How to be a Good Public Speaker – In 5 Steps

How do you feel when you are told for the very first time to do a paper presentation on behalf of your company or you find yourself standing before a panel of judges for a job interview or project defence?


The act of public speaking is a skill and its techniques must be mastered by public speakers. If you are the type that avoids public speaking at all cost or when you are summoned to speak, your heart takes first flight out of your mouth or networking is a nightmare and the thought of getting up in front of total strangers to deliver a paper presentation fills you with anxiety, then, this article is for YOU!

Before we bang at the doors of those 5 steps that can make YOU a good public speaker, let us arm ourselves with the meaning of public speaking.

How to be a Good Public Speaker - In 5 Steps

Meaning of Public Speaking?

“Public speaking also called oration or oratory is the process or act of performing a speech to a live audience…” – Desmond Gahan

We can liken this to mean that public speaking is “speech performance“. In other words, the speaker is an actor who performs before a live audience and without proper guide, he/she may not render the rendition well.

Now that we have a clear knowledge of what public speaking is and what is involved, lets look at the 5 steps that can make YOU a good public speaker.

5 Steps to Good Public Speaking

  • How Well Do You Know Yourself?

The ability to think is what makes us humans and what goes through our minds is the reflection of who we are. The Holy Bible  says, “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which came of the giants, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers; 13:33) Moses sent out spies to spy the land of Canaan, above was the negative report they returned with. The same happens to many public speakers of today. The presence of scholars at public gathering has thrown many speakers of balance. Don’t see yourself as a grasshopper, be bold and rain supreme.

  • You Must Know Your Onion

“Certainly YOU will hear the voice of fear, DON’T listen to it, like Caleb, shout down the wall of fear around you“. But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “ Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to over come it.” ( Numbers; 13:30)

Public speaking is a thing of the mind

“If your heart falters in its leadership, the sword will drop from your hands.” – The Art of Public Speaking (Dale Carnegey and J. Berg Esenwein). Public speaking has nothing to do with one’s age or qualifications, it bows to application of certain principles. It Is a mind thing that requires self-confidence and conviction.

Some preachers in the Christian faith have said that David in the Bible became a General without being in the Israeli Army or going through any military training nor had any military experience. Just the “I can mentality” made him confront Goliath at that young age and that earned him (David) a spot in Christian history as a brave lad.

As a public speaker, I put it to YOU that you are an authority, that is why YOU have been chosen to speak or to be listened to. This thought alone should boost your morale.

Knowledge about the topic and proper research should not be taken for granted.

  • Present The Paper To Yourself First

From the definition of public speaking we understood that it is an act of speech performance, that means, rehearsal is involved. You have to read your paper presentation to yourself at every free time you get and this helps to;

  1. Get the words internalized
  2. Check the meaning of words and how they are pronounced.
  3. Once you get the words internalized, on the day of performance you may not spend much time with your paper presentation but still deliver the exact content of the paper.
  • Avoid Too Much Gesticulation

This cliché in public speaking can be very annoying and distracting. As the speaker, let your mouth do much of the talking NOT your hands or legs. Try as much as possible to maintain your space around the Podium. You could put one of your hands in your trouser pocket and feel like the Boss that you are (this though depends on your audience and must not be applied when you are presenting to your boss or leaders).

It is also good that you go with your pen as a companion and play with it when you feel stage discomfort.

Also Read: Top Professional Negotiation Skills You Need To Succeed in Business

  • Make The Atmosphere Friendly

Don’t be quick to start your presentation, it is a sign that you are not in control. Take a little time to look around the hall, possibly into the faces of your audience – you are taking dominance psychologically. Then, little by little you start off. You could even start with a joke. “All work no play,” they say, “makes Jack a dull boy.”

This is where creativity comes in. You have to quickly look for a SHORT and LIVELY story your audience can relate with and share it with them. You are relaxing your nerves and also getting use to your audience. You no longer see them as HYENAS and LIONS that can eat you up- they have become your friends. At this stage, all is set to eat them up with your presentation.

Finally, the day of presentation is like your wedding day, don’t spoil it, make it entertaining for your guests.

I hope you kill that next presentation after reading this. I would love to hear your thoughts on the comment box.

Uchenna Okere

Okere Uchenna is a thespian, poet, grammarian and public speaker. He writes on issues pertaining personal development.

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