10 Public Speaking Tips for First-Timers

10 Public Speaking Tips for First-Timers

Are you looking for amazing, easy-to-follow public speaking tips for first-timers? Perhaps you have an interview coming up, or an academic presentation or, a business topic to present to your audience. Going up on a stage for the very first time can be somewhat tension-filled.

My First Time Speaking in public Experience

I did some oral presentations in school, and most of the times it happened, I used to stutter, get brain freeze, and have my colleagues laugh at me. The funny thing was that I was one of the best students in my class when it came to getting good grades, yet my ability to talk in front of others was lacking I was a nervous wreck.

Just picture this, I was a 16-year-old student, who was learning the basics of Islam from my mentor at the nearest Mosque. After about one year of daily lessons, he told me to deliver sermons, and speeches to the community in his stead for one night (well, it ended up becoming two months straight).

I was supposed to honored by the opportunity he gave me, and I sort of was, but I was far too scared to notice. I had to deliver a 30 min talk on a topic that I had heard and read about multiple times, yet I was still afraid to do it.

You see, in the Islamic community you must be precise when quoting verses of the Holy Quran, or the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and if you’re ‘translating’ (more like explaining) the meanings of either, you must clarify it. This is why it’s important to know your audience.

My first fear was that of not being precise, and changing the meaning/wording of either the verses of the Quran or the sayings of the Prophet, and to deal with it, I had to prepare the script of the speech and memorize all verses and sayings by heart. Additionally, I listened to audio speeches from famous scholars to get ideas.

The audience that I was about to address was a complete mix of people of knowledge, the average Muslims and those with no formal education in Islam. That mix was the second most significant reason for me to be afraid, a few of my concerns were

‘What if I mix things up?’

‘What will they think of having a teen, a with no formal certifications as a scholar speaking to them about this topic?’

 ‘Will they like it?’ ‘What if I embarrass myself, and worse my teacher?’

There were a lot more things going on in my head, what-ifs that seem never to end, and yet I prepared myself to best of my ability, followed some of the public speaking tips that my mentor shared with me, and delivered that first speech, and many others afterward.

My story is just one of many, and I am sure you had your turn or will have soon enough.

There’s no escaping speaking in public, addressing other people if you ever want to grow as a person, as a professional, as a scientist, as a businessman, or as a public speaking pro. That’s why, I’d like to share the tips that helped, and still help me whenever I have to address other people.

A piece of Advice for Public Speaking Beginners

The biggest challenge that most first-time public speakers face is to overcome their fear of speaking in front of others, and embarrassing themselves, or not being adequate. Moreover, without ample guide, they become continually trapped in their minds and afterward make a completely horrible presentation.

I was as lucky as it gets because when the strain was becoming too heavy, my mentor shared with me pieces of advice that helped improve myself every time I stood in front of others.

Public speaking is not some complicated mathematics, calculus or some hybrid chemistry formulae. It has everything to do with your mental belief in what you are about to say. Your level of mental belief affects your confidence, and your confidence influences a lot on how you express yourself.

So, are you a first-time speaker? Are you experiencing certain uneasiness? Are you skeptical about how you may perform on that day? Do you have a feeling of failure already built inside of you?

Interesting, but this is absolutely normal, YES. There is nothing strange about have all these strains before you go out on stage. Even the best speakers have their share of public speaking anxiety, so, there is nothing strange about how you are currently feeling.

This article will give you ten (10) public speaking tips which will help you on your first (and hopefully many others) public speaking experience.

Ten (10) solid public speaking tips for your first-time experience

Are you looking for bliss? Do you want to ace that presentation, then you have come to the right place. Follow at least six (6) out of the listed ten (10), and you are well on your way to impressing yourself and your audience on your first public speaking presentation.

1.      Grow your confidence & Dress Apart

Confidence is key. It’s as important as the presentation itself. Your confidence level will determine your voice projection and body language. I have another post on how to build your confidence, you can check it here.

These two basic things will make up the convincing part of your speech. Your dress pattern on the allocated day is also important. Put on something that makes you feel smart, beautiful or handsome and also sharp. Dressing increases your self-confidence, and it also has a lot to do with building a superior complex.

I tell my students, sometimes, you need to go shopping for a new pair of shoes and outfits. Take for instance; we all love to see how sharp and beautiful Michelle Obama always looks during her public speaking processes. So, put on that gorgeous Hillary Clinton blazer style, David Beckham smile and get set to rock your stage.

our Confidence, Public Speaking Confidence building

2.      Get more information

When a topic is allocated to you, it is only wise that you practice and practice and practice again until you become absolutely well-read in that subject.

Having ample information on paper but most especially off heart has a lasting effect on the outcome of your speech. When you speak without looking down at the paper, you give an illusion of intelligence. People love and admire intelligent folks. So, this point cannot be overstressed.

You need to read, get abreast with past and contemporary examples associated with your topic, and familiarize with the content of the speech. Try to visit the library and surf more information online and offline. Get at least 3 to 5 good references to validate your points.

3.      Learn that speech – The mirror is your Best Friend

Having done your research on the topic, and prepared your speech takes you only half-way, now you need to make sure that you own that topic, and can effectively present it to others.

Take up a mirror, look at yourself and memorize your speech, the mirror will give in the illusion of an audience. It will help you with developing your body language. Practice stage movement while you speak standing in front of the mirror.

Remember; do not try to copy body movements as if you are a robot, start with those that may come naturally or more comfortable for you. I have had my fair share of watching people doing great speeches (script-wise), but their body languages were all over the place (and I was one of them).

Related Article: Understanding Body Language – 5 Great Tips for More Effective Presentations.

4.      Watch videos of other Speakers

Since this is your first public speaking experience, watching videos to guide your path as a public speaker will never be a bad idea. Get video clips of the experienced public speakers; the likes of Barrack Obama, Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, and Denzel Washington.

Scrutinize the video and watch their body movement (eye contact, head movement, hand movement, shoulder movement, and gestures, and so forth). This does not mean you should copy their styles, NO, watching them can help you build the public speaking pattern and style you want to develop, one that suits your personality and the topics that you are passionate about.

Watch how relaxed and natural they are and learn to be that relaxed, and fluid by practicing A LOT with your mirror.

5.      Record your practice session

It is always best you watch your practice performance to pick out your faults and errors.  Place a camera on the mirror while practicing with all the tips you have acquired from watching professional videos and researching on the topic.

Take some time to play the record to see all unnecessary “uh,” “hmms” and “ahs.”The record will show you your tension level, your talking rate ( if it’s too slow, too fast or just perfect) and also your delivery pattern.

Pick up the little mistakes, try your best to correct them in the next session, and then after a few trials, you will feel more and more comfortable with the delivery quality, and notice a huge difference between your first recorded videos and last ones.

Practice your Speech, Public speaking tips for beginners

6.      Sleep

Have a good night rest. It would be best if you never stayed awake all night practicing your speech. That will be a grave mistake. If you do this, you’ll look super exhausted, tired and worn out even before your speech. All your practice would have been in vain. It’s always best to rest up, take a refreshing bath, have a nice breakfast before heading out to your venue.

7.      Learn eye contact

Keep your eyes on the audience. On my first speaking events, my mentor used to tell me to always look above the head of your audience, or better yet at their foreheads. That way, you could never get distracted by what someone was doing (this is applicable when dealing with a very large crowd), and people would be under that impression that you are comfortable looking and talking to them (not looking up to the ceiling, or down).

For those doing their first speech, I still think to this day that this is a great public speaking tip, and it helps a lot. You should try it! However,  it is also good that you get to look at your audience in the eye from time to time to know how well you are doing with your speech.

If you get something out of this is, consider that you are having a one-on-one conversation with your audience, and you can start by looking at the most friendly ones if that helps.

8.      Control the room

Public speaking helps you build authority and a form of credibility. Hence, as a first time speaker, the best time to learn how to connect with your audience is now.

Make sure you are comfortable with the topic, the venue, possible visual aids, with your clothing, and yourself. Believe that everyone in this world is unique, has some value to share, and you get to do it with a large group of people. So, cherish that opportunity!

At intervals (if you can’t do it continuously) try to look into the eyes of your audience, i.e., if it’s a large crowd. However, when speaking to a small group, it is necessary that you talk directly it each and every one of your audience. Maintain eye contact while speaking.

9.      Think value

People come to listen to you because of a perceived value they hope you are going to add, be fixed on that point and concentrate on devising means to achieve it.

When you are crafting your speech, start with the conclusion, and work your way down to the opening of the speech. This way, your opening will be laser-focused on showcasing the value that people will get from listening to you.

Remember this; even if the speech is about telling the audience about yourself, there must be a valuable lesson, tip, or reason for them. It’s about how your speech will help them get some benefit.

10.      Be Crafty & Learn how to Tell Stories

If you want your audience to remember your speech long after you are gone, then you need to include stories, metaphors, and any related jokes or demos if applicable. Check out this article with 8 awesome tips to help you become a master storyteller.

It is always good to be crafty. Learn how to use anecdotes and stories to ease up stress in a room, and have your audience become more engaged and entertained by your speech.

There are many more things that we could share that can definitely help you in becoming a prolific speaker. However, I believe that these public speaking tips are just about enough for the beginner in public speaking. Master these tips for your first-time public speaking experience, and you are well on your way to become a master of the art — cheers to your success.

Thanks a lot for reading this far. I hope you liked the public speaking tips shared today, and I look forward to checking how these tips helped you with your next public speaking delivery.

Further Reading

Brian Tracy (27 Useful Tips to Overcome your Fear of Public Speaking) https://www.briantracy.com/blog/public-speaking/27-useful-tips-to-overcome-your-fear-of-public-speaking/

Stephanie Chung (Don’t let Glassophobia hold you back) https://www.inc.com/stephanie-chung/dont-let-glossophobia-hold-you-back-learn-how-to-own-the-stage-as-a-first-time-p.html

Emidio Amadebai

An avid seeker of knowledge, and passionate about sharing the lessons he picks up in life. Emidio is passionate about public speaking, teaching, and helping others develop critical soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and other interpersonal skills which are in high demand in today's rapidly evolving market.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Emidio — I applaud you for getting through your first presentation. You had a lot of content to master, and memorize, so bravo. I continue to attend presentations and panel discussions where the speakers try to “wing it” without proper preparation. It’s damaging to your professional reputation and so important to master the tips you outline to become a better speaker.

  2. Ryan K Biddulph

    I like these tips Emidio. Practice makes better, so keep on practicing guys, to polish your public speaking skills. Takes courage, clarity and a willingness to devote yourself to your craft.

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