basic elements of public speaking

The 7 Basic Elements of Public Speaking

Remember that time you had to present a topic in front of a crowd? Probably it was a proposal at work or an oral report in grade school. You took the time to prepare and gather materials, after which you climbed the podium and started talking.

There are seven basic elements of public speaking that you used there, and surely you had to find effective speech delivery techniques to make sure your presentation was a success.

7 Basic Elements of Public Speaking

There are seven elements of public speaking:

  • The speaker
  • The message
  • The audience or receiver.
  • The channel.
  • Feedback.
  • Noise.
  • The place or situation.

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Before we go into the details of each of the basic elements of public speaking and share some of the fundamental tips on how to make an effective speech delivery, let’s start by looking at what is public speaking.

What is public speaking ?

The best way to define Public speaking is by looking at two key concepts:

  • A message
  • An audience

This means that every time you go to a meeting, attend a conference call, or present solutions to your boss – you’re engaging in public speaking. It doesn’t matter the number of persons listening to you; it is still defined as public speaking.

Most people do not realize that public speaking is something they practice every day. However, understanding this gives you a significant advantage and an excellent opportunity to practice.

What are the elements of public speaking?

There are seven elements that a speaker must understand to be able to prepare and transmit an effective speech or presentation in public. A professional and effective speaker knows that he must apply these seven elements at the same time.

However, not paying attention to any of these aspects may result in an unprofessional or disastrous speech or presentation.

Let’s look at them thus;

#1. The speaker

the elements of public speaking

One of the most pivotal among the basic elements of public speaking is the speaker itself, that is, the source of the message. Many speakers forget that they are the presentation itself, and not the visual aids they use. Many presenters or speakers today put a lot of effort into visual aids and forget that those elements are just that visual aids that help the speaker make a better presentation. Relying on visual aids in one hundred percent is not recommended.

There are three factors that we need to consider about any speaker.

#2. The message

The message refers to everything the speaker says, both verbally and bodily. The verbal component can be analyzed in three basic elements.

Let’s see each of these three elements:

Content: This is what the speaker says about the subject or topic.

Style: This explains the way the content of the Speech is presented. The style may vary; in some cases, it must be very formal or very informal. Most presentations can fall between these two extremes, and in each case, the style should be determined by which one should be the most appropriate for the speaker, the audience, as well as the occasion and place.

Structure: The structure of a message is your organization. There are many ways to organize your message; The structure could include an introduction, a body or argument, and the conclusion.

When your presentations are poorly organized, it reduces the impact of the message. For a speech or presentation to achieve the desired objective, it must captivate and impact the audience from the first 60 seconds until the end of the intervention.

#3. The audience

components of public speaking

A professional speaker should analyze his listeners before the Speech and decide how to present his ideas. This analysis could include some important considerations:

Needs, Age, sex, marital status, race, geographic location, type of group (homogeneous or heterogeneous), education, trade, activity, and profession.

The speaker should always adapt to the audience, both in their language and attire (as much as possible).

#4. The channel

When a speaker communicates with his audience, they use many communication channels. These include the nonverbal channel, the visual channel, and the auditory channel.

The nonverbal channel includes:

  • Gestures
  • Facial expressions
  • Body’s movement
  • Physical posture

The visual channel includes:

  • Diagrams
  • Drawings
  • Graphics
  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Objects

The auditory channel include;

  • Tone of voice
  • Variations in voice volume
  • Tapes, CDS or audio materials

#5. Feedback

Although for some people it might be strange to see feedback as one of the basic elements of public speaking, rest assured that it is definitely one of the key elements to watch out for.

Feedback is the process through which the speaker receives a response or information from the audience that has heard the message. 

The feedback process is not completed until the speaker has responded to the concerns of his audience. 

When you speak in public, you must be attentive to the nonverbal reactions of the audience and be prepared to respond to the reactions of the public during the presentation. The responsibility of a professional speaker is to provide your audience with all the information you need to hear.

#6. The noise

There are two types of noise that a speaker should know:

External noise and internal noise.

External noise consists of sounds from laughter, poor acoustics of the auditorium, temperature (too hot or too cold), poor ventilation, visual interference such as low light, or obstacles between the speaker and the audience.

Internal noise occurs when the speaker is confused or conveys an unclear message about what he wants to express.

The best way to combat any type of noise;

Use more than one communication channel at the same time (verbal and nonverbal). Ensure that the auditorium is conditioned to appear in public. Use the repetition of ideas throughout the exhibition. Transmit a clear and concise message for the audience to understand.

#7. The place or situation

The place where a speech is delivered may be one of the most critical elements for the success of a presentation. It stands to reason why we added it as one of the 7 basic elements of public speaking.

It is recommended that you review the place or auditorium where you are going to make your presentation. You also need to know in advance the exact spot where you are going to speak in public and to coordinate all the details to take all precautions in advance. 

For example: the conditions of the place, the seats, the air conditioner, the lighting, the arrangement of the platform, the seats, the tables, etc. All details must be under control.

Having looked at the basic elements of public speaking, the next thing you need to know is that there are several types of speeches a person can deliver and that there are key principles you can follow to ensure a successful speech delivery.

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How many Types of Speech are there?

Depending on the intent of your message and sometimes the topic and environment, there are over 14 types of speeches , and I have an article discussing each one of them, check them HERE

For this discussion, we will list nine types of speeches. They include;

  • Demonstrative Speech: this type of Speech focuses on educating the audience on a specific subject. Here, the demonstration or presentation is aided by adding a visual aid which to describe further how to do something.

Examples of demonstrative Speech include topics like ‘how to make money on the internet,’ ‘how to write a cover letter,’ or ‘how to start a blog.’

They are usually very short. You are already familiar with an entertaining speech if you’ve ever been to a wedding banquet or reception.

  • Informative Speech: this type of Speech provides the audience with a piece of new information on a specific subject. Informative speeches rely on facts and statistics and various data to ensure that the audience learns something. 

Examples of informative Speech include topics on economic and social changes in a community etc.

  • Persuasive Speech: the idea of a persuasive speech is to persuade the audience to believe that the opinion of the speaker is the right one. Some speakers will use solid facts, figures, and statistics to back up their argument. 

Examples of Persuasive speeches would be one delivered to try to raise funds for a cause.

  • Oratorical Speech: this type of Speech is usually given at special ceremonies such as graduation, which involve special activities such as ribbon-cutting or inauguration ceremony. Oratorical speeches are best kept short and informal. 
  • Motivational Speech: This type of Speech aims at self-improvement for the members of the audience. Motivational speeches are common in business executive meetings and aim at encouraging employees to complete a particular task. Other examples would be speeches made by life coaches who try to get you moving and pursuing your dreams.
  • Forensic Speech: Here, the speakers perfect their skills while being supervised by experienced speakers. It is usually associated with students who seek to hone their craft while practicing at the same time. 
  • Debate Speech: debate speeches are not meant to persuade the other party to switch side; instead, the speaker justifies his or her opinion. Debate speeches are of different forms, which include mock trials, public forum, impromptu, Lincoln-Douglas, extemporaneous, classical, parliamentary, and more. 

Examples of special occasion speech include award acceptance speeches which describe what an award means to a person and used to thank someone for an award; tribute speeches which pay tribute to someone who is either alive or dead;

Now that you know that there are several types of speeches out there, check below 9 key principles for effective speech delivery.

types of speech styles

8 Principles for Effective Speech Delivery

There are no secrets to public speaking. It’s all about learning! Politicians speaking on television or in front of an audience have developed their capabilities to captivate an audience by undergoing some personal training overtime.

Here’s a list of eight principles of effective speech delivery

#1 Practice in advance

Another challenge every speaker wants to overcome is tension. Rest assured, everyone feels apprehensive and tense when they are about to speak to an audience. A beating heart or trembling hands are normal symptoms.

To prevent these feelings from overriding the quality of your performance, or preventing you from speaking in public at all, practice in advance. 

According to experts, it is best to practice in the shower, since practicing in front of a mirror can be a great distraction. A good alternative is to train out loud, trying to identify those details that can be improved to make a brilliant presentation.

#2 Know your audience

Before giving your Speech, try to speak with part of your audience, so that if you feel nervous, there are some familiar faces inside the room that will give you back your security. Remember that one of the keys to a good speech is to make good eye contact with those present.

Knowing more about your listeners will help you determine your choice of words, the level of information, the organizational model, and lines that will motivate them.

Create the outline of your Speech: write down the subject, the general objective, the central idea, and the main points.

Most importantly, be sure to grab the audience’s attention within the first 30 seconds.

#3- Relaxation techniques

If before entering the room, you find yourself nervous, it is best to take a few deep breaths that allow you to regain your calm. Finally, try to channel that adrenaline into positive energy. The adrenaline rush that makes you sweat also makes you more alert and ready to give the best of yourself. It’s pretty positive, isn’t it?

#4- Do not read your Speech

If you are not in a formal event where reading your message is important; generally, you will want to deliver your Speech from the heart. However, you should refrain from reading the Speech completely (in most cases) because your message will come as something distant. 

Reading a presentation or a slide breaks the interpersonal connection. By keeping eye contact with the audience, you keep the focus on yourself and your message. A brief overview of your speech outline can serve to refresh your memory and keep your plan in mind.

You can use audio-visual aids judiciously to highlight your point. However, using this tip too often can break the direct connection to the audience, so use it sparingly. These aids should improve or clarify your content, and thus capture and maintain the attention of your audience.

#5- Start with an anecdote or an interesting story

Many people often make the mistake of starting their speeches by thanking the presenter or expressing their happiness for being there. Still, it is proven that the best way to start a presentation in public is by an anecdote or story that projects the subject you are going to talk about.

Don’t hesitate to include a funny anecdote in your presentation. Spectators generally appreciate a personal touch in a speech.

Take advantage of every opportunity to put a face to the facts of your presentation.

#6- It must be simple

When making a presentation, you should put aside fancy speeches with hundreds of data. Keep in mind that people do not remember much of what they hear, so the best speeches include a relevant message and some great stories to illustrate the message you are going to convey.

#7- It must be short

A good speech should never be more than ten or twenty minutes long. According to experts, the ideal time is to last seven minutes.

#8- Use body language

If your body betrays symptoms of nerves or fear, those present will be more closed to adopt the message you want to convey. In order to succeed, the public must feel that you are having a good time and that the theme of the Speech arouses you a lot of passion and emotion.

Check out our 19+ Public Speaking Techniques article for more tips.

Delivering a Successful Speech


Understanding the basic elements of public speaking and the principles of effective speech delivery will be essential in taking you to that next level of preparing and delivering memorable and engaging speeches. Do not underestimate the importance of doing your best to accommodate each and every aspect of speech delivery that you can, in order to increase as much as possible the success of your presentation.


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