Ever been asked to make a public speech? Perhaps your best friend wants you to give a speech at his wedding. Or your boss wants you to present to the team. Just the thought of standing up in front of others can be daunting and may activate a fight or flight response. Rather than run for the hills, read on for our top seven tips and tricks for how to calm your nerves and deliver a great public speech.

  1. Preparation – Research, research, research. Make sure you know your topic inside out. Tailor your speech to your audience and try to prepare for any questions that might arise.
  2. Keep it Simple – Practice your speech by reading aloud, even recording yourself to analyse your delivery and body language. If you stumble over your words or struggle to take a breath, it may mean that your sentences are too long and over-complicated. Avoid technical jargon and keep your message clear and concise. Less is definitely more.
  3. Connect with your Audience – Start by grounding yourself in the moment, feet firmly placed on the floor. Breathe deeply into your diaphragm. Look up and out into the audience. Make eye contact, even if just with one person. This will help you to deliver your message more powerfully and effectively.
  4. Use the Power of Storytelling – Stories persuade. They arouse a reader’s energy and emotions. They’re how we make sense of the world, and they’re how we best remember. Make sure your speech includes stories that illustrate your message and keep the audience engaged.

    Persuade me

  5. Don’t Forget to Smile – All joking aside, humour can break the ice and help to relax an audience, making them more receptive to the message you’re trying to convey.


  6. Visualise – pictures can be a very effective way to enhance your speech. Powerpoint is your friend here, but heed marketing guru Seth Godin’s advice and don’t just use slides to repeat what you’re saying. Instead ‘create slides that demonstrate, with emotional proof, that what you’re saying is true not just accurate.’ For example, Godin suggests, if you’re making a speech about pollution, use an image of dead birds to powerfully underline your argument.
  7. Be Authentic – this is possibly the hardest tip to action but also the most important. Bringing your whole self to a speech – think Brene Brown’s vulnerability – can be key to communicating your message and resonating with your audience. Try Phil Stutz’s (see Jonah Hill’s Netflix documentary for more on Stutz and his ground-breaking ‘tools’) tool for cultivating what he calls Inner Authority to help bring your authentic self to the table.

    Jonah Hill and Phil Stutz


For more on the art of public speaking, why not try our Presentation Skills short course with Karen Glossop, our new Stoicism – becoming the best version of you short course, or our Effective Communication short course.


For more on our Business and Management short courses visit our home page HERE.


For all our short courses, visit our home page HERE.


Or come along to our Open Evening on March 28. It’s all online, so you can join from the comfort of your home. There are free tasters in Leadership and Management amongst others. Or you can simply speak to our Business Coordinator and Head of Short Courses, William Richardson, to see which course would be the best fit for you.


Open Evening 28 March

Attendance is free but you’ll need to register HERE.