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5 Tips for Public Speaking

November 13, 2012

Today’s post is courtesy of Kaitlyn Ethier, an account coordinator at Rhino Public Relations. Questions or comments? Contact her at, Twitter @rhinoPR_Kaitlyn or visit

Your hands are sweaty. Your stomach is queasy. Your heart is racing. You’re minutes away from public speaking – your worst nightmare. Keep this guide handy so when your next presentation is approaching, you’ll feel fully prepared and in control.

Here are 5 Tips for Public Speaking –

1. Set the Stage: Be familiar with the space in which you will be presenting, and if possible, visit the space for a dry run. Are there windows? How big is the space? What’s the lighting like? Finding out the answers to these questions will help to ease your nerves. It will also be easier to envision yourself speaking if you are familiar with the space.

2. Do your Homework: You must be prepared for your presentation. Make sure to do your research by considering the following in advance:

  • What’s the occasion?
  • Are you the only speaker or is it a panel?
  • How much time will you have to presentWho will be attending?  Ask if you can get a copy of the attendee list. It’s important to know your audience so you can tailor your presentation accordingly.

3. What to Include: Remember, you were asked to present because you are the expert on the subject matter, so present with authority. Be yourself and maintain eye contact with the audience. If you find yourself becoming nervous or moving around the podium, take a moment to breathe and regain your composure by taking a sip of water. You are not expected to speak without pause! Encourage audience participation by inserting questions or polls that help to foster open communication with the audience. Using examples, analogies, and metaphors also helps to tell a story – creating a connection with the audience and making your presentation more relatable.

4. Keep your audience in mind: It is important to be sensitive to the needs of your audience. Figure out what it is they would like to learn from your presentation, and capitalize on that information. Write down any questions or key points on an easel to ensure you answer all of the audience’s questions and address important topics. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes and think about what you would like to learn from the presentation as if you were sitting in the crowd. To make sure you are hitting on all of the key points, follow these three steps:

  1. Tell the audience what you’re going to talk about
  2. Talk about it
  3. Tell them what you just talked about

5. Accept feedback: Just because you are done presenting to a group of people doesn’t mean the work is over. Leave 15 minutes at the end for questions and answers, and allow time for audience members to fill out evaluations. Use these evaluations to help you prepare for your next public speaking presentation, and remember that public speaking is a skill that only gets easier with practice.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Karen E. permalink
    November 13, 2012 1:59 pm

    Nice post, Kaitlyn. It’s always worth a refresher, even for experienced speakers. The issue of nerves never quite goes away!

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