18 Powerful Public Speaking Tips For Absolute Beginners!

18 Powerful Public Speaking Tips For Absolute Beginners!

According to Brian Tracey, the world’s leading marketing, sales and personal development expert: the average person fears public speaking more than death itself!

Yet being able to effectively communicate your ideas to key decision makers, teammates, potential customers and investors is arguable one of the most important, skills you need for building a successful career in business.

Great public speaking is a critical success factor in:

  • Pitching new business ideas
  • Organizational Culture Change
  • Effective Management and Team Leadership
  • Giving Online Presentations and Talks
  • Creating highly effective multimedia, Digital Marketing, Social Media and eLearning Resources

What’s the good news for beginners when it comes to become great public speakers? Well it turns out that public speaking actually boils down to a learnable set of skills.

Most people improve rapidly within just hours of actually getting started. The best way to accelerate this learning process is to study and practice the most effective yet simple public speaking tips, tricks and strategies.

So where do you start?

Here are 18 powerful public speaking tips, tricks and strategies that will help you quickly become a highly effective speaker people will really love to watch, listen and learn from!  


1. Act In-Spite of Yourself - Just Do It!

What’s the number one most important tip for becoming an amazing public speaker? At first, you simply need to act in-spite of feeling nervous or afraid. The more you get out there and just do it!

The more quickly you learn to control your emotions and get into a state of flow and connection with your audience. You may make mistakes at first, but those are incredibly value learning experiences that are only going to make you stronger and more confident. 


2. Always Build On Your Strengths

Audiences give more attention to a speaker who genuinely engaged and personally invested in their dialog and their personal presentation; it’s incredibly energizing and inspiring!

Playing to your strengths means you need to have a heart to heart with yourself about your speaking and your presenting styles. In other words, don’t try to have a solemn lecture if you’re itching to crack a joke, or if you’re definitely not the standup comedian type, you might want to find other ways to add humor and to capture peoples’ attention.

Let’s take strengths just one step further here. You need to capitalize on your content expertise. Whether you’re new to public speaking or a seasoned veteran, it’s really important to stick to topics you know very well. If you know a lot about something, your audience can tell. If you know very little about something, your audience will also be able to tell.

It’s also important to share what you’re genuinely passionate about, because your passion is contagious. Always do those little extra bits of research to find and share the most inspiring stories facts and data. If an insight or story you find really wows you, it’s going to really wow your audience as well.

And while we’re on the topic of audiences, make sure to always be presenting to an audience who will truly benefit from your expertise. You don’t want to do a presentation of selling used cars if you’re an enterprise gamification expert!

Yet even when you have the most likeminded audience your primary focus must always be on continuously improving the delivery and effectiveness of your message.


3. Practice with People You Know and Feel Comfortable With (Including Yourself in The Mirror!)

Can you imagine being invited to give a major talk, pitch or business presentation at a major tradeshow or conference? As an absolute beginner, stepping out in front of a huge audience of people you don’t know can be overwhelming. Rather, start by giving short practice presentations in front of coworkers, friends, and even family members; - people you really feel comfortable with.

If you have someone in your network who’s a great public speaker, invite them to your practice presentations and ask for tips, suggestions and corrective feedback. Another great tip is to practice in front of a mirror.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you public speaking skills and emotional comfort levels grow within just your first few hours of dedicated practice. And what’s really great is all of this learning will transfer so easily from your high comfort speaking environment to the real presenter’s stage.


4. Record yourself to Train your Voice and Body Language

 After you’ve got your speech written, it’s time to work on delivery. A lot of people hate hearing their own voice, but if you’re going to talk to an audience you ought to have a plan of action.

Take the time to record your voice and your body language using whatever tools you have. Audio and video quality doesn’t matter as much at this point. Using your smartphone with a simple tripod can really do the trick. From there you can take notes on how you look and sound and make needed changes and improvements.

Scan your video to watch for excessive arm movement or hair flipping. It’s also highly recommended that you:


5. Carefully Study and Emulate Your Favorite Public Speaker(s)

One really effective strategy is to spend some time watching expert presentations and choosing amazing speakers whom you really connect with. TedTalks are a great place to start.

  • Once you’ve identified a truly awesome speaker, really watch and listen to them. Ask yourself:
  • What’s the tone of their voice?
  • How do they convey positive emotions?
  • Are they friendly and conversational?
  • Do they use lots of big words? What about their body language? How do they stand?
  • How do they use their hands, physical positioning, and body language in general to emphasize their points?

Revisit step 4 and record yourself practicing and emulating your favorite public speaker.    


6. Become a Serious Armchair Public Speaking and Body Language Expert

When it comes to becoming a truly amazing public speaker, knowledge really is power. Put time aside each day to read, watch, listen to and learn from the world’s leading public speaking and body language experts.

It’s great that you’ve started with this blog post! But I strongly recommend that once you’ve finished reading and sharing this post, you scroll down to the clickable “references” I put together to write this article.

I’ve linked to some of this year’s most highly read and shared public speaking articles and infographics! If you have the budget, it’s also well worth investing in working with an expert public speaking coach. Taking a great public speaking course is also a great investment.

7. Work on Ditching The Notes

You really need to prioritize becoming less and less dependent on notes or written speeches. 

 As you start to really pay attention to the top public speakers, you’ll notice that they use notes sparingly if at all. Rather they use their presentation materials (i.e. Powtoon Slides or Prezi’s or PowerPoints) as cues to spark and informally structure a friendly and upbeat conversational tone and flow.


8. Have Plans for the Unexpected

No matter how well you have things planned, problems can arise. Take a moment to list your worst “unexpected things” fears. Afterward, write out a quick action plan for what you’d do in case any of these situations actually happen.

Few issues will cause audience unhappiness and disengagement more than a speaker who loses their cool or technical control in the middle of a speech or presentation, - especially if the projector fails or the laptop freezes.


9. Do Pre-Event Promotion

 What’s the best way to find an audience willing to be engaged? Promote yourself and what you’ll be speaking about! Invite coworkers, family members email contacts, and social media followers weeks if not months in advance of your presentation. Let them know when you’ll be presenting and where along with a short but clear description of the unique benefits they’ll get if they attend.

It’s always best to send individualized invitations tailored to the interests of each potential attendee. But it’s also important to share frequent and increasing reminders via social media, especially in the days just before you present.

Not just that, but the people hosting your presentation will be grateful. The more people that promote the event, the larger the reach. Put yourself out there for interviews, write a blog post, tweet about it, or create your own event hashtag. Any of these will help you and your hosts get the event or presentation noticed.



10. Add Social Sites to your Actual Presentation – Especially Twitter!

 Whatever presentation tech you’re using, whether it’s PowerPoint or Prezi - put something like a Twitter handle at the bottom of every slide. Of course, keep it small enough so that it doesn’t detract from your information, but big enough that people can see it.

Bonus Tip: I strongly recommend Slidebean as an incredibly powerful yet extremely simple to use alternative to PowerPoint. They've got amazing ready to populate templates. You can add your own images and video content as well. And they've got great animated data visualization tools that you just plug-in your own number to bring those numbers alive.

Twitter is arguably your most effective platform for real-time events promotion and personal and business branding.

At the start of your speech, point it out and give a #hashtag that people can live-tweet to during the event. A lot of people will be checking their phones regardless of how engaging your presentation. Integrating a live #TwitterChat is a great way to take advantage of that.

You can offer affordable prizes and rewards to the people who engage the most and spread the word on Twitter best during your presentation. For example, offer gift certificates for a specialty coffee or other items you know people will love, for sharing video tweeting, and RTing your content via your custom #hashtag.

 First, it spreads the word about your event. Second, it spread the word about you. Third, it fosters conversation surrounding your talk and also works to provide you live feedback at the same time. You can even respond to people after the event and clarify any questions or thank them for comments.


11. Establish a Pre-Speaking Routine

 Having a rabbit’s foot won’t change your performance on stage (let alone anything else). What will make a critical positive difference is developing and implementing a pre-routine for your talks and presentations. That means:

  • Sound checks,
  • Mic checks,
  • Projector checks.
  • Making sure your chair is set up
  • Going over your speech,
  • Becoming familiar with the venue, and
  • Making sure you have drinking water (warm or room temperature is actually best) .
  • Looking over your public speaking behavior development goals
  • Exercising and deep breathing


Not only will each individual task help ensure a smooth presentation, but so will the sensation of going through a routine. Routines are very grounding and give you a newfound sense of confidence and control.


12. Exercise and Breath before Your Speech

 There are two huge reasons for doing a little bit of light exercise before you go up on stage and speak. Why? Because it gets your blood circulating. This brings oxygen to the brain, allowing you to think clearer. Doing some simple relaxation breathing exercises is also a great idea.

Light exercise is wonderful because it burns the cortisol out of your system. Cortisol, a major stress chemical is made by your body when you’re anxious and stressed. It impedes your creative and process-related thinking. It can also tighten your voice and interfere with your ability to conveying positive body language. And as you know: all these things are critical to audience engagement.


 13. Thank Your Audience When You’re Done!

 You did it! You gave a great speech. The audience is clapping. They’re happy with your performance. You wowed your story and your content. You solved some of their most immediate business problems and pain points. Do you just walk off stage without saying a thing?

No. You turn around and you thank them. You thank them for expressing their appreciation for your speech. You thank them for listening intently. You thank them for coming. It’s important to remember that, though you are the presenter, you would not be getting this applause (or maybe even this venue!) if they weren’t there for you. let your audience know how to:

  • Contact you, and,
  • Let them know they can call you,
  • Email you or,
  • Connect with you on social media with any questions that may develop during or after the event.


14. Analyze Your Performance For Next Time

 Now that you’re finished with your speech it’s time to really go over the content and the style of your presentation again. It’s time to analyze your performance! Take this time to think back on what you said, how you said it, and how you might improve.

Ask people you know and who attended, for honest feedback on your public speaking skills. For example, ask them to rate your presentation on a scale of 1-10. If you score a 6 or 7 in their view, ask clear and behaviorally descriptive things you can start doing, stop doing, or improve to bring you’re your score up to an 8-9 level.

Ideally, you’ve recorded your presentation too so that you can really assess your performance based on growing armchair expertise in public speaking. Always remember to take note of and build on the things you did well! If you only look back on the negatives, you’ll forget the positives and that can’t help you or your future audience.

Jot down the changes and improvements you’re going to make in your presentation style, and review these notes as part of your pre-presentation routine before your next public speaking engagement.

Now let’s explore some of the most valuable tips and strategies for actually delivering your next speech. For example:

You’re going to need to know proven and specific public speaking strategies for keeping people deeply-engaged through your presentation. For starters:


15. Don’t Talk Right Away

 Have you ever noticed how the best speakers often take a few seconds of silence to set the tone for their talk? I have.

If you start talking right away, it’s likely you’ll talk too fast or trip over some words. It’s good to take a deep breath at the beginning and take a moment to become comfortable in your surroundings. Don’t worry about pausing for too long before saying anything, your audience will definitely wait.

When the right moment arrives to start your speech, you’ll know it and your audience will start really tuning in. That’s when it’s time to make your critical first impression, by sharing a carefully crafted story or asking one or two deeply thought-provoking questions that you know your audience can’t wait to hear the answers to.


16. Never Start with An Apology!

 One of the best ways to actively disengage your audience is to go up on stage and instantly give an excuse. “Hey, I’m new” is an excuse. Unless of course it’s followed up by “and so it’s really exciting for me to be here because….” Again, It’s much better to start with an attention-grabbing story or question though.

Don’t apologize for speaking too slow or too fast, having a stutter, being terrible at jokes. You prepared your speech, you created your presentation, and it is your job to own and to really share it.

Inviting your audience into a shared state of flow, through sharing the latest industry-leading stats, business stories, and anecdotes guarantees people will listen and really connect with you. But if you start making excuses at the slightest error, you’ll sound unprepared and people will wonder why you’re even on stage in the first place.


17. Show up to Give, Rather than Take

 The idea that an audience can tell or sense “what’s really going on” is true in most situations. They can tell when you’re nervous, they can tell when you’re bluffing, and they can most definitely tell when you’re only there to sell them something.

Why would they trust and therefore pay attention to you if you’re not there with a genuine heartfelt passion to create real and immediate value in their lives?

If you want to seriously capture audience-attention and sustain their deepest engagement levels: show up to give. Show up and give them true added value.

Give your audience your very best advice tips and strategies as free gifts. Treat them like top-paying customers and raging fans and that's just what they'll become! 

Without true added value (the what’s in it for me?), nobody really wants to listen. If they can get more value looking at funny pet pictures on their smartphones, then you’re not doing your job as a highly effective public speaker. And they will look at funny pet pictures for your entire presentation.

18. Choose to Turn Your Nervous Energy into Contagious Excitement!

 Have you ever been so nervous that you freeze? It’s possible, and it’s happened to many people. It’s important to get your nervousness “under control” before that happens.

What’s the best way to do this? Flip your fear into excitement by changing your thinking! The audience wants to see you riled up in a positive way anyhow. They want to see you energetic.

So just decide that this reaction you’re feeling is not actually nervousness. No, you ARE excited! You’re so excited that you get to do this, you’re excited to spread your message, and you’re excited that you get to share it with this particular audience! And they’re going to love your presentation because you genuinely do!

It’s actually surprisingly simple because nervousness is a kind of adrenaline, as is excitement. They use the same fuel; you just have to mentally re-label your feelings in a positive way.

Have you ever seen an amazing business or marketing presentation? Haven’t you noticed that even the world’s most amazing public speakers often start out with a couple of seconds of seeming nervousness? That’s the key decision moment for to fear into inspiration and really connect with your audience!

With a simple change in how you think about the situation, you can actually turn beginner’s public speaking anxiety into highly contagious positive emotions that will keep your audience wide-eyed and hungry for more, right from start to finish! That way, they’ll never forget you, the value you created in their lives, or the stories you shared with them!

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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