In this blog post, I’ll give you my top 28 public speaking tips that every speaker needs to know – whether virtual or on-site. A lively speech that transforms an auditorium from disinterested listeners to eager-to-buy viewers is the key to winning your customers’ hearts.
Here you’ll learn,
- How to skillfully build the structure of your speech,
- how important your personality, voice and posture are,
- how to prepare professionally and
- which no-go’s you should avoid at all costs when speaking in front of people.
6 basic tips about the style and structure of public speaking
1. A great start into your speech
The start is as important as the famous first impression. There is no second chance for a first impression. It’s similar with the start of your speech. If the start is bumpy or even unsuccessful, the following presentation can be marvelous… you might have lost a part of your audience already at the beginning.
Start with a bang. With an explosive statement that creates a moment of surprise. Make sure your audience gives you their full attention. An equally terrific beginning can be to start with a pause. Just stand there, in silence. Give your presence, your personality time and space to work on the audience. Keep eye contact, be quiet and watch their reactions. This will guarantee you 100% attention from your audience.
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2. Create a red thread
A good speech requires good preparation. My tip here: Do not randomly string together facts, data and stories. Avoid confusing the audience. Create a thread that is visible to the participants throughout the entire presentation. Think about a coherent storyline, choose the right timing and build up an arc of tension. A great speech can be compared to telling a great story. You have an introduction, arouse interest, arouse curiosity, come to the climax of your story and only then do you end in a grandiose finish.
It is important that the listener can follow you while you are speaking in public and that it seems coherent and makes sense to them. Always keep in mind the goal you want to achieve with your words.
3. Get to the point
“If it was short, it definitely wasn’t all bad” was one of the first public speaking tips I ever got. In other words, better short and not quite sparkling than long and dull. Avoid being long-winded and stringing sentences together. Say it in their words and get to the point quickly. Every speech takes away something from your lifetime. You don’t have to start with Adam and Eve. Most participants will already have dealt with the topic. My personal tip: Keep it simple. For complex topics, try to avoid superfluous sidebars. The most powerful speakers are those that have the skills to make complex topics appear simple. Remember, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.
4. Include repetitions
“Yes, we can!” over and over again was the guiding principle that made Barack Obama the U.S. president in 2008. Repetition, strategically built in ties directly to what was previously written. The attention span for most participants is short. Cleverly used repetitions in your speech reinforce what you are saying.
What comes to play here is my years of experience in sales: it is better to repeat your core statements once more than to overwhelm your audience with too many new facts. This also increases the retention of your content. You want to make sure to be packaging your content into different words and examples, so that you are not talking like the parrot from the last pirate movie. Depending on the length of your speech, you can repeat your core message two or three times.
5. Storytelling breathes life into your presentation
People love stories. And so will the participants during your speech. Stories captivate, stories convince. If you include a personal story in public speaking, you will achieve exactly this desired effect. The participants listen attentively to your personal story. They experience it. This makes you both authentic and likeable. You want to make sure that your story really adds up as your audience can tell if you are giving them some fairy tale.
6. Arouse emotions
People won’t remember exactly what you say. They will, however, always remember what emotion you make them feel. Emotions are the bridge to winning your audience over. Create magic moments during your talk. Connect with your audience and trigger emotions in them. People want to feel, to share emotions. If you can create emotions and the energy in the room is almost tangible, your speech will be an unforgettable experience for your audience.
7 essential tips for perfect preparation, guaranteed to shine with your audience
The public speaking tips in this section should give speakers a structure that is simple and has been proven many times over. They will not only give you the skills of giving really powerful speeches but will calm your nerves and improve the relationship with every person in the room instead.
7. Know your outcome
If you don’t know what you want to achieve with your speech, any further tip is pointless. First, you need to know your goal and keep it in mind. In the run-up to planning your talk, as well as on stage during the speech. Your key messages, the topic and your content in the presentation must reflect your goal. Your goal must be recognizable to your audience and not just float as a diffuse vision in the fog of the speech.
8. Know your audience
One of the most important public speaking tips for any speaker is to know the audience you will be giving your talk to. What is their motivation for attending the speech? What do they expect from your presentation? What is the emotional “involvement” of your audience? Above all: why are the people here today? Are the attendees here to hear more about your message or is your public speaking part of a larger event, for example?
Another essential public speaking tip is that the more you know your audience, the better you can tailor your speeches to them. Try putting yourself in their shoes. The following questions should really help you get to know your audience better:
- What age group is your audience in?
- What professional backgrounds do people come from?
- Is the audience more female, male or perhaps mixed?
- What does my audience have in common and what makes them different?
- What does my audience do before and after my speech?
9. The perfect preparation – Start with the end in mind
Now that you know your goal and your audience, be aware of the key points of your presentation. It is also important to know the duration of your talk. Once you know this, start planning the structure of your speech from the back: where do you want to go? What do you want your audience to remember? What actions do you want your audience to take after your speeches? Always start with the end when you prepare your talk.
10. The ideal introduction
Now that you know where you’re going, clarify the starting point. Here are some public speaking tips on how to grab attention and interest right at the beginning:
- Start with a question
- Tell a story
- Start with something curious
- Start with an interesting quote
- And one more daring public speaking tip: Don’t say anything at first.
11. Facts, Figures, Dates & Stories, Stories, Stories
Numbers, facts and figures give you credibility, while stories bring life to your talks. Think about embeding numbers in stories when presenting or to underpin your facts and figures with a good story to make them emotionally tangible for the audience. To improve sales by X amount is just a flat number but the hint that, for example, the increase in sales will be used to launch a health program for the company, that’s what moves people’s minds and hearts.
12. Practice, practice, practice
One of the best public speaking tips to calm your nerves and against stage fright is: practice, practice, practice. The content has to sit. You should master your speech in your sleep. You will become more confident each time you practice your speech and will be able to eliminate any mistakes that occur. In the beginning, take every opportunity to practice your speech in public skills in front of real people. You’ll become better very quickly.
13. The best tips to eliminate fear before speaking in public
Whether your stomach is taking a last minute deep dive before your speech or you are a little bit nervous while anxiety is creeping in or you’re waiting in anticipation to take the stage, one thing is always true: you need to prepare yourself and get yourself in the ideal state. Take a deep breath, relax, gather yourself and remind yourself of your goal just beforehand. Send positive emotions to your audience. The better your preparation, the less nervous and the more confident you will be. Connect emotionally with the people who are looking expectantly at the stage. Visualize an excellent ending and put your body in a position as if you have already fully excited your audience. And remember one more thing to think about: you are not going to speak to 500 people at once, you will speak to one person 500 times… that shift of your mindset will make it a lot easier to deal with your anxiety and will make you a more powerful communicator.
The 5 best public speaking tips to win the hearts of your audience during your presentation
It is also important to keep the connection with your audience during your talks. The goal must be to engage your audience, take them on a journey and create an appreciative, active interaction. Speakers are responsible for the energy in the room. While you are on stage you need to own the space.
14. Be self-confident and know your added value
Always stay with yourself and be aware of your value! You are the message! There is a reason why exactly you are talking on stage and not anyone else. You pursue a goal with your speeches, you want to trigger something in your audience. In the best case a problem is solved by you, by your talks. That is priceless.
15. The energy of eye contact
The audience is not a homogenous mass. There are individuals sitting there, eager to hear what you are going to say. Don’t avoid their gaze, but rather make eye contact. This not only shows self-confidence, but also makes the individual feel noticed when you make eye contact. Don’t underestimate the power of eye contact.
16. An interesting voice
A presentation is naturally also enlivened by an interesting voice. Insecurity is not only noticeable by a hunched posture. Your audience will also notice insecurity by an insecure voice. A targeted voice training with effective exercises helps here quickly. Your voice is not only an important part of your personality, but also the tool of your trade during a presentation. When your voice comes across as full and confident, it not only influences your timing, but can also lend linguistic liveliness through emotion.
17. Strong body language
Your body language is perhaps the most underrated contribution of your presentation. Dynamic body language with full body tension and energy carries you away and automatically makes your voice more dynamic and puts your audience in a better state. This way, your audience can easily follow you better. If you want to know more about body language and what a 3-time dance world champion taught me about non-verbal communication, just click on the link.
18. How important is a good PowerPoint presentation
One of my most important public speaking tips: Don’t get bogged down in perfection. The same goes when you’re tinkering with the design for your slides for a PowerPoint presentation. A good solid PowerPoint slide that briefly and concisely presents the most important data is perfectly sufficient for your presentation. It is also important to remember that less is more. Let more pictures speak than words and if you need help, you can always call in virtual assistants to help you create a slide.
3 important tips to not be forgotten after speaking in front of an audience
After speaking in front of an audience, put the icing on the cake with a targeted follow-up and deepen your relationship as a speaker with your audience.
19. Supplement with a crisp handout
Give your audience a printed or virtual handout where they can review key information. This leaves speakers with a professional impression. In addition, the participants will then also be presented with your contact details at a glance and will not have to search for them for a long time. With the virtual version, you even have the option of collecting the contact details of your participants, who you can then contact in turn via your newsletter.
20. Get feedback
We grow best through constructive feedback. Try asking a few people whose opinion is important to you in advance if they can let you know their thoughts afterwards. Or, if your presentation went very well, you might want to ask them for a written testimonial. It’s always nice for you to have positive feedback to fall back on in the future. This not only boosts your self-confidence, but also looks good on the homepage.
21. Systematic follow-up with your client
Maintain your contacts after the presentation. You may also have the opportunity to offer and sell additional products or books (if you have written any) through email marketing. The people who attended your presentation are potential leads. You could make more of them and secure your future business.
4 No-Go’s you must absolutely avoid when presenting.
In this section, I’m going to cover the questions about the most common public speaking mistakes speakers make. Therefore, it is important to read through these points especially well and make sure to take notes.
22. Exclusive I-fixation
Of course, you are the lord and master of your stage. This means that you are responsible for what happens in the room. At the same time, your presentation will only be remembered positively if your audience feels that they are also an important part of your presentation. An American proverb says “people don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.” If you take this phrase to heart, stop focusing too much on yourself and care about the needs of your audience instead.
23. Turning your back on the audience
This is a public speaking mistake that is often made when tools like flipcharts, good old overhead transparencies or a PowerPoint presentation are involved. You should know what you are showing your audience and not have to read page after page off the wall or flipchart. The T-T-T principle applies here: Touch – Turn – Talk. First, just point to what you want to show, then turn to the audience and talk afterwards. It’s as simple as that and gives you a great tool to hang on to even when you are nervous.
24. Without own content and stories
Copy and paste is an absolute no-go in a presentation. You should never copy speeches delivered by brilliant speakers one-to-one. You don’t breathe life into them. A copied presentation can only ever be a poor rip-off of a great speech. It is best if you include your own content and stories. If you can’t do that at all, then please do some research to find good stories on your topics. When it’s all said and done, it’s often the stories that make your presentation memorable to the audience.
25. No or the wrong preparation
For a presentation to be successful, it is not enough to glance over the script 10 minutes before walking on stage. We probably know people who just stand in front of a group and start presenting. While it is quite positive not to be shy when speaking in front of people, this is usually not enough. A presentation must be meticulously prepared, it must get into your blood, only then can it be perfect.
The wrong preparation can also be disastrous. The preparation is wrong, among other things, if you are not aware in advance of the audience in front of which you will stand. For example, if you are going to give a talk about the Beatles, it makes a big difference whether you are speaking in front of people who actively experienced the Beatles or in front of a group of teenagers who may not even know who the Beatles are. You can find out how to prepare properly a little further up in the 7 essential tips for perfect preparation.
Bonus: the 3 best virtual public speaking tips
Much of what you’ve read so far can also be applied to your virtual speeches. Here you’ll learn what leads to success in the online world as well. If you’re holding a webinar, you’ll learn even more in this article.
26. Speak into the camera
Unlike a live event, there are no people in front of the stage during a virtual appearance. This means that the speaker must focus on the camera and also speak toward it. The camera lens is the direct path to your audience. I have summarized the most important tips for speaking successfully to the camera in this article.
27. Illustrate your speech with PowerPoint and Co.
Virtually, you can use slides to better present your topic visually, just as you would in a presence speech in front of an audience. Mark all relevant points of your presentation on the slides as bullet points for better understanding and add graphics and images. Afterwards you can use parts of the PowerPoint for a downloadable handout.
28. Proper equipment
For a virtual lecture it helps a lot if you have professional equipment at hand. It is definitely worth investing in a good camera and a good microphone. Especially for digital and hybrid events, I have created an equipment checklist that will answer many questions regarding technology. Your audience will thank you when they have a virtual experience that has little background noise and good image quality. In the end, good accessories often make exactly the difference between professionalism and semi-professionalism.
How to make your next presentation a guaranteed success
The right preparation is half the battle. Coupled with a dazzling stage presence, nothing can go wrong.
When is your next presentation planned? Which public speaking tips did you find most valuable? I look forward to your feedback in the comments.