Sunday, May 6, 2018

Master the Public Speaking Game!

Ladies! Many of the blog posts from the communications academy have largely covered how we can be great writers, but we are yet to learn how to kill it as public speakers. As great as my writing is, I one thing I sucked at was dazzling an audience with my amazing speech giving skills. Improving this skill has been a battle but gradually I am overcoming this by volunteering myself for more client presentations at work.  Being a Sunday School teacher, and having to speak to a class of teenagers every week also helped mightily.  I have also had the privilege of seeing incredible speakers such as Kweku Adiboli, Karen Brady, and Bishop T.D. Jakes (yes, I was at the Potter's House!) speak and have tried to study how they do what they do. I would like to share a few tips on how to master the public speaking game.

If you are a college or university student, work with clients or as an educator, speak at church or at any other social space or plan to be an MC then this is a MUST READ for you.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
Charity begins at home, and how you tackle your speech in private is likely to show itself in public. In essence, when speaking to a large crowd you are stepping into a role. I say this because as much as people say 'be yourself', it is unlikely that the way you speak publically will be identical to the way you speak to your girlfriends. So, practice your speech. This includes any jokes you may tell, any dramatic pauses, and the points at which you'll stop to refer to notes or your presentation (if you'll be using it). A good tip is to practice in the mirror, so you'll be able to see if you are making any funny faces. Also, record yourself so you can tell if you are sounding too 'robotic'.

Appearance first
Ladies, the first thing everybody will see before they hear a word drop out of your mouth is you. Therefore, make sure you look and feel good before you stand in front of anybody. Nothing distracts your audience more than seeing you tug at your top or shift your skirt. It will also distract you from giving your best speech! As a larger lady, I have learned to not go anywhere near buttoned shirts on the day of a presentation. I also tend to stay away from lipsticks for fear of a tiny bit finding its way onto my teeth.

Stay breathing
Now, this is where I always messed up! As soon as I stood up on stage my heart would race a million miles an hour, and this would negatively impact the quality of my speech. I would sound breathless and crazy! So make a conscious effort to regulate your breathing, meaning allow your lungs to fill up and expel air at a normal rate.

Study the crowd
Take time to study your audience. Yes, there will be times you will have to get up and speak impromptu. But if you can help it, please take time to inform yourself about the people you will be speaking to, and make your speech audience appropriate. Ths should extend itself to the humour and examples you use to hammer on your point.

Master your movements
Maintaining good posture is so important, and goes hand in hand with your content quality. Oftentimes, when we are nervous we tend to shift from foot to foot, over gesticulate or stand on the spot like a statue! If you think back to Oprah's Golden Globes speech, you would have noticed that she made small gestures with her left hand whilst she clutched to the miniscule statue with her right. She also made sure she turned from side to side so she looked like she was giving the same amount of attention to all sides of the room. Try and master your movements in the same way, and if all fails, stand with your feet shoulder about width apart, so you stay 'grounded'.

Control your props
And don't let them control you! This includes doing a recce of your venue beforehand to ensure you are familiar with it. Projectors and presentation remotes should be studied before you go up, even if it's a couple of minutes prior. If you need to have special lights acquaint yourself with the audiovisual guys because they can make or break your presentation!

Engage the Emotions
This will help you bring your audience on side, and you can do this by sharing a personal story, or telling a joke. Oprah Winfrey in her Golden Globe speech (sorry to use this example again) spoke about her childhood. Meryl Streep, in her acceptance speech, also spoke of hers. Personal stories always strike a chord with people, as does humour. Making your audience laugh will break down the barrier and relax you and the crowd.

Repeat your point
People are most likely to forget most of what you say. I once read that people will only remember 20% of your speech, so make sure you hammer on your most important points. It is said that you should 'tell them what you're about to say, say it, then tell them you've said it'. So if you want to make a memorable point, you'll have to mention it over and over!

Call to action!
Just like you would with writing, always leave your audience with a call to action. Whether you would like for them to make a purchase, or go home thinking about a particular point, let your audience know.

There you have it. My tips on how to master the public speaking game! I hope this post has helped you. I would love to know if you have any speaking engagements coming up and if you plan to use any of my tips. Comment below!

Also, I am planning to do a Q&A post in the next few weeks so please feel free to leave any questions you have been dying to know the answer to. It can cover blogging, career, relationships, family or anything else you have in mind. Please keep them decent though!



  1. Yes, yes, yes! As a public speaker, I totally agree on everything you wrote here. Public speaking is a skill that can be learnt. These tips are helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Well I am glad the professional agrees with me ☺ thanks for reading!

  2. You've listed so many brilliant points in this post, particularly making sure to rehearse plenty beforehand! Thankfully, I haven't needed to do any public speaking for a long time though. Phew! haha. x

    1. Thank you Gabrielle. I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Who knows, you may be called on to give a speech soon in the future!

  3. This is excellent advice. I am a Spiritual Coach And this was to the point!

  4. Thank you so much Sheena. I am really chuffed that you found my advice to be accurate!


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