What does it take to speak effectively in public?

Audience clapping

The ability to speak effectively in public is probably the most important skill to develop to enhance your career.

You, your team, and your entire organisation will be judged on just how effectively you communicate.

Presenting information clearly and articulately is no longer good enough

We live in an information age where professionals are overwhelmed with data. They demand much more.

At Mindful Presenter we begin every single workshop and coaching session by giving our delegates a badge to wear.

It’s a bright yellow, circular badge with the big black bold letters PMMFS emblazoned on it

Those letters stand for the immensely powerful words:

Please Make Me Feel Something

Your audience don’t just want information; they are longing for you to connect with them emotionally too.

It takes alot to speak effectively in public. We run one, two and three day workshops helping professionals to do so.

For the sake of brevity, let just look at four of our favourite points of focus.

1. Mind

Whether we are addressing colleagues, clients, suppliers or superiors we are presenting and connecting mind to mind.

Scientists and psychologists have been telling us for decades that mind is far more than simply the brain.

We now know that mind is an activity in every single cell of our being.

“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.” ― George Bernard Shaw

I believe that George Bernard Shaw is suggesting is that thinking is much harder than most of us think it is.

To speak effectively in public we nee to join the 2% club

That involves thinking about the answer to a number of questions:

Who am I as a presenter?

Why am I presenting anyway, can’t I just send them an email?

What is my message?

How do I want my audience to think?

What do I want my audience to feel?

What do I want my audience to do?

Please leave your laptop well alone and switch on your mind instead

Go for a long walk


Listen to a stimulating piece of music


Read fiction

Talk to yourself


Paint, draw or write a story

Do whatever it takes for you to stimulate your mind.

To speak effectively in public we have step out of your normal routine and think differently for a short while.

Our job as a presenter is to activate the intellectual faculties of our mind. Only then can we prepare to craft a presentation that will capture and hold the undivided attention, interest and curiosity of our audience.

Those intellectual faculties are








You won’t find these in your laptop

You will find them in abundance in the deep recesses of your mind.

Once you’ve unearthed them ,you can craft a presentation which contains everything that your audience could possibly want from you.





Logical argument


Case studies

Exhibits & props



Metaphors, anecdotes

Thought provoking questions






The big picture

2.  Voice

Once you have stimulated the mind to create rich and compelling content, it’s time to think about how you deliver it.

Your voice plays a critical role in your ability to speak effectively in public.

Our voice is a like a thermostat which has its own default setting at which it feels most comfortable.

Our job as presenters is to challenge and stretch our vocal thermostat. Only then can we harness the enormous range and power of our voice to captivate and engage our audience.

There are 3 things you need to do with your voice to speak effectively in public

Vocal exercises

By far the best way to strengthen the power and range of your voice is to learn from the experts.

Sound expert Julian Treasure shows us exactly how to do that.

Watch his brilliant TED Talk here:

Read your favourite book

Take a couple of random pages from one of your favourite books.

Spend just a few minutes each week and especially on the run up to a presentation reading each paragraph out loud:

– In as many different ways that you think of

– With every ounce of passion you have inside you

– As though you are angry

– Quietly with frequent pauses

– First slowly and then speed it upfast

– As though you were sad

– Like  you have just won the lottery

Play it back

How could you possibly know and understand exactly what you sound like until you have listened to yourself speak in a recording.

If you really want to know how you sound to others, record yourself often. Play it back to yourself, listening very carefully.

Put yourself in your audiences shoes and be honest with yourself about what you hear and how you feel about the way you sound.

3. Body

Having  rich content delivered in a way that is vocally engaging is a good start.

You also have to move

Be very wary of the presentation coach who tells you not to move and to keep still at all times.

Movement represents energy and visual stimulation. When used purposefully is a gift to your audience.

The most important visual element you can show your audience is not your PowerPoint slides, it’s you.

If you are speaking about the future, take a step forward into the future

When referrin to the past, take a step back into the past.

If you are sharing three key messages take your audience to each message in three separate steps.

Hand gestures

Our hands offer a great deal in helping us to animate our message, express it with feeling and give congruence to our words. At Mindful Presenter we encourage our clients to ‘take the hand cuffs off’ and set them free.

That mean’s taking them out of your pockets, from behind your back and unclasping them. Your hands know exactly what to do once you’ve set them free.

If you are talking about something that is big then make it look big with your hands, if its small make it small.

Facial Expressions

Have you ever sat through a presentation to hear the speaker say how passionate they were about their topic yet you couldn’t tell by their face?

If your facial expressions don’t match the words that leave your mouth you can be certain that your audience will believe your face before they accept your words.

If you are not naturally expressive with your face when you speak, practice speaking in front of a mirror. Challenge your face to match your words.


Your job as a presenter or speaker is to ‘own the stage’.

That means you have to make your audience aware that the platform is yours. You will exude confidence by using it to suit you.

If you need an example of how to ‘own the stage’, I can’t think of a better one than Dalton Sherman’s key note speech to over 20000 teachers at a conference in Dallas, Texas.

Please keep in mind that Dalton is a 9 year old boy.

Watch it here:

4. Presence

It’s not easy being a high impact presenter and public speaker, there is so much to do.

You have to use your mind in a way that you may have never used it before and speak and move in a way that you also find challenging.

It gets harder

One of the greatest challenges business presenters face is actually being in the room.

They may be in the room physically but their mind and spirit is often in a completely different place. That other place often involves a personal interrogation in the quiet of your own mind:

Will they like me?

What if I freeze?

What if they ask me question I can’t answer?

Maybe they will know more than me on the topic?

I hope the technology works

I’m not sure about my slides

The Mindful Presenter makes it her priority to be in the room completely with her audience

Everything they plan to say, show or do is designed to make a tangible difference to their audience’s personal or professional lives.

The best way to achieve that goal is to be present at every moment.

– Be grateful for the opportunity to speak

– Focus on how you can help your audience

– Practice meditation and breathing exercises

– Let go the inner voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough

– Be yourself

– Be ok with not knowing all of the answers

– Listen to your body

– Feel your feelings

The best way to speak effectively in public is to craft a conversation. Focus on connecting with your audience rather than presenting to them.

If you would like to speak effectively in public:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image courtesy of Canva.com


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