Most people are petrified at the thought of public speaking. Yet we speak before an audience every day when we communicate with friends, family and coworkers. Whether you speak to one person or 100 people, some of the same skills are involved. Being able to communicate well is a critical skill for professional success, no matter what your line of work.

Be prepared. Speaking on a topic that interests you makes it easier to be comfortable with the material.

Practice your speech out loud. Practice with any visual aids that you will be using, such as charts or a laptop. Speak slowly and clearly, carefully enunciating each word.

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Become familiar with the room you will be speaking in. Stand at the podium and use the microphone.

Stand by the room doorway and greet people as they arrive. Start a conversation with some of the audience members so you have “someone” to speak to.

Picture how you will look as you give your speech. Think of yourself as a strong and confident presenter. Imagine the audience hanging on your every word.

Accept that the audience is your friend and they want you to be successful. They are not spending their time and/or money hoping to see someone fail.

Avoid filler words by taking the time, instead, to pause and to breathe. Give the audience a chance to absorb what you have just said. Plus the pause allows you to think about what you will be saying next.

Concentrate on what you are saying. You know your material and are enthusiastic about the topic. Show that in your demeanor.

Start your speech by simply relaxing. Smile, slowly count to three, greet your audience and then begin.

Watch your audience. Learn how to read faces. Are they nodding their head in agreement and comprehension of what you just spoke about or do they look puzzled?

Give more speeches. Experience will help improve your speaking skills.


If you can, videotape yourself. Watch it back later and make note of what you did well and which parts need improvement.

About the Author

Diane Stevens' professional experience started in 1970 with a computer programming position. Beginning in 1985, running her own business gave her extensive experience in personal and business finance. Her writing appears on Orbitz's Travel Blog and other websites. Stevens holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from the State University of New York at Albany.