Public Speaking Tips

Ensure your speech will be captivating to your audience as well as worth their time and attention. Videotape your presentation and analyze it. Emphasize your strong points during your presentation.

Be solemn if your topic is serious. Present the desired image to your audience. Appear relaxed, even if you feel nervous. Establish rapport with your audience. If a microphone is available, adjust and adapt your voice accordingly.

Master the use of presentation software such as PowerPoint well before your presentation. Persuade your audience effectively. Speak loudly and clearly. Sound confident. Maintain sincere eye contact with your audience. If what you have prepared is obviously not getting across to your audience, change your strategy mid-stream if you are well prepared to do so. Allow yourself and your audience a little time to reflect and think. Keep audience interested throughout your entire presentation. Remember that an interesting speech makes time fly, but a boring speech is always too long to endure even if the presentation time is the same.

Check out the location ahead of time to ensure seating arrangements for audience, whiteboard, blackboard, lighting, location of projection screen, sound system, etc. are suitable for your presentation.

Tell audience ahead of time that you will be giving out an outline of your presentation so that they will not waste time taking unnecessary notes during your presentation.

Here are just a few hints, public speaking tips and techniques to help you develop your skills and become far more effective as a public speaker.

  • Mistakes

    Mistakes are all right.

    Recovering from mistakes makes you appear more human.

    Good recovery puts your audience at ease – they identify with you more.

  • How to use the public speaking environment

    Try not to get stuck in one place.

    Use all the space that’s available to you.

    Move around.

    One way to do this is to leave your notes in one place and move to another.

    If your space is confined (say a meeting room or even presenting at a table) use stronger body language to convey your message.

  • Tell stories

    Stories make you a real person not just a deliverer of information.

    Use personal experiences to bring your material to life.

    No matter how dry your material is, you can always find a way to humanise it.

  • Technology

    Speak to your audience not your slides.

    Your slides are there to support you not the other way around.

    Ideally, slides should be graphics and not words (people read faster than they hear and will be impatient for you to get to the next point).

    If all the technology on offer fails, it’s still you they’ve come to hear.

  • Humour

    Tell jokes if you’re good at telling jokes.

    If you aren’t good, best to leave the jokes behind.

    There’s nothing worse than a punch line that has no punch.

    Gentle humour is good in place of jokes.

    Self-deprecation is good, but try not to lay it on too thick.

You can learn to enjoy public speaking and become far more effective at standing in front of a group of people and delivering a potent message.

And remember to keep practicing!


Leading by example

Military leaders know that setting a good example is the best way to mold the behavior you want to see in subordinates.
There’s no better way to garner the respect of those who look to you for cues about work ethic than to have a great one yourself. Nothing kills the spirit of a team faster than a leader who sees himself separate from and above the standards he sets for them.


With the military, there is obviously a lot more at stake than corporate profit. The ability of a group of people to work together and to trust each other can mean the difference between life and death. But there are lots of other tangible benefits of great teamwork, including greater efficiency, clearer role sets, and an infusion of different ideas into a process.


This is where it seems to me that the corporate world is most deficient, and many of the communication issues stem from the top down. Leaders should share the vision with everyone who has a role in making it happen.

No sugar coating

In the military, if someone is exhibiting a pattern of behavior that could be detrimental to him or to his peers, that person is told about it. Military leaders are working to build better people. If honest appraisals make that happen, then more power to them. None of the corporate HR double-talk that has arisen due to a fear of lawsuits or hurt feelings. If someone misses deadlines on your staff, then just say it. Don’t try to “soften the blow” by saying, “Deadlines were missed.” This does not mean that, you get in an employee’s face and scream like a drill sargeant, but give that person an opportunity to correct the unacceptable behavior.

Being explicit with expectations

It may be drilled into their heads, but military personnel understand what is expected of them. And again, this is easier to do in that case because the repercussions are more black and white. You don’t do your job in a situation of conflict and someone could die. But good managers can and should make expectations clear (and not just “make us more money”) in the corporate world.


Maybe this is a naive way of thinking, but wouldn’t it be nice if corporate employees could wear ribbons or medals indicating their accomplishments in the field? Actual recognition for an achievement that might otherwise be forgotten about months down the road? Maybe it would be harder for executives to lay off older workers if those employees had rows of medals on their lapels.