7 Quick Tips To Be Better At Public Speaking

by Amit Sodha

in Tips

Public Speaking

At some point in your life you are going to be called upon to speak in front of some kind of audience.

It could be in any capacity, for example; giving a best wo/man speech; or talking about your company’s performance at your annual stockholders meeting.

I personally don’t believe public speaking is as big a fear for people as it once was. However, it can still be nerve racking, but there are a few simple things you can do to alleviate them.

The big question is of course: Is it going to be the kind of speech that leaves people feeling energized and gagging for more? Or will it leave people doing that thing where they have to try and disguise their yawns as a deep breath?

I’ve given hundreds of talks and each time I’ve learned something new to make the next one better. I’ve done some bad ones and some good ones. Luckily my bad ones weren’t terrible and the good ones always got plenty of compliments.

All that I’ve learned is through trial, error, and practice. I’ve also used my experience as a comedian to make what I say more engaging and funny. Use these 7 tips so your next speaking engagement is memorable…in a good way. :lol:

1. Relaxing Openers

If you get nervous you’ve got find a way to relax. I still get nervous so my technique is simple. I find a good opener. Something that will break the ice and get people laughing in the first minute. I’ll give you an example.

I was hosting a singles event on Saturday and before I did the icebreakers I gave a quick talk to the attendees. I started with something like: “Welcome and thank for you coming…I’ve only been invited with one purpose…as eye-candy! The organizers thought having a pretty face such as mine will definitely bring the punters in.”

Simple and effective. I felt relaxed and people laughed.

2. Stories

Have a rehearsed anecdote ready. Any story relevant to your event. I was giving a talk to some youngsters recently and I was telling them my experience of how I completely flopped at high school.

It’s a funny story of how I broke the news to my parents. I added a few things in there to spice it up a bit and I also say it in a way that makes it entertaining and relevant to the audience. When I told the story I had them cracking up!

3. Pauses

If you do that thing where you hold your breath as you talk and run out of air. Use a pause for effect and use that moment to catch your breath. Use eye contact to hold peoples attention as you segue between sentences.

4. Jokes

Jokes are good for any occasion and can be used at any time. If you want to see a good example of this watch Sir Ken Robinson giving his talk on Ted about creativity. He drops in his jokes at random times just to keep the audience engaged. You can do the same!

5. Questions

If you get stuck at any point you can use to this trick to get back on track. Ask the audience if you’re going too fast or if they have any questions so far? You can always repeat it at the end but it’s a great technique in case you’ve veered off track and have lost your chain of thought.

I’ve done similar things whilst doing comedy but instead I started a conversation with a member of the audience. It worked just the same.

6. Activities

As part of your talk you can include an activity and the sky’s the limit with what you can do. Again, so long as it’s relevant in some way to your presentation you can pretty much do anything.

If it’s something fun, your audience will love you even more. In fact the magic is that they do all the work but they’ll credit you at the end for making it fun.

7. Slow Down

I generally talk very fast which is fine but it’s good to remind yourself occasionally to slow down if you’re a fast talker like me. Alternately if you do speak fast then just pause and do a quick summary every now and then before you continue.

Simple and effective tips. If you want to get better at speaking then contact me for one-on-on coaching.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Justin | Personal Growth
Twitter: Mazzastick

Great tips Amit. I remember in junior high school we had to give oral reports every week in front of the class. After the first few times it was real easy to do for me.
New at Justin | Personal Growth\’s blog post ..Salt and Fluoride are Killers for Spiritual Growth

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2 Amit Sodha
Twitter: amitsodha

Hey Justin – again apologies for my tardy reply!

That sounds like a great and simple idea, I’m surprised more schools don’t do it. We had to read in front of the class but it’s not the same.

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3 Josh

Hey great advice. I was the best man at my best friends wedding last year. What really helped me was talking to people before the speech. It felt more like just chatting with people I knew than presenting to strangers.

I didn’t need to prove anything because I already had, so I just had to give the speech.

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4 Amit Sodha
Twitter: amitsodha

Hey Josh,

I use that same method too, it’s easier to make a speech with friendly and familiar faces in the audience rather than to deliver it to a sea of strangers.

How did the speech go? Do you have a video of it? I’ve got one of a wedding speech I did a few years back…it went really well!

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5 Josh

Hey Amit,

There’s a video of it floating around somewhere. What I can’t get over is the giant rush that public speaking is. While I was giving the speech the audience disappeared. I turned to my friends who were getting married and I realized I was really up there to talk to them, and everyone else just wanted to watch that.

I’m pleased your speech went well. You write well so maybe you wrote it first?
New at Josh\’s blog post ..Should Meditation be Legal?

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6 Amit Sodha
Twitter: amitsodha

Yep I wrote mine out and rehearsed but I still too my notes up with me…Being a comedian it was second nature to do it that way – here’s a short clip of the first 2 mins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc0DVS65LWA&feature=related

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7 Josh

Hilarious and a treat to listen to. I am a giant fan of comedy and you have the gift.

It looks like you’re having fun too! Congrats.
New at Josh\’s blog post ..Should Meditation be Legal?

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8 Amit Sodha
Twitter: amitsodha

Aww thanks Josh!

Hope 2012 is your best year yet! :-)

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9 John

I’ve found that experience is the best thing for improving your public speaking. I was scared to say anything in public for years, then I had a job that forced me to learn how. Now it’s second nature. Sure, I bumbled it a few times at the start, but you will get better with time. Nice post!
New at John\’s blog post ..The T Mobile Girl Painting

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10 Amit Sodha
Twitter: amitsodha

Hey John!

Absolutely! There is no substitute for experience at all! I would also say to people to try different scenarios. I have a teacher friend who is great in front of her class but in any other situation she gets terrified of delivering speeches.

Because of my experience now, I still feel the nerves but I just can’t wait to get up on stage and do what I love doing!!

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11 Josh Peete

As a superintendent / principal, I speak publicly rather often. I think that two keys to help others would be know your stuff and practice. Knowing your topic will give you confidence when you speak. Nothing is worse than listening to someone reading off notes word for word…. Also, practicing will give confidence. When you do these two keys over and over – you’ll soon be very natural – looking and feeling comfortable in front of crowds.

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12 Amit Sodha
Twitter: amitsodha

Hi Josh, you’re absolutely spot on. It’s very hard to beat practise and knowing your subject well.

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13 skittles234

Another fabulous article! Thankfully my confidence of public speaking was cultivated in my uni days when we had to give numerous presentations (as a group or as a solo). Nowadays, instead of typically shying away, I’m ready to give a public speech or a presentation without feeling as nervous as I used to back in primary school…

Amit, your article highlights some very insightful techniques that a lot of managers need to learn and master because believe me when I say that I have sat through a lot of long, torturous presentations in my previous jobs (whilst stifling a yawn every 2 seconds!) where people are reading directly off their notes or off the projector screen and I’m like “dude guess what? We can read off the screen too!” or worst case scenario, saying “erm…erm…” every other word.

I seriously recommend you giving coaching sessions to corporate and academic institutions where people are in dire need of professional and sound advice from someone as awesome as u :-)

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14 Amit Sodha
Twitter: amitsodha

Thank you very much skittles, I will definitely consider doing more of that in the future! Thank you so much for the compliments (and complimints) too! ;-)

~Amit

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