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How do you speak naturally while all those people are watching you?

It’s normal to be nervous and have a lot of anxiety when speaking in public. In a way, it’s less normal not to have nerves or anxiety; in fact, to feel you have a phobia about public speaking.

Public Speaking Anxiety

Fight or flight

We can’t run away (well, we could, but we’d be out of job pretty quick if we did it too often), so our only option is to fight. But in terms of speaking in public, it can be hard to define just what we’re fighting.


Public Speaking Hints and Tips

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 are all right.
Recovering from mistakes makes you appear more human.
Good recovery puts your audience at ease – they identify with you more.


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.

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.

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.


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.
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.

When it comes to improving your public speaking skills we have three words:

practise, practise, practise!

Public Speaking Training

Other tips for mastering the art of public speaking

  1. Find your own unique voice. Say it like it is and how it comes naturally.
  2. Discover your style of presenting, whether that is standing up, sitting down, or moving about.
  3. Maintain eye contact with your audience, whether it is to 500 people in a room or a boardroom table.
  4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The best comedians have performed their acts hundreds of times in their heads as well as on stage.
  5. Match your public voice with your virtual voice so that there are no surprises when you turn up to speak.
  6. Perfect the art of the soundbite. A pithy one liner has more impact than going all round the houses with a meaningless analogy. If you hear something good, write it down as you might be able to recycle it later.
  7. Take a leaf out of the comedy book and listen. Listen to other speakers – check out both TED and The Moth for examples of good talks and storytelling.