Get better at public speaking in 5 simple steps


Mobile app developer and success technology entrepreneur Hammad Akbar shares his public speaking tips.

For thousands of years, we humans have used language and speech to convey our most inner thoughts and feelings. We speak every day with each other, over the phone, on the bus, at work, about everything and anything.

We do it without a care, without a second thought, yet, once we’re asked to speak on a stage, in front of other people, everything changes.

The sweating, the anxiety, the nervousness – public speaking has a way of turning even the most calm and collected person into a blithering idiot. But it needn’t be that way.

Like anything, public speaking is a skill. And, as hard as it is to get into it, you can get better at it. You could be a pro in no time if you put your mind to it!

So, if you’re sick of bumbling through your work presentations or fancy your chances on the talk circuit – perhaps it’s time to up your game.

Check out my 5 public speaking tips and become the speaker you were born to be.

Prepare and prepare again

Speaking is one thing, but, preparing is 80% of the job here.

If you’re delivering a speech or a presentation, you need to make sure you’ve got everything ready to go.

If you go into something having quickly put together something in your lunch, it’s probably going to suck, let’s face it. So, if you’re serious about delivering something good, then you’ve got to put in the time.

Make sure your content – your speech, presentation, slideshow is ready well before your big day, so you’ll have chance to practice.

If you’re not very confidant, it’s important to prepare not just what you’re saying, but how you’re going to say it. Practice speaking in front of the mirror, show your friends, your family, your partner. Just make sure you’ve got it nailed.

Know your audience

Do you know who you’re delivering your speech to? Well you should. Knowing your audience is key.

A presentation to a client will probably be completely different to one for your peers – so make sure you know your audience.

You can afford to be a bit more personal with some speeches, add some comedy in some places, whilst with another audience you might need to keep things as professional as possible.

Knowing who you’re speaking in front of early on, before you’ve prepared your content, will help you immensely.

Live and breathe your speech

Notes are one thing, but to read out a whole speech is another. When preparing any public performance or presentation, you need to know exactly what you’re saying.

You shouldn’t need to read what you’re saying off a slide show or off 12 pieces of note paper – you should know your stuff.

The more in tune you are with your content and the more what you’ve prepared comes from your heart, the more natural things are going to sound.

Try preparing simple guiding notes to help show you key points – and remember, the less ‘’ummms” and “ahhhs” the better.

And… don’t be afraid to improvise! That funny thing you thought of in the car over might go down brilliantly. And if not, maybe leave it out next time.

Be lively

This ties in nicely to my point above.

Remember, if you’re public speaking, a lot of people are going to be watching and paying attention to you. You don’t just want them to hear what you’re saying, but you also want them to connect and understand your views and feelings. And if you’re staring at your feet the whole time, they might be tempted to switch off.

Now, I’m not saying you need to run into the audience and start playing a saxophone to get people’s attention. But remember to be passionate.

Look at your audience, use gestures, walk about a bit – it’ll not only put your audience at ease, but you’ll find you’ll be able to speak a lot easier.

Practice makes perfect

Sometimes you might have to do a presentation at work – it might be the only one you do that year. It might be on a subject that you might never speak about again. But that’s ok.

Public speaking can be a skill that takes years and years to get right, just remember that any practice is good practice. You’ll find yourself getting better as you go.

But, if you’re really interested in getting into public speaking, be sure to keep logs of your presentations and speeches – as they can really help you in the future.

Not only will looking back through previous events and work be good for spotting past mistakes, but a lot of that content will be reusable.

If you work in marketing, for example, there’s a good chance that you’ll be talking about marketing – in which case you might have an old hard drive full of speeches to critique and take influence from.

If you’ve got the chance, try and film or record yourself public speaking. Sure, it might be a little rough listening back to yourself at first. But if you can identify where you’re going wrong, you can really start to improve your public speaking.

So there you have it, 5 pieces of advice for all you budding public speakers out there.

But what works for you? If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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