Here are 5 essential public speaking tips that are so obvious you should be embarrassed if you’re not doing them already.

1.  Make eye contact.  That means picking individual members of the audience, talking to them just like you’re having a conversation, with the eye contact that naturally goes with that.  DON’T look over the audience’s heads.

2.  Know your audience.  That means understanding their issues, their concerns, their hopes and their dreams.  You’re not ready to talk to an audience if you don’t know what’s on their minds..

3.  Stand up straight.  Check your posture in the mirror before you start.  You need to signal to the audience that you care, and a slouch indicates you don’t.

4.  Get the words off your PowerPoint slides.  The slides are for the audience, not you.  They’re not speaker notes.  Make them illustrations that will help the audience understand better what you’re saying, NOT bulleted lists of your talking points.

5.  Show up with some energy.  Unless you’re giving the eulogy at a funeral, the people are there because they want to be, and they’re hoping for something good to happen.  Don’t waste their time and yours.  Seize the moment – use some energy.

I still get asked about these essentials all the time, and I still see people violating them all the time.  But if you’re one of those still not paying attention to these basic, minimal aspects of public speaking, then it’s time to name and shame yourself – and get with the program.  Life is too short, and audience attention too precious, to continue to make these rookie mistakes.


  1. I am not sure why #4 is so hard for people to get. I always hate it when the speaker reads off the power point. I also hate it when they read word for word from their handouts.

    I can read it myself so why do I need you?

    OK rant over

  2. Very perceptive tips for all beginners. Eye contact is key feature of public speaking. When you learn this feature then you can speak in front of thousands of people easily.

  3. I agree that standing up straight and making eye contact are both essential when speaking publicly. This is a great article, I really enjoyed reading it!

  4. I truely learned from these tip. Please i have a problem of not being fluent when i speak. I don’t know whether you can be of help.

    1. Thanks for your comment — lack of fluency can come for several reasons: anxiety, language skills, lack of preparation, lack of knowledge. In order to advise you, I’d have to know more about your reason.

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