What are your best public speaking tips?

Posted on August 11, 2013

funny-celebrity-pictures-public-speaking-is-hard-enough-even-with-a-little-frog-in-your-throatThis is the third installment in an ELGL original content series titled “A Tale of Two Internships” by University of Kansas MPA graduate Ashley Graff.  Graff recently obtained a shared internship with the City of West Linn and the City of Sherwood.  In this series, Graff provides perspective on the experience of working for two communities and the similarities and differences she experiences in each.  In today’s installment, Ashley provides perspective – and asks for feedback – on the public presentations she has viewed during various trainings as part of her internships.


Within the last few months I attended two conferences and observed a number of speakers. While I spent most of my time listening pretty intently to content on a range of interesting topics, I also tried to note my own response to these presentations. I’m always intrigued to recognize when I’m enthralled (or not), and then try to figure out what makes a speaker engaging (or not). Since public speaking is a tough but critical skill that I am always working to improve, I jotted down a few notes. I decided to share them here to see if you all have anything to add. What are some of the best tips you can offer about effective public speaking?

Recently I listened to countless terrific lectures, along with a few less captivating, and I was reminded of these tips:

  • Start off by connecting your information to the audience. What will they want to know? What is the point for them? Capture audience attention right away with something relatable, and avoid unnecessary details.
  • Slow down and make sure to pause for effect. Don’t let sentences run together. Instead, let a moment of silence accentuate your important points.
  • Speak up. If you’re in the front of the room and the audience is looking at you, then speak as though what you have to say is important enough that everyone should hear it.
  • Organize the presentation. Introduce what the audience will learn, and then verbally mark sections of the presentation to bring order to your thoughts.
  • Don’t rely on PowerPoint. Know your material well enough that you can speak extemporaneously.

What would you add to this list? Please comment here!


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