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Being An Effective Public Speaker

By Colin Ong TS

Many people find it hard to speak in public. There are many reasons, namely the fear of being rejected or forgetting one's train of thought. This will lead to stage-fright.

Even with the emergence of many multimedia devices that can spruce up a presentation, the importance of public speaking cannot be denied. The reason is that the individual has to be persuasive in bringing forward his views. For instance, in the workplace, a successful presentation may translate into a lucrative contract; in a school presentation, a good speech may mean a better grade.

Though many people may never be conference speakers with a large audience, the rules of effective public speaking is similar to giving a small presentation.

Here are some tips:

Background Research

It is important to conduct background research about the topic before giving your speech. You can use the search engine to find relevant materials or use the reference section of a public library. Remember to inform your audience about where you get the information.


You have to be aware of the programme in which you are delivering your speech. The audience may find it hard to be captivated during your speech if it is allocated right after lunch. In this situation, you may have to be lively or ask your audience to move about. In contrast, if your speech is in a programme that is somber, you may have to omit your funny anecdotes.


Many public speakers have very good content but their voice has a quivering quality. This gives the audience an impression that they are not confident of their own material or are timid in nature. These outcomes will give the speaker a negative impression and the audience may not be receptive to the rest of the speech.


Many public speakers do not place enough attention to their attire. This not the correct attitude. The first reason is that the speaker may constantly adjust his jacket and the audience will automatically look at his jacket and not pay any attention to his speech. A second reason is that his attire may be too striking and the audience may not listen to him.

Question And Answer Session (Q&A)

The Q&A session can be the most harrowing time of any public speaker because he does not know how the questions will be structured. From my experience, with a good background preparation of the speech, the audience's questions actually value-add to the presentation. The reason is that most of facts would have already been included in the speech. A heated Q&A implies that the presentation may be rhetorical or unsubstantiated.


The use of multimedia presentation tools is almost compulsory in most public speech. However, the speaker has to ensure that the multimedia tool is not too wordy or has too many "bells and whistles and has the unintended result of distracting the audience. It is good to distribute presentation handouts before your speech so that your audience can take notes.

Selling Your Organisation/School

During your speech, you may want to provide personal case-studies and it is unavoidable that you bring up your oganisation or school. If this is done subtly, the audience may be receptive. However, if your speech is a total marketing exercise, your audience may be skeptical about the reliability of your speech.

About The Author

Colin Ong TS is the Managing Director of MR=MC Consulting Pte Ltd ( He is a sought after trainer for educational instituitions.


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