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6 Public Speaking Tips from the Greatest

What do Winston Churchill, Billy Graham, and Steve Jobs have in common?

They were all great public speakers who made an impact on people on their respective fields – politics for Winston Churchill, religion for Billy Graham, and business for Steve Jobs. However, they didn’t always excel at public speaking. Winston Churchill dramatically failed his first speech at the House of Commons. Billy Graham was painfully shy in his youth. Steve Jobs was a well-known introvert who enjoyed spending time alone during his childhood. But they managed to overcome their failures and fear of public speaking to become the masters we know today, thanks to some well-kept secret tips.

Keeping them in mind will help you staying at the top of your game anytime!

The unifying spirit begins long before the shoot

According to a Forbes article entitled Why We Fear Public Speaking and How to Overcome It, the following statistics apply to public speaking:

Only 10 percent of the population enjoy speaking in public.

As for the 80 percent of the population who is in the middle, they can experience mild anxiety or sleep troubles, but they know they will get over it.

10 percent of the population are terrified of speaking in public and even suffer from physical reactions due to glossophobia : nausea, extreme anxiety, and panic attacks.

The physical symptoms accompanying the fear of public speaking are unpleasant and all have a similar cause: adrenalin. Intense stress or fear induce adrenaline rush. Sudden and out of control, it can trigger your hidden skills to boost your performance (e.g: athlete’s mindset) as well as paralyze your whole body.

Nevertheless, you can control the effects of adrenalin in public speaking with proper communication techniques. And the application of the proper formula will be your greatest ally.

The Communication Quality Formula

The late MIT professor named Patrick Winston measured the quality of communication according to the following formula:     

Quality of communication = f (K, P, T)

K = knowledge

P = practice

T = inner talent

This formula is obviously an excellent piece of news for all who think that inner talent is everything when it comes to public speaking. This could not be more wrong. Your message is the most important thing to convey when you make a public speech. Also, you must hone your speaking skills, which means that you must work! Consequently, talent does not do everything.

Now that we have seen what it takes to be a good public speaker, let’s examine the public speaking tips you must apply.


Public speaking tip #1: Set the tone of your speech with a clear message

“You are not being judged, the value of what you are bringing to the audience is being judged.”

– Seth Godin

TED Trustee Chris Anderson believes that the secret behind a successful public speech lies in conveying an idea which is worth sharing with the world. Your message is the foundation and the compass of your speech. By identifying who you’re addressing, what they expect and need to hear, you’ll be able to tailor a speech providing added value. Since you’ll embody your message, not only do you need to be a speaker, but you also must appear as a true visionary. Never forget this tip and you will have done 50% of your work behind the scenes.

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Public speaking tip #2: Note your speech down

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“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.”

– Dale Carnegie

Do you note random bullet points on a PowerPoint presentation the day before your speech? If this is your case, think again.

The best communicators take time to carefully craft their speech on a piece of paper. They write all their ideas and captivating sentences. By doing so, the structure of your speech will come easily.

For instance, Winston Churchill took six to eight hours to craft a 40-minute speech. He also revised his notes often to insert the witticisms that would become his brand. And the rest is history.

“Knowledge of a language is measured by the nice and exact appreciation of words. There is no more important element in the technique of rhetoric than the continual employment of the best possible word.”

– Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was said to have an extensive vocabulary, estimated to 65,000 words. This was due to his great appetite for bookish knowledge that he had cultivated since his youth.

You may not have Winston Churchill’s proficiency. However, you may choose the right words to convey the relevant message to your audience. And you don’t need to pick sophisticated words. The simpler your words are, the better.

All you will have to do is to choose compelling words who will have an impact on your audience. Then, you gather them to craft the best story of your life. And this leads us to the next public speaking tip…

Public speaking tip #3:
Choose the right words

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Public speaking tip #4: Master the art of storytelling

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“Picture yourself in a living room having a chat with your friends. You would be relaxed and comfortable talking to them, the same applies when public speaking.”

– Richard Branson

Have you noticed that the greatest public speakers always seem to captivate their audience, whatever they might say? You may think that it is the result of unusual charisma, bordering to witchcraft.

But don’t worry: you won’t need to be a charismatic guru to make an impact with your speech. Instead, you will just have to tell a story during your presentation. This will help your audience to remember your message more easily.

How can you master the art of storytelling? You can use the three tips described below.

The structure of your speech matters

First of all, take great care of the structure of your speech. Steve Jobs used the three-act structure, with a why-how-what format:

Why the audience should care

What action the audience needs to take

How the idea/product/service will improve their lives

Use appropriate pictures

Besides the structure of your speech, you can also use striking and/or funny pictures to strengthen your presentation. Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Pay attention to your speaking tone

The success of a storyteller also resides in his voice and his tone. Your tone should not be monotonous. Rather, a sense of musicality in your speech will be an asset. Whether you use pauses or changing tempos, think of your presentation as an allegretto.

“It’s what you practice in private that you will be rewarded for in public.”

– Tony Robbins

As we noted in the formula of the quality of communication, practice comes just after your knowledge. All the masters know that effortless public speeches are the results of daily private practice.

In other words, you will have to perform ungrateful work and many missed speeches to overcome your fears. Good news, our self-serve Rapidmooc studios allow you to practice whenever you want. By seeing your reflection in front of you, you’ll be able to manage your body language and find the best posture to speak out loud.

Public speaking tip #5:
Practice, practice, practice!

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Public speaking tip #6: Be authentic

“Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world”

– Oprah Winfrey

The most important thing is to be sincere and to be yourself. Telling your story makes you relatable and helps you to reach the core emotions of your audience.

Let’s talk about Malala Yousafzai. She is a Pakistani speaker and activist who fights for the education of young girls in her country. Her story itself was not unique as many other Pakistani girls encountered similar living conditions. However, when she conveyed her message, her audience found her inspiring, courageous, and touching. And her speeches even granted her the Peace Noble Prize!

Technology and innovative solutions meet performance and creativity needs. But it’s a matter of boosting people-centered communication rather than replacing it. The speaker must remain at the heart of any strong message.