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Be a Better Public Speaker

Updated on September 2, 2015

Anyone who has a voice can be a good public speaker, even if they have a stammering or stuttering problem. There are many good therapy programs to help those having this handicap. Sooner or later everyone finds themselves in the position of having to speak in public.

Many find the thought of getting up in front of a crowd to speak terrifying. Presentation skills come with experience and time. The key is preparation. There are many things one can practice doing to prepare themselves beforehand.

First and foremost is thoroughly researching the topic to be spoken on. The audience will know little about what the subject of conversation will be or else there wouldn’t be a speaking engagement. It’s the speaker’s task to inform them and if they’re well prepared there’s little to be worried about. The audience wants to know.

Certainly, every novice at a podium has been afraid they will mess up somehow. To overcome this fear, practice the presentation with friends or family and let them give constructive criticism.

One major drawback for some beginners is a pronounced accent from a north or south region of the country. It’s important to articulate and pronounce words properly. Listen to a professional broadcaster. Many do mouth exercises before their performance, pronouncing letters, syllables or phrases. Make sure to take time and breathe.

It’s also important to speak at a proper pace. Speak too slowly, listeners will lose interest. Talk too fast, they won’t be able to digest the information. Another thing to avoid is a monotone...boring. Raise and lower the intonation, speaking loudly enough so people can hear clearly.

The audience must feel involved. And if the speaker is staring at paper on the podium or a spot on the wall across the room they won’t be. Most experts suggest looking at varying sections of the auditorium every few seconds. A good example would be looking to the left side, then the center and on to the right. They also advise using your hands to emphasize important points instead of letting them hang limply at your side.

For those worried about forgetting what part of their speech they're at, there’s no law against making a few cue cards. But don’t make a habit of staring at them, just glance to keep track. There’s also nothing wrong with having visual aids. They help make any topic more interesting.

Professional speakers will agree, having a small bottle of water handy is a good idea. Speaking for any length of time will give a speaker a dry mouth. A sip now and then will keep the mouth hydrated and easier to pronounce words. Here are a few more tips to make a speaking engagement go off easier:

· Appearance is paramount. Wear appropriate clothing and be well groomed.

· Prepare in advance. Check out the room where the speech will be made and ensure sound equipment is set at the proper volume and the video apparatus is in working order. Nothing is more embarrassing for a speaker than when a microphone or equipment fails to operate.

· Record your speech and play it back. This will show where improvements can be made.

· Keep it simple. Stick to the outline and avoid getting off topic, making the presentation longer than necessary. Remember, some in the audience may have other pressing engagements.

· Stand up straight and don’t slouch. Standing straight makes breathing easier and allows for better voice projection.

· Be on time. Making a late entry gives a bad first impression.

· Keep a handkerchief handy to dry sweaty palms.

· Greet the audience with a smile and then introduce yourself and the topic.

· Keep a happy expression and don’t look frightened.

· When possible, search for some websites having humor on the chosen theme. Humor will relax the audience, making the job at hand a little easier.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Faith Reaper, Ummm, nice little story.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Excellent hub. I was reminded of my speech class in college. My professor sat in the back of the room with an empty coffee can and a large bag of marbles? I was so shy back then, and I was the first one up to give a three-minute little speech. Well, I found out real quick what the marbles were for- every time you said "um" or when you had a "long pause," CLANG, went the marbles into the coffee can, which made you have a "long pause," just for the sheer shock of hearing it! So, needless to say I was the "um" and "long pause" queen!!! Ha. I will never forget that time, and it actually did make me aware of how much I said "um." In His Love, Faith Reaper