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17 Public Speaking Tips to Captivate Your Audience

POSTED ON Nov 22, 2023

Chad Aleo

Written by Chad Aleo

Home > Blog > Business > 17 Public Speaking Tips to Captivate Your Audience

Looking for the best public speaking tips? You’ve come to the right place! I’ve spoken on countless stages, and I’m here to help you level up your own speaking career. 

Whether you are looking for a little extra side cash, want to promote your business or new book, or want to land a TED Talk, picking up a few public speaking tips can go a long way toward your success.

So let’s get started!


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17 public speaking tips to help you own the stage

Here are my favorite public speaking tips to help you excel during your next speaking engagement:

1. Study famous speeches

One of the most important tips for public speaking is to watch the speakers who came before you. Learning from exceptional speakers is one of the best ways to improve your own skills. 

Take note of pacing, body language, and how they interact with their audience. There are SO many important public speaking tips you can pick up just from watching a few videos.  

Watching some TED Talks can be a great place to start!

2. Understand your audience

How educated is your audience on the topic you’re about to discuss? What is this specific audience looking for? Why are they there? 

You don’t want to bore or overwhelm your listeners. One of the best tips for public speaking is to edit and tailor your speech to suit each audience you speak for. 

3. Relax 

Most people experience some nerves before hitting the stage, but you don’t want it to affect your speech or your body language. Relax your muscles and practice proper posture. Avoid crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets – this can make you look unprofessional or closed off.

If you’re really feeling the nerves, you can mention it to your audience. This will make them feel less nervous for you and help you to connect with them instantly. They’ll be rooting you on!

4. Practice your pacing

Many people start to speak faster on the stage, either from nerves or excitement. Be aware of this, and focus on keeping a steady pace. 

One of my favorite public speaking tips is this: take 10 slow, deep breaths before you step out on stage. This will help with your breath control and force you to slow down and take a pause. 

Once you are on the stage, keep pausing! I don’t mean stuttering and searching for words, I mean purposeful pauses to let important points sink in. This keeps the audience’s attention and gives you a moment to gather your thoughts. 

5. Look at your audience

One of the most important public speaking tips I can give you is to look at your audience. For the love of all that is good, DON’T stare at your notes for long periods of time. In fact, I don’t recommend using much in the way of notes at all – but more on that later. 

If you stare at the ground, your hands, or your notes you lose the attention of your audience. If you want to truly engage them, you should make eye contact with individual people in your audience as if you were having a personal conversation with them. 

6. Use a visual aid

A PowerPoint presentation or other visual aid can help to keep your audience better engaged. But you want your visual aid to support your speech, not detract from it. 

Avoid being too text-heavy. Instead, use graphs, charts, and images to back up your points. If you do use text, make sure it’s easy to read – and stick to bullet points instead of paragraphs. 

7. Make hand gestures thoughtful

Some of us talk with our hands, and we aren’t even aware of it. Unfortunately, if you use your hands too much it can be distracting. To give a successful speech, you should use your hands to emphasize your points, but you shouldn’t be flailing wildly. 

Pay attention to what your hands are doing when you speak and slow down their movements. 

8. Repeat yourself for emphasis

When people are watching you speak live, they don’t have the luxury of rewinding to catch important points. So if you have a point you really want to drive home during your speech, I recommend repeating that take-home message a few times for emphasis. 

This way, you can make sure the important pieces really sink in. Just make sure what you are repeating is short and to the point. Think catchy one-liners like “I have a dream” or “Yes we can.” 

9. Plan out your speech

I can give you all the public speaking tips in the world, but if you don’t actually plan your speech, it’s not going to go smoothly 100% of the time. How you say the words is important, but you also have to know what to say. 

Make sure there is a logical flow to your speech so that you aren’t rambling or going off track. Keep circling back to your main message in between giving supporting evidence, examples, and anecdotes. 

10. PRACTICE

One of the most important public speaking tips I can give you is simply to practice. And I don’t mean once or twice. I mean again and again and AGAIN. 

By practicing, your speech will start to become second nature, and you will pick up a natural flow. You will be more confident in your speech, and it will show when you step on the stage. 

11. Record your speeches

Sometimes we aren’t aware of what we are doing (remember the hand movements?). That’s why recording yourself speaking is one of the public speaking tips you shouldn’t ignore. 

Watching yourself back on film can help you to examine how your voice sounds, what your body language is like, and if you are doing anything strange with your pacing. 

12. Ask for feedback 

Sometimes, we need a few extra pairs of eyes to perfect our speech. After all, you are trying to wow an audience – not yourself. Ask friends, family members, coworkers, etc. to listen to your speech and give feedback.

For one, this will be great practice. In addition, you can find out if any sections of your speech are boring, confusing, or clunky. 

13. Don’t memorize word-for-word

If you try to memorize your speech from start to finish, it’s easy to forget words and fluster yourself. It may also make you reliant on notes. Lastly, reciting a pre-written script can make you sound like a robot, and that is NO way to connect with your audience. 

Instead, I recommend that you memorize your first and last lines. Knowing how to powerfully start and conclude your speech is the most important piece. Everything in between you can string together with various bullet points as needed. 

Just plan the structure and know the examples you want to use, and speak as naturally as possible.

14. Join public speaking groups

If you want to learn how to become a public speaker, there is no better way than by joining public speaking groups. Associations like Toastmasters International can teach you plenty of public speaking tips to boost your charisma on stage. 

There are also specific groups that can teach you how to get a TED Talk or how to become a keynote speaker. 

What is a keynote speaker? They are the main headliner at a conference or event. If you have made it to the level of keynote speaker, there is a good chance you’re making quite a bit of money from your speaking gigs – and public speaking groups can help you get there! 

15. Give yourself a pep talk

Booking big speaking engagements can be intimidating for anyone. But how we think and speak to ourselves can have a huge impact on our actual performance. Instead of letting the nerves get the best of you, one of my public speaking tips is to give yourself a pep-talk before going on stage. 

Remind yourself of your “why” for speaking. Tell yourself “I’m going to change some lives today.” 

Find a mantra that gets you in the headspace to own that stage. 

16. Don’t let mistakes trip you up

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. But most of the time, you’re the only one who knows a mistake has been made. Don’t let it derail your speech. Just keep talking until you remember your lines or get back on track. 

17. Think of the audience as your good friends

The last of my tips for public speaking is this: remember that the audience is on your side. They want you to succeed. They are here because they want to listen to you. When you remember this, it can take a lot of pressure off you during your speech.

Pretend the audience members are your good friends and speak to them with compassion. It will set you more at ease and help the audience to connect with your words. 

Take your public speaking to the next level

Now you have plenty of public speaking tips to help you succeed on stage, but if you want to become a truly successful public speaker, make sure you have a book first. 

Not sure where to start? No problem. We’ll help you write that book from start to finish! Book a call with one of our strategists to solidify your plan.


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