Learning public speaking skills

This is a collaborative post, which I hope is helpful to my readers about learning public speaking skills.

If, like me, public speaking, or even the idea of public speaking, is something that fills you with dread, you may want to read on.

I am not a natural public speaker and public speaking doesn’t come easily to me. I may look like it doesn’t bother me, but, in fact, I get very anxious when I know that I am going to have to present myself to an audience or group of people and talk to them or present to them.

I recently completed a course which now qualifies me to train on a certain subject and that now means my job role at work has expanded and I will be training and teaching people in the area that I work on. This will be smaller groups of people but could also expand to larger groups and whilst I know it’s my job and I will be fine once I get used to it, I am definitely feeling a wee bit nervous about it.

Fortunately my job isn’t as glamorous as say people who act as award presenters for example, but I do need to be professional and show people I can interact with them and teach them on the topics I am trained in.

public speaking skills

People often say “imagine all the people you are talking to are naked” when they are trying to be helpful about being nervous at the prospect of speaking in public. I actually find that advice silly and unhelpful.

But I have picked up some tips for public speaking skills that I try to implement, and they do work. It’s natural to feel nervous when faced with a roomful of people but if I can do it, anyone can…

  • Breathe and keep breathing, pause for breath and don’t speak to fast in between
  • Admit you are nervous to your audience to break the ice
  • Have notes but try not to spend the whole time looking at them instead of making eye contact with your audience
  • Keep your sense of humour and smile
  • Be comfortable with taking a pause
  • Be aware of your hands and arms and don’t wave them around too much
  • Move and try and interact with the group or audience if you can
  • Use visual prompts and a presentation if that is feasible
  • Practice, record yourself and listen back and tweak what you think needs to sound better or more smooth

These are all fairly easy and helpful, practical tips and if you use them and keep using them, it does make it easier to stand up in front of a room full of people and make a speech, or present a piece of work or teach on a subject.

I think for me, the hardest part is worrying what people think of me. Because I have ADHD and part of that manifests itself in anxiety and a fear of people not liking me or rejecting me, it can make public speaking that bit more challenging. But I do find that once I am in the middle of the act of teaching or speaking, and I can breathe and relax a bit and realise the audience isn’t going to eat me, then it starts to feel better.

I also try and find someone in the audience or room who knows me, that I can focus on if I am feeling too nervous and I can silently check in with them, if I am speaking to fast or gesturing too much. This only works if you are teaching or presenting to people you know though.

But, it can be done, and even if you are nervous or don’t enjoy it, it is a great skill to be able to have. Oddly enough, I prefer a room full of people to a zoom call trying to present the same thing.

What tips and public speaking skills do you think I have missed? It’s always good to learn from other people on this one. Feel free to share in the comments how you manage and what works for you?

PS always go to the toilet before you start and don’t drink too much water before hand. Needing to pee halfway through is the WORST feeling. Best avoid that if you can!

Posted in I am not just "mum" and tagged Public speaking skills, tips for good public speaking.

One Comment

  1. Public speaking completely terrifies me! I remember when I was about 19, I had to do a presentation to my colleagues (about 20 of them) and I rushed through the presentation, missing out slides because I just wanted it to be over and done with. I’ve always found it hard networking when you’ve got 30 pairs of eyes looking at you. I’ll use your tip about pausing, that might help me to calm down.

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