Mastering Public Speaking Learn Presentation Skills That Reduce Fear and Build Self Confidence



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Mastering Public Speaking

Learn Presentation Skills That Reduce Fear and Build Self Confidence


Learning effective presentation skills is the key to overcoming the fear and anxiety of public speaking and becoming a powerful, persuasive speaker. These tips will help.

Confident speaking is a hallmark of the successful professional. This how-to guide to public speaking and improving presentation and communications skills is designed for managers, business people, teachers, researchers, corporate executives, students, and anyone who must give professional presentations.

Effective public speaking begins the moment the presenter walks on stage or steps behind the podium or stands in front of a group. Body language and appropriate dress give the first impressions of a speaker to an audience. Being well groomed and using confident body language, with tall posture and eye contact, sends a message that the speaker is someone that the audience should listen to.

Prepare the Presentation in Advance


Impromptu speaking is fine for a person with extensive public speaking skills. However, for most people, preparation is necessary. Poor presentations are given while reading from notes or a teleprompter. Excellent presentations are given in such a manner that the audience is unaware if the speaker is using notes.

Therefore, it’s advisable to create an outline on small note cards. Make each note card a different color. Use blue for the introduction and thesis statement, yellow for facts and important instruction, pink for details and examples, and green for the closing. Number the note cards, so that if they drop, it will be an easy task to put them back in order.


Know the Audience


When preparing a speech, knowing who the audience will be is vital to keeping their interest. Knowing their level of expertise in the subject, as well as how formal or informal they will be, helps a speaker write material targeted to the audience.

Practice Public Speaking Five Minutes at a Time


Practice the presentation in small chunks of time. Pull out the note cards and practice just one section at a time. For example, practicing the introduction for a few minutes, several times a day, will embed that part of the public speech. This will develop confidence and smoothness in the speaker. If this rehearsal method is followed for the entire speech, the note cards will only be needed as a backup in the case of stage fright.

Audio Visual Aids and Handouts


The goal of a speaker is to keep the audience focused on the topic being spoken about at that moment. For this reason, handouts should never be given out in advance of the time they will be needed. If they are handed out too early, the audience will be distracted, reading the handouts, looking ahead, and perhaps even looking at their watches.

Likewise, audio and visual aids should be presented at the moment they will be needed in the presentation. If they are presented too early or too late, the audience will lose focus on the speaker. "Using Audio Visual Aids for a Presentation" explains this skill in more depth.


Keep the Audience Engaged With Transitions


Audiences stay engaged when they are actively involved in the presentation. Transitions can accomplish this, by requiring some sort of action or response from the audience. Transitions can be words or actions. Examples of simple transitions are:

  • Moving from one side of the stage to another. (The audience must follow the speaker with their eyes.

  • Having members of the audience turn to the person next to them and discuss something

  • Bringing out a visual aid

  • Switching a prop

  • Doing something unexpected, such as raising or lowering the tone of voice

  • Using humor. Humor should only be used when the speaker is comfortable with delivery

  • Having the audience members perform an action or small task

Respect the Audience


It’s so important for a speaker to respect an audience. Beginning and finishing the presentation on time shows respect for their busy schedules. Speaking to the audience’s level of expertise shows respect for their knowledge. Being well groomed and well mannered shows respect to their sensibilities.

Public speaking does not have to be a fearful proposition. In fact, well-prepared presenters often feel that it is enjoyable. These tips will help reduce fear, build confidence, and develop effective professional public speaking skills.



How to Write a Good Speech

A Three Step Outline for Creating a Powerful Message


Writing a speech can seem like a huge project, but it can be broken down into three simple steps. Use these tips on how to write a powerful speech.

Public speaking tips often tell the readers to know the audience, organize their thoughts and use an outline. Once a speaker knows who the speech will be directed at, and has decided what to say, this three-step outline will get those thoughts on paper and into a good speech.

This three-step guideline works for any kind of speech, short or long, whether it is an informative speech, a persuasive speech, a best man speech or other wedding speech, on practically any topic.

Write the Thesis, Introduction, or Speech Opening


Beginning with a welcome is important, especially if the speaker isn’t personally known by the audience. Welcoming the audience puts them at ease and allows them a moment to adjust to the speaker. This part of the speech should be about 10% of the full length.

After the welcome and introduction, a thesis should be written. The thesis is the speech opening, the place where the speaker will tell the audience what information is about to be conveyed. This doesn’t need to be long. It can be as short as one sentence or as long as three or four sentences. It should tell the core message the speaker wants the audience to remember.


Write the Body of a Speech


The body of the speech is where the presenter elaborates on the topic. The body should have a logical progression of facts and details. Placing a fact first, then following it with examples, details, anecdotes, and supporting evidence is the proper order. Once one fact has been thoroughly covered, another fact with its details can be introduced.

This succession of facts and details can be repeated as many times as necessary to complete the support of the thesis or topic. Add power to the speech by including facts in their order of importance. One technique is to save the most important fact for last. The body of the speech typically takes up about 75% of the speech.


Write the Conclusion, Ending, or Wrap-Up of a Speech


The conclusion is the place where the speaker gives the audience a recap of the points made during the speech. The speaker should tell the audience once again, what he or she just told them. Clarifying the points into a short, targeted summary will help the audience members keep those points in mind as they leave. It also helps note-takers and reporters to crystallize the content of the speech.

The conclusion may also be used to motivate the audience to action, to appeal to them for help, or give advice on the topic that was covered. Once the conclusion has been made, the speaker should thank the audience for listening.



The outline for the writing may be organized in this manner:

  • Thesis or Introduction (10% of total length)

  • Body (75% of total length)

    • First Fact

Details and supporting evidence, examples, anecdotes

    • Second Fact

Details and supporting evidence, examples, anecdotes

    • Third Fact

Details and supporting evidence, examples, anecdotes

  • Conclusion (15% of total length)

Using this three step outline for writing a speech will make the task easier and will keep the speaker focused. The audience will appreciate the clarity, because the organized thesis, body, and conclusion will drive the points home succinctly. Whether it’s a toast to a bride and groom or an acceptance speech to public office, this format will deliver a powerful speech.

Using Audio Visual Aids for a Presentation


These tips on presentation show how to use audio visual aids in public speaking as an effective way to engage the audience and illustrate key points.

“A picture speaks a thousand words,” states the aphorism. Visual presentation aids can be an essential part of giving speeches, and when used correctly, can drive home key points and enhance persuasive speaking.


Types of Audio and Visual Aids


Audio and visual aids can be as simple or as complex as the speaker desires. Simple aids include charts, graphs, and key points drawn on chart paper, handouts for the audience, clips of music or video, or props used by the presenter on stage.

Other audio visual aids include Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, Windows Movie Maker files, slideshows, mashups of video and music or speech, and training videos. Basic guidelines will help the presenter use these aids most effectively.


Psychological Impact of Color in Presentations


Light backgrounds with dark colors have the most impact, and give better visual acuity. This is especially important when making a presentation in a large auditorium. Black, blue, red, and green are the colors most visually appealing. They also give a psychological impact.

  • Black implies that the presenter is serious, knowledgeable, and professional. It is a no-frills choice for simple presentations.

  • Blue gives the impression of trustworthiness and being accessible. When trust is important, blue is the best choice.

  • Red is a power color. It infers the presenter is in charge and it can also be used as a motivational tool to spur listeners and viewers to action.

  • Green is the color of choice when dealing with earth-friendly topics. It is also the color of comfort, life, and money. Presentations about increasing sales often include shades of green.

Other colors should be used as accents and accessories to liven up the presentation.

Fill the Screen with Visuals


When preparing a visual presentation, ensure the screen will be large enough for the room or auditorium in which the speech will be held. Zooming in and enlarging photos and clip art to full screen size gives a big impact. It is also a way to focus on a particular feature the speaker wants to emphasize, such as a facial expression or a sales figure.

Sentences should be written as bullet points in large type.



  • Bullet points are easy to read.

  • Bullet points target the key ideas.

  • Bullet points are easier for the audience to remember.

Perfect Timing for Visuals


PowerPoint and other digital presentations allow the speaker to bring out key visuals exactly at the time they are needed. Showing the visuals too early is distracting to the audience. Effective speakers make a point, then use a wireless mouse to click on the picture or clip that illustrates the point. Using a wireless mouse ensures a smooth transition in the presentation. The visual is left on the screen until the next point is made.

Using Sound in a Presentation


It can annoy the audience to have silly or grating sounds as slideshow transitions. It can be distracting to have a different type of sound for each slide transition. Keeping the sound for transitions to a minimum keeps the audience focused on the points being made in the speech.

Audio clips should be kept short, utilizing the part that drives the message home. During audio clips, members of the audience may stop paying attention or engage in sidebar conversations. Keeping clips short and interspersing them throughout the presentation gives them more impact.



Public speeches are much more interesting when visual and audio aids are included. The speaker appeals to three levels of learning; auditory, visual, and verbal. Keeping these guidelines in mind when creating audio visual aids will make the presentation effective, powerful, and memorable.
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