will get their confidence.
They will want to listen to you over and over again.
But if you step out wanting just to sell something or rush your speech and get off stage, you will face rejection, and you will lose their trust.
#12 – Create a Positive Mindset
Of course, you can’t make jokes if they don’t come up naturally. (You could also check out our guide on how to be witty and solve this issue fast.)
Nevertheless, stepping out with a positive attitude and smile on your face makes a big difference and helps you create a friendly atmosphere.
When you are “mentally smiling”, you will spontaneously insert jokes where needed.
You can keep talking about a serious topic but still carry that positive aura around you. It will make your audience feel they are talking and listening to an old, well-known friend.
Check out Vanessa Van Edwards talking about how our behavior impacts how others see us, but with a smile on her face. It makes it so enjoyable to listen to her and understand what she is saying:
#13 – Make Eye Contact
Creating a deep connection with your audience is crucial for a successful speech.
The only way to create it is to connect with every individual sitting out there.
It would be best to look at a specific person throughout an entire sentence or thought. Try to talk to everyone in the crowd at one point in your talk. It will cause bigger emotions and have a stronger effect than when you look at everyone simultaneously.
Having direct contact makes the feeling you are talking with that specific person, which makes you memorable in their eyes.
#14 – Focus On the Positive & Enjoy Yourself
For sure, you will see people in the crowd furrowing their brows, crossing their arms, standing bent over. Some may even fall asleep, and that may have nothing to do with your speech! They could be having a hell of a week.
Don’t allow yourself to focus on the negative individuals in the crowd. Wouldn’t you agree that it is better to focus on the people who support you?
When you find people smiling at you, nodding “yes”, and positively interacting with you, you will be much more confident and relaxed.
Focus on them and enjoy your speech! You will replace nervousness with excitement and enjoyment.
#15 – Don’t Rush Through Your Speech
Rushing through your speech happens unconsciously.
When we get nervous, our body’s natural reaction is to speak quicker, like we are trying to escape as faster as we can.
But, during your speech, it is important to control this.
The audience is on your side, not against you. They didn’t come to judge you but to hear you and pay attention to what you have to say.
Please slow down and think about every word you say. Your audience will do it with you. It’s a great way to help them understand your message better.
Watch this great example of how you can adjust the speed of your talk according to what you want to emphasize – and look how confident Max Rashbrooke looks:
#16 – Use Pauses
Consider this tip as a continuation of the previous one.
When you slow down, you will find it easier to emphasize the important things by pausing after or before a vital point.
Stopping doesn’t directly mean shutting down the speech or conversation. It means you are pointing out what is important for you and what you want your listeners to understand properly.
While making pauses, you give a chance to your audience to think about what they just heard and absorb the information.
#17 – Just Keep Talking
It happens even to the best speakers out there – sometimes they forget their speech or one part of it.
But the tip is just to keep going like nothing happened.
Don’t be so hard on yourself trying to make everything perfect. No one even knows what you planned to say at that moment, so no one will notice you skipped something.
And if you made a simple framework of your speech, it will be easy for you to jump right back in!
#18 – Don’t Forget the Humor and Emotion
People often forget what happened, but they never forget how somebody made them feel. This is one of the most important public speaking tips on our list.
Make sure you make room in your speech for humor – it could be metaphors or rhetorical questions.
Metaphors could be mini-stories perfect for explaining a new concept through something familiar. There is no doubt you will get a reaction from your listeners, and it will be as you opened a new world for them.
When you tell a story, the listener’s brain reacts as if they were in it. This is a great way not just to grab their attention but to make your speech more memorable.
Rhetorical questions could be good for making a dramatic effect or highlighting a point. You could take advantage of this by saying something funny or asking your audience how they would feel in that situation.
We will leave you to enjoy and smile throughout this Ken Robinson’s speech! Look how delighted people are while listening to him:
#19 – Pay Attention to Nonverbal Cues
Nonverbal behavior is as much as important as verbal communication.
Our nonverbal reactions follow up verbal statements or often come before them. Still, for sure, they carry the biggest part of the message.
Some studies of TED talks show that speakers get the same ratings whether viewers watch them with or without the sound.
Hence, pay attention to your head, arms, fingers, legs, and overall posture. They may send the message you don’t want, but also, they might help you point out what is important for you.
Look at Susan Cain during her speech. The first thing you notice will be her body language:
#20 – Be Open to Questions
When you get closer to the end of your speech, make sure to save some time for questions.
It would be amazing to give your audience a chance to interact. Be ready to respond and solve all the dilemmas they have. If your speech was interesting, the chances of that happening are extremely high.
That’s how you make an even better connection, build up trust, and establish your expertise on the topic.
#21 – Learn Through Feedback
Sometimes others see better than ourselves, and we often learn more from our mistakes than anything else.
It would be best if you could practice in front of a live audience – even if that’s your mom or best friend.
They can tell you immediately if something confused them or if your words were unclear. You can establish if your rhythm is good, where you make unnatural pauses, or anything that may help you carry out your speech better.
Also, after your official performance, you could do a little survey and ask your listeners what they liked and didn’t like in your speech. Analyze all the good and bad impressions so that you can make adjustments the next time.
That’s the only way you will make real progress.
Now, we would be happy to hear some feedback from you.
Which of these public speaking tips did you find the most useful? Would you add something to our list?
Let us know by leaving a comment down below!