The Art Of Public Speaking

Updated: November 30, 2021
Motivational speaker Sinead Kane stood on a stage holding a microphone
By: Sinead Kane

Do you want to speak with confidence and clarity?

Do you want to know how to craft your speech and get your message across?

Do you want to connect and engage with your listeners?

If you have answered yes to these questions, good, you are in the right place.

I have been a public speaker now for many years. The size of the audience has varied from 20 people to 7,500 people. No matter what the size of the crowd I still always get nervous before I speak. I think getting nervous can be a good thing. It gets the adrenaline flowing and it also shows that you care about the event.

I often wonder did I choose public speaking as a career or did public speaking choose me because even when I wasn't a public speaker I was still using public speaking skills when I was practicing as a lawyer. I think public speaking chose me as a career because public speaking feels natural to me. My role in Public Speaking is to make a difference. For me it is not just about presenting - it’s about connecting with the audience. I care about my audiences. I care about their company values and the work they do.

Fear of public speaking

Why do so many people fear public speaking? What can a person do to overcome their fear of public speaking? Many people fear embarrassing themselves and saying the wrong thing. Some people fear going blank. Challenge your beliefs to reduce that fear. I remember a quote by Carl Jung that said "I am not what has happened to me. I am who I choose to become". This quote from Carl Jung is powerful. It is our personal responsibility to decide what we focus on, what we do, what we choose. The decision lies with us whether to let fear stop us from public speaking or whether to overcome it. Personal responsibility is scary. It is challenging. Yet, it is what makes us human beings. Your life is not defined by what happens to you, but by how you deal with it.

A great story to visualise this powerful lesson is the parable of the egg, potato, and coffee beans. If you put each of them in boiling water for long enough, the potato will become soft and weak, the egg will become hard, and the coffee beans will change the water to something entirely new.

You can view the boiling water as the challenges you face in your day to day life. No matter how big or small these challenges might seem, you can always choose how you react to them. You can be a soft potato or an egg that becomes even stronger through storms. Or you choose to be adaptable just like the coffee beans and make the most out of the challenges you face.

Secrets to public speaking

1. Preparation

One of the secrets to public speaking is preparation.

2. Time your speech while practicing it.

Know the length of time for your speech. Sometimes the audience can lose interest in your speech if it becomes too long. It is always important to be disciplined and stick to your time. When I did my first TEDx speech, I had to be so precise about my speech time because that is what TEDx requires from speakers.

3. Write your speech down and take notes.

Read your speech out loud. Visualise your speech in your head. In trying to formulate a point for your speech then Twitter can be a good place. Why because the number of words that can be used is a set amount and so you have to get your point across in that amount of words. Be smart about the structure of your presentation. Deliver your punchline early so listeners can understand and make sense out of what you’re saying. Make your speech memorable. Your speech should have an opening statement that grabs interest, A middle part that establishes your credibility and a conclusion that propels the listener to support your position or to take action.

4. Audience

Identify who your audience is and then ask yourself how you intend to get them to listen.

5. Credibility

Why should your audience be listening to you? What makes you authority on this subject matter over someone else?

6. Storytelling

Storytelling is the one thing that you can add to your presentation that is an absolute game-changer. Stories help turn ordinary speeches into unforgettable experiences. You just simply can’t afford not to them in your presentations and here’s why. If you want your audience members to trust you more, connect deeper with you, and remember what you said, then tell an emotionally rich story. When you tell stories you transport your audience to a realm of imagination and creativity which is instantly engaging and can be extremely entertaining. Try telling more stories in your next presentation — your audience will love you for it.

Traits of public speakers

Think about some of your favourite public speakers. What are some characteristics that they exhibit that you believed helped them become the amazing speaker they are today? Do you possess those characteristics? Whether you feel you do or not, there are certainly a handful of traits that many of the top-performing public speakers have. Below is a list of the 5 most important characteristics every successful speaker should possess:

Be Prepared

One of the most important qualities of a good speaker is the ability to be prepared.

Be Confident

Confidence allows public speakers to speak with clarity. When you are calm and focused, you can manage your thoughts better. Confidence also helps speakers speak slowly so they are understood.

Be Passionate

Presenting with passion shows a personal investment to the topic and connects people on an emotional level. Of course, this source of passion needs to come naturally. If the topic is something that you live and breathe – great!

Know your audience

If you are speaking in front of an audience, there is usually a reason. Know who you are speaking to and what they want or need to take away. If it's friends and family, entertain them. If it's a corporate event, teach and inspire them. Knowing the demographic of the audience is imperative.

Add humour and emotion to your speeches

Humour creates a bond between the speaker and the audience.

Every one of us wants to communicate better. Whether we’re presenting in a virtual environment, participating in a team meeting, or just talking with a friend, spouse, or stranger we all want what we’re saying to be delivered well.

Would you like to learn more tips from Sinead? Would you like Sinead to help you with your next presentation?
Get in touch today for a virtual session