Public Speaking


Delivering Your Speech

Don't Underestimate the Delivery

A great speech on paper is not a great speech unless it is delivered effectively. The number one thing that you can do to improve your delivery is to practice. Know your content. Know your transitions. Know your timing. Stand up and deliver your speech in the bathroom before you deliver it in the boardroom. Here are a few things to keep in mind for an effective delivery:

Eye Contact

Use it.  The audience connects with you through your eyes.  Avoiding eye contact can also be a red flag to the audience that you are not confident in what you are saying or that you are hiding something. Don’t focus your attention on one person, but instead spread your eye contact around to members of the audience. One technique you can try is: One Person, One Thought. The means that for each though in your speech make eye contact with one person. On the next thought, go to the next person.

Hand Gestures

Conference Speaker
Hand Gestures Can Be Effective

Using them can definitely be good, especially to emphasize a point, but you also don’t want to overdo it and distract the audience. If you are like most people and not sure what to do with your hands, the best rule of thumb is to limit your hand movement and don’t put them in your pockets.


Movement can represent confidence to the audience. Too much movement, however, is a sign of nervousness. Try to avoid pacing or rocking back and forth. If you are speaking behind a podium, one tip you might try is, at an appropriate time in your speech move to the side of the podium.  This shows the audience you are not “hiding” behind the podium. Finally, remember not to slouch. Standing straight projects confidence.

Facial Expressions

Don’t be afraid to use facial expressions.  If you know you are saying something funny, then smile.  If you are talking about something serious, show a look of empathy.  A stony face will make you seem aloof, while an expressive face can help you connect with the audience.

Vary Your Voice

How you say something can be just as important as what you are saying.  Pay attention to your tone and your speed. Don't talk to fast. No Yelling. And avoid the soft voice that can't be heard. Use your pace and tone to emphasize important ideas. And always remember to vary both. Monotone and monospeed are two common pitfalls you want to avoid.

Dress the Part

Certain speaking situations will call for more professional dress than others. Dressing well will often make you feel and look more confident, and may even add some credibility. The just-rolled-out-of-bed look is unlikely to impress your audience.

Get Plenty of Rest and Arrive on Time

Arrive on time and ready to go. Being tired can weaken your memory and lower your energy level. Try to get a good night's sleep before your speech. It will help you keep the energy level high when you are talking.

Take Your Time

Take your time and allow everyone to absorb what you are saying. A speech is not a race. Start slow and if you see that your audience wants you to speak a little faster, then, and only then, start to pick up the pace.

Pause for Important Ideas

Pauses are good. They let your audience think about your words. Try to pause after the most important points in your speech.

Find a Friendly Face

When you deliver your speech, look for a friendly face. This will give you encouragement throughout your speech. Don't stare at the person, but periodically look over for a little boost in confidence.


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