User Reviewed

How to Speak Confidently in Public

Five Parts:Preparing to SpeakHoning Your MessageSpeaking in PublicSample Persuasive SpeechesSample Informational Speeches

Speaking in public is a fear for a lot of people, whether it's giving a speech, a toast at your friend's wedding, or being called on in class. Fortunately, you can make speaking in public less anxiety inducing by following some of these types. It may never be your favorite thing, but you'll be far less likely to throw up in front of your audience.

Part 1
Preparing to Speak

  1. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 1
    Know your subject. Part of making yourself a comfortable and dynamic public speaker is to make sure you know what you're talking about and you know it well. Lacking knowledge can make you anxious and uncertain when you're speaking and that will come through to your audience.[1]
    • Preparation is key. Take your time when you are planning your speech to make sure that it flows naturally and logically. You'll also need to make sure that you know how you're coming across while giving the speech and heighten your good qualities while downplaying the less good qualities.
    • Even if public speaking is something like having to answer a question in class, you will still need to make sure that you know your subject. This can help you feel and present as more confident, which will make a good impression on your listeners.
  2. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 2
    Train your body. While speaking in public isn't like running a race, there are still things you can do to make sure that your body cooperates with you. This goes beyond not shifting your weight from foot to foot while you're talking (hold your toes still and you won't find yourself doing this). It has to do with breathing, with projecting and making sure you're speaking properly.[2]
    • Speak from your diaphragm. This will help you to project clearly and loudly so that your audience can hear you without seeming like you're straining or shouting. As an exercise, stand up straight and put your hand on your abdomen. Breathe in, and breathe out. Count to 5 on a breath and then 10 on a breath. You'll feel your abdomen start to relax. You want to be breathing and speaking from that relaxed state.
    • Modulate your tone. Figure out what the pitch of your voice is. Too high? Too low? Going into registers only dogs can hear? Relaxing, standing in a comfortable (but upright) position and breathing properly will help you find a more comfortable and more pleasant tone.
    • Avoid throat breathing and upper chest breathing, as these both can add to your anxiety and tighten up your throat. In consequence, your voice will sound more strained and uncomfortable.
  3. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 3
    Practice pacing. People speak a lot more quickly when they're just having a conversation, but that sort of speech doesn't work when you're speaking in front of a group. Your audience needs to be able to follow along with what you're saying and be allowed time to process the speech.
    • Try to speak more slowly and more carefully than a typical conversational tone. Make sure that you allow for pauses between different ideas, or especially important themes, so that your audience has time to understand and reflect on what you just said.
    • Practice proper articulation and pronunciation. Articulation is when you're pronouncing sounds. Focus especially on enunciating these sounds: b, d, g, dz (j in jelly), p, t, k, ts, (ch in chilly). For pronunciation, you want to make sure you know how to pronounce all your words and that you've practiced pronouncing the more difficult ones.
    • Eliminate the 'um's and placeholder words such as "like." When public speaking, these words make you sound as if you don't know what you're talking about. If you need to gather your thoughts, you can always pause — doing so will appear deliberate.
  4. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 4
    Know your speech. Knowing your speech is just as important as knowing the subject you're giving the speech on. There are also different ways of giving speeches, so you'll need to pick the way that works best for you.
    • To give a speech, you'll need to either have some sort of note cards or outline. Or you can do it from memory, if that is something that you do well (don't try this if you aren't super confident you can do it).
    • You don't need to write down every single thing on your note cards (leave a little room for improvisation), although it can be helpful to make notes of things like "pause after this information" or "remember to breathe" so that you actually remember to do those things.
  5. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 5
    Memorize your speech. While you don't necessarily have to memorize your speech or talking points, it can be a great way to help you appear confident and easy in your subject matter. Make sure that you have enough time set aside to do this, however.[3]
    • Write out your speech over and over. This method helps you to remember the speech. The more you write it out, the easier it will be to recall it. Once you've written it multiple times, test yourself on how well you remember it. If there were parts you couldn't remember, write those specific parts over and over again.
    • Break your speech down into smaller parts and memorize each of those parts. It is really hard to memorize an entire speech in one go. The best thing to do is memorize it in small chunks (start with each bullet point, and then move up to memorizing your 3 different main points, etc.)
    • Use the loci method. Break down your speech into paragraphs or bullet points. Visualize a picture for each bullet point (like imagining a Harry Potter if you're talking about J.K. Rowling's influence on children's literature). Determine a location for each of the points (like Hogwarts for Rowling, a meadow for Stephenie Meyer, etc.). Now you'll progress through the locations (you fly on a broomstick from Hogwarts to the meadow, for example). If you have multiple things to say about each specific point, then put them in specific places around the location (like a point about Harry Potter's popularity in the Main Hall, or the effect she had on revamping the genre in the Quidditch field).
  6. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 6
    Know your audience. You need to know who you're giving your speech to, because things that might go over well with one type of audience are going to anger or bore another type. For example: you wouldn't want to be informal during a business presentation, but you might be informal with a group of college students.
    • Humor is a great way to loosen yourself and your audience up. There's usually a type of humor that fits most public speaking situations (but not always!). It's good to start off with a little humor to lighten the atmosphere and give the impression of confidence. Telling a funny (and true) story can be a good way to do this.
    • Figure out what it is you're trying to get across to the audience. Are you trying to give them new information? Rehash old information? Are you trying to persuade them to do something? This will help you focus your speaking around the main point that you want to get across.
  7. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 7
    Practice. This is hugely important if you want your speaking in public venture to go well. It's not enough to know your material and what you're trying to get across. You need to have done it enough times that you feel easy in it. It's like breaking in shoes. The first few times you wear them you're going to get blisters, but soon they'll be comfortable and fit you well.[4]
    • Try to visit the space you'll be speaking in and practice there. This will give you greater confidence because you're more familiar with the area.
    • Video your practicing and find your strengths and weaknesses. Although it can be daunting to watch yourself on video, it's a great way to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. You'll notice what your nervous physical tics are (shifting from foot to foot, running your hands through your hair) and you can work on eliminating them or keeping them to a minimum.

Part 2
Honing Your Message

  1. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 8
    Pick the right type of speech. The 3 types of speeches are informative, persuasive, entertaining. While there can be overlap between the different types, they each have a specific function that they fulfill.[5]
    • An informative speech's main purpose is to give facts, details, and examples. Even if you are trying to persuade your audience, it is still about the basic facts and information.
    • A persuasive speech is all about persuading your audience. You will employ facts, but also emotion, logic, your own experiences, etc.
    • The purpose of an entertaining speech fulfills a social need, but often uses some of the aspects of an informative speech (like a wedding toast, or an acceptance speech).
  2. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 9
    Avoid a rambling opening. You've definitely heard the speech that opens with "when I was asked to give this speech, I wondered what to say..." Don't do it. This is one of the most boring ways to start a speech. It rambles all over the place through the presenter's personal life, and is almost never as entertaining as the presenter thinks it is.
    • Start your speech by giving your main, overarching idea, and the 3 (or so) main points you have to support and elaborate on it. Your audience is going to remember your opening and your closing better than they remember any other part of the speech.
    • Open it in a way that gets your audience's attention right off the bat. This means offering up a surprising fact or statistic, or asking a question and blowing your audience's preconceptions out of the water.
  3. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 10
    Have a clear structure. To avoid having a speech that ends up all over the place, you will need to construct a clear format. Remember, you're not trying to overwhelm your audience with facts and ideas.[6]
    • Have one overarching idea. Ask yourself what are you trying to get across to the audience? What do you want them to take away from your speech? Why should they agree with what you're saying? For example: if you are giving a lecture on national trends in literature, consider why your audience should care. You don't want to just spit facts out at your audience.
    • You'll need several main points that back up your overarching idea or point. The best number is usual 3 main points. For example: If your overarching idea is that national children's literature is becoming more diverse, have 1 point showing the new trends, have a second point showing the reception of this new diversity by the public, and a third point talk about why this new diverse children's fiction matters.
  4. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 11
    Use the right language. Language is incredibly important in writing and in giving a speech. You'll want to stay away from lots of really big and unwieldy words, because no matter how smart your audience is, they're going to lose interest quickly if you're hitting them over the head with the dictionary.
    • Use striking adverbs and adjectives. You want to enliven your speech and your audience. For example: instead of "Children's literature offers a range of diverse perspectives" say "Children's literature offers a new range of exciting and diverse perspectives."
    • Use images that make your audience sit up and take notice. Winston Churchill used the phrase "the iron curtain" to describe the secrecy of the Soviet Union. Striking images linger in your audience's consciousness (as seen by the fact "the iron curtain" has become a household phrase).
    • Repetition is also a great way to remind your audience why your speech is important (think of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I had a dream..." speech). It hammers home your points and makes it so they can't forget the overarching theme.
  5. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 12
    Keep it simple. You want your audience to be able to easily follow your speech and to remember when you're finished. Not only does that mean having striking images and surprising facts, it means that it needs to be simple and to the point. If you meander into the quagmires of tangentially related subjects, you're going to lose your audience.
    • Use short sentences and short phrases. These can be used for great dramatic effect. For example the phrase "never again." It is short and to the point and packs a powerful punch.
    • You can also use short, pithy quotes. Lots of famous people have said funny, or powerful statements in a very short amount of space. You can Try to make your own or utilize ones that are already in place. For example: Franklin D. Roosevelt said "Be sincere; be brief; be seated."

Part 3
Speaking in Public

  1. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 13
    Deal with your anxiety. Pretty much everyone gets a little anxious before they have to get up in front of people and talk. Hopefully, you're already prepared with your speech and you know how to give it. Fortunately there are some ways to make those jitters more manageable.[7]
    • Before getting up and speaking, clench and unclench your hands several times to deal with your adrenaline rush. Take 3 deep, slow breaths. This will clear your system and get you ready to breathe properly during the speech.
    • Stand confidently in a relaxed and upright posture, with your feet shoulder's width apart. This will trick your brain into thinking that you're confident and make it easier to give the speech.
  2. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 14
    Smile at the audience. Smile at them as they come into the room (if you're out there) or smile when you get up in front of them. This will make it seem like you're confident and ease the atmosphere both for you and for them.[8]
    • Smile even if you feel like hurling (especially if you feeling like hurling). This will help trick your brain into feeling confident and at ease.
  3. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 15
    Give a performance. Speaking in public, of any kind, is all about performance. You can make your speech interesting or boring depending on the performance you give. You need to have an onstage persona that you use while you're speaking.[9]
    • Tell a story. Part of your performance is giving the speech or speaking like you're telling a story. People love stories and it will make it easier for them to connect with you, even if you're talking about something factually based. use your overarching theme or subject as the basis of the story. Why should the audience care about your topic? What's the point?[10]
    • Try to have a balance between your rehearsed speech and some spontaneity. People don't want to sit there and watch you mumble through your note cards. It's a good idea to give yourself space to expand on your subject free of the note cards and to add a few side stories to give interest.
    • Use your hands to help you make points. You don't want to be flailing about onstage, but neither do you want to be standing stock still while you talk. It's good to use controlled gestures to make points as you speak.
    • Vary your voice while you're speaking. Your audience will be asleep in 10 seconds flat if you only speak in one long monotone. Get excited about your subject and show that in your inflections.
  4. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 16
    Engage the audience. You want to make sure your audience is in your power, which means engaging them in the material no matter what it happens to be. This comes down to being an interesting speaker more than it comes down to an interesting topic.[11]
    • Look at your audience. Mentally split your room up into sections and make eye contact with one person in each section on a rotational basis.
    • Ask your audience questions during your speaking. You could open up each different section of your speech with questions that you have people Try to answer, before you show them your information. It will make them feel as if they are part of your speech.
  5. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 17
    Talk more slowly. One of the things people fail most frequently in while trying to speak in public is by talking too fast. Your normal conversational speed is a lot faster than the speed that you'll be using for your speech. If you feel you're going too slow, you're probably going just right.
    • Take a drink of water if you find yourself whipping through your speech. It will help give your audience a second to catch up and it will let you take a moment to slow down.
    • If you do have a friend or family member in the audience, arrange a signal with them so they can let you know if you're going too fast. Glance their way occasionally throughout your speech so that you know you're on track.
  6. Image titled Speak Confidently in Public Step 18
    Have a good closing. People remember the beginning and the ending of a speech, they rarely remember the middle bits. Because of this you want to make sure that you have an ending that they will remember.
    • Make sure that your audience knows why this subject is important and why they should have this information. If you can, end with a call to action. For example: if you're giving a speech about the importance of art classes in schools, end by giving your audience something that they can do about the fact that art electives are being cut.
    • End with a story that illustrates your main point. Again, people like stories. Give a story of a way this information benefited someone, or the dangers of not having this information, or how it specifically relates to your audience (people are more interested when things are about them).

Sample Persuasive Speeches

Sample Political Speech

Sample Speech Asking for Donations

Sample Informational Speeches

Sample Orientation Speech

Sample Encouraging Speech


  • Listen and watch great public speakers and try to analyze what is it that makes them successful.
  • Don't be embarrassed by your faults. Demosthenes was a prominent orator in ancient Athens even though he suffered from speech impediments. A good public speaker can overcome these difficulties.
  • Try to have a few people in the audience that you know. It's even better if these are people that you've practised your public speaking on. It will help you feel more comfortable and familiar.
  • When you ask your audience a question for the sake of keeping them engaged, try to ask something they can answer easily, and then affirm and enhance their answer by explaining through your opinions or thoughts.
  • Try practising in front of the mirror!
  • When speaking make sure to look at everyone in the audience. Try not to fidget with your hands. That can show that you are nervous. You want to give a good speech, so you need to be prepared.


  • Watch what you eat before you're about to do public speaking. Dairy products and highly sugary products can make it difficult to speak, because of the phlegm they generate in your throat. Likewise, highly smelly goods (like garlic or fish) should be avoided so you don't asphyxiate your audience.

Article Info

Categories: Public Speaking