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Is this thing on? Communications experts reveal tips for public speaking


Public speaking is a vital skill for most professionals today. You don’t have to be a public figure to need the skills on communication effectively to an audience. Like with any skill, practice makes perfect and there are also easy to follow tips on what to avoid and what to remember to include in your speech or presentations.

It’s evident in the online search volumes alone which are up 50% this year for ‘public speaking tips’. That shows how more and more people are looking to improve their public speaking. has shared five crucially important tips for public speaking so that you can avoid the kind of comms nightmares like those seen in the news recently from Christiano Ronaldo.

The best five tips for public speaking are to avoid these mistakes: 

1. Failing to engage your audience

Two common mistakes speakers make when presenting include not identifying the audience beforehand and not engaging them once the speech begins. Don Franceschi, author of From Awful to Awesome: 9 Essential Tools for Effective Presentations says, “you need to KNOW your audience before you can connect with them.” Doing some research on the audience beforehand provides you with the opportunity to tailor specific ideas or talking points to them, making the speech feel more personal as opposed to something generic.

2. Speaking too much or too little in panels

Being an engaging panelist is a balancing act between having informed points to make while also giving other panelists the opportunity to speak. Not saying enough can make you seem unprepared, while not allowing anyone else to get a word in can come across as rude and abrasive.

Terri Trespicio, speaker and branding professional, says to “think of the panel as a potluck dinner. You’re not in charge of the whole dinner, but you also aren’t just showing up to eat. Everyone brings their own dish.” Preparing a few talking points allows you to add to the discussion where appropriate or respond to fellow panelists’ points as necessary.

3. imitating famous speakers

Looking to history’s great orators for inspiration can be an excellent way to learn about the art of public speaking. After all, people like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Winston Churchill were particularly adept at capturing crowds, sometimes for hours on end, using just their words.

The problem begins when inspiration turns to imitation. If an audience feels you are trying to imitate someone else, they are likely to become distracted and focus on how you are speaking rather than what you are saying. Furthermore, these much-lauded public speakers are so good because they have their own unique way of speaking. You will never develop your own public speaking voice if you are trying to imitate someone else’s.

4. being too entertaining

There’s nothing wrong with beginning a speech with a small joke, provided the context lends itself to it. In fact, a joke can be a good way to lighten the mood and relax the audience for the speech to come. However, a speech is not a stand-up comedy routine, and while jokes may be fun for both the speaker and the audience, they can detract from the speech itself. If you’re delivering a public address, the audience is likely there because they want to hear what you have to say on a topic. Including too many jokes only serves to take up valuable time that could otherwise be spent adding substance to the speech.

5. lack of understanding of the medium you are on

Just because a well-researched, well-delivered speech might work in an auditorium with a specific audience, that doesn’t necessarily mean that success will translate to other mediums, such as on a podcast.

Podcasts are excellent tools for discussing ideas and concepts, much like a formal speech, but, without the live audience, they tend to be much more conversational in tone. According to behavioral and marketing psychologist Dr. Elliott Jaffa, you should “have a conversation with your audience. Do not script them out; that’s not the way we talk nor how an audience listens. Tell a story.” Since you can’t see your audience, you must use your tone of voice to keep them interested. Keep it upbeat and try including interesting stories or anecdotes to back up and inform any larger ideas you might broach.

More public speaking advice can be found on the blog.

You may also like to read about how RADA Business helps with presentation and storytelling skills.