Public Speaking Tips to Enhance Presentations

Note: This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated recently.

Are you afraid to speak in public?

Raise your hand if you are afraid of public speaking. OK, you can put them down. If you are like three out of four people, you fear speaking in public. It is very easy to comprehend the fear of speaking in front of strangers, or even among friends. However, at some point, you will be called upon to make a presentation. Why not increase your opportunity for a successful one? Use our tips to make your next presentation one that you’re applauded for.

Tips to improve your public speaking abilities

I’m one of the few who relish speaking in public. Being able to share ideas, to teach and learn with a group is one of the things that I look forward to in my profession. Over the years I’ve learned that you can really overcome your fears if you do these things:

  1. Create cards with your speaking points on them. Hold them and refer to them as you speak but without reading or burying your face in them and…
  2. Know what you are speaking about and why you are there and what you wish to leave your audience with. And I mean know it. Not memorize it. People panic when they can’t remember the words, but if you know why you’re there, and what you want to leave your audience with, you’re 80% home.
  3. Practice. Ask your friends or your spouse to listen to you. Choose a friendly audience who you know cares about you. Having confidence when you practice will help you and the feelings of confidence in practice will transfer to your actual presentation.
  4. Ask for a critique from your listener after practice. Ask them what they are taking away from the presentation. Does that match your goals? If not, you’ll need to refine your content or your manner of presentation or learn it more thoroughly.
  5. Use your body to help you. Stand well, project your voice. Make eye contact. You have nothing to fear from these people. They are there to hear what you have to say! Talk to them, not through them.
  6. Have confidence in what you’re saying. (See #2)
  7. Use a story to get your points across. Tell tales on yourself. Have fun.

What are the most important elements of public speaking for presentations?

View this video to learn the most important things you can do when making a presentation. This video cements points #5 and #7 in your mind.



Communications Basics: The Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches help establish trust

As a frequent workshop presenter,  I often meet entrepreneurs and owners of new businesses. At the beginning of workshops I invite participants to introduce themselves and their business with their elevator pitch. Elevator pitches are short, persuasive introductions to your enterprise.

Many people speak too quietly, hesitantly or without conviction, which leaves people in the back of the room wondering what they said or, worse, why they should even pay attention to the just introduced person. It is much better to speak boldly about your new businesses and how your services and products benefit potential customers. However, far too often, I find people don’t use their voices effectively nor do they take advantage of the opportunity to introduce their business to a roomful of new people.

As an entrepreneur, it is imperative that you learn to represent your business. Your ability to speak confidently and succinctly conveys knowledge and assurance. In turn, this nurtures trust. And trust, not money, is fundamentally the currency of a sale.

Inc blogger Geoffrey James has filmed a video with his advice about the three components of an elevator pitch.

  1. The Benefit–how your product helps your customer
  2. The Differentiator–this is the part where you explain why your product is superior, based on evidence, awards, market advantage or experience (for example.)
  3. The Ask–Request to meet or speak later.

Develop your elevator pitch by using James’ ‘explain it to a 12 year old’ method.

quotation-Marks.jpgImagine you’re a happy customer who just bought your product.

Smile.Imagine that a 12-year-old comes by and asks, “Why are you smiling?”

Explain why you’re happy in words that the 12-year-old will understand.”

You can improve by practicing your pitch and delivering it to the mirror, your family and your associates. You might even use your smart phone to capture yourself on video as you make your pitch. If you need improvement, you may find our public speaking tips helpful.

Watch the video How to Master the Elevator Pitch

Click tho view Geoffrey James How to Master the Elevator Pitch

Photo By: Richie Diesterheft

Learn To Grow With The Flow

This is a guest post by our colleague Elizabeth Beasley:

Elizabeth Beasley is the Chief Networking Office for DuMore Improv. She worked for Turner Broadcasting for 13 years and now teaches corporate and non-profit teams how to increase their emotional intelligence and become more savvy communicators by adding improvisation skills to their business toolkit. DuMore improv has consulted with companies like Career Builder, Georgia Power, The Junior League of Atlanta, Harvard Business School and Hyatt Regency. Learn more about improv training, email Elizabeth.

Have you ever wished that change was easier? That you handled awkward situations a little bit better? Or that you had the magic formula for taking your business to the next level? DuMore Improv will let you in on a little secret…it’s easy! Simply follow these 3 rules for using improvisation skills to grow your business and tell a great story.


On stage a good offer is a “gift” that you give your scene partner. It’s a statement full of rich information that’s easy to respond to and build a story upon. In the business world a good offer can be as simple as talking about your company to someone at a networking event or taking a chance on a new client you’ve never worked with before.


This is the most important rule of improvisation – saying “yes, and” to offers and opportunities that come your way. Avoid denying the situation you are in. Instead accept it for what it is and add to it! Here’s an example. Let’s say you meet a guy at an event who works in a field unrelated to yours – like unicorn training. Instead of saying “Um, I don’t think unicorns are real” say “YES, I’ve heard that unicorns are getting popular again AND I’d like to learn more about your programs.” See, you’ve just accepted his offer and added to it by wanting more information. The goal of responding with “Yes, And” is to continue building a relationship and story. If actually saying “Yes, And” seems silly, you can use other phrases like “that’s interesting” or “I like that idea.”


Making good offers and saying “Yes, And” doesn’t work unless you actively listen. How many times have you asked someone about their weekend and “listened,” when in reality you were just waiting for the chance to interrupt and tell them about your weekend? The next time you have a conversation, concentrate on what the person is saying to you, instead of thinking about what you’ll say next. It’s common courtesy, but more importantly, it’s a smart way to build alliances and respect.

You don’t have to be the funniest person in the room to use improvisation skills to boost your business and build better connections with co-workers and clients. Just follow these 3 improv rules and have fun creating a memorable story with your scene partners.

Check out DuMore Improv on the web  to learn more about improv training programs for leadership, customer service and presentation skills.

Photo credit: DuMore Improv