Public Speaking Tips and Tactics 101

Posted October 29, 2013 by Marie Arcidiacono in Networking Buzz

“I hate Public Speaking.” As a Public Speaking professor I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard this phrase over the past several years.

I get it.

A majority of my students are taking Public Speaking to fulfill a General Education Requirement for their degrees which means they are not voluntarily signing up. Occasionally I do get students who actually WANT to take Public Speaking but that’s not the norm so I do my best to make the class as painless as possible.

I always remind my students that they do not have to be the world’s greatest speaker by the end of our class, and really, in 10 or 18 weeks is that even possible?! If so, I should be getting paid WAY more money!

The ability to speak well in public is an essential skill set for any Career Girl. In practically every career there will come a time where you are asked to present your latest research findings, ideas, etc. to a large group of people. When that happens you want to ROCK that right?

Public Speaking has a lot to do with PRACTICE! The key is practicing smart.

If you have a big presentation coming up here are my go to “Ms. A-ism’s” for rocking your presentation:

  1. Know your audience. Find out the following about your audience: Who they are (demographics), Why they are there, What they hope to gain for your presentation, etc. Remember, audiences are “egocentric”  meaning they ask themselves, “What’s in this for me?” A good public speaker remembers this and forms their speech to their audience.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. You should practice your speech at minimum 5 times prior to your presentation. Practice it in chunks. Most people operate under the “Primacy-Recency Effect” which means they tend to remember what they hear first (primacy) or what they hear last (recency) so get these two sections down! The first 30 seconds of your speech are crucial. If you want to WOW your audience have this part memorized. First impressions go a long way.
  3. Have NOTECARDS! Even if you don’t use them (because you practiced so much) you will want them just in case. Like I always tell my students, “It’s better to be prepared to need them and not use them, than to wish you had them if you do need them.” Color code your note cards, hole punch them in the upper left hand corner and place them on a key ring. This ensures that they do not get out of order and the color coding helps you remember where you should be.
  4. Do not apologize! You want to portray confidence and starting off with, “I’m sorry, I’m nervous” does not convey confidence. Remember, you are probably more nervous on the inside than you appear on the outside. Nine times out of ten (A statistic I am basing only off my own teaching observations) your audience can hardly tell that your voice is slightly shaky or your knees are weak.
  5. Fake it until you make it girlfriend! The more you put yourself out there and practice your public speaking skills the better you will become.

I encourage my students to check out: Toastmasters if they are looking to practice their public speaking skills outside of class. In fact, some companies even have specific Toastmasters clubs for their employees—check it out!

The next time you have the opportunity to speak in public take it!

Time To Share:

How often do you use public speaking skills in your career/everyday life?

About the Author

Marie Arcidiacono

Marie is a Speech Communication professor who also coaches a debate team. She truly loves what she does and hopes to continue to teach for decades to come. In her "free time" she is an avid runner. Marie enjoys running a variety of distances, including the Half Marathon. She is dedicated to living as healthy a lifestyle as she can while balancing a very busy schedule. Marie loves to network and share ideas so writing for Career Girl Network is perfect for her. You can also read about her adventures on Why Not Girl!.