#288: Public Speaking Skills | Speak So Your Audience Listens

Sep 20, 2023 | How To Develop Skills, Public Speaking & Presentations

Have you ever stepped onto a stage to give a presentation in English — or shared an idea at work with 5 of your coworkers — and instead of people looking at you with anticipation, waiting for your next word… you just see confused faces? 

And you get that, “Oh no, they didn’t understand or care about what I said” feeling.

Trust me, you are not alone. It’s happened to me too. I’ve spent years – in English and my second language – learning to level up my public speaking skills.

And that’s the good news. Public speaking is a skill. That means it’s something you can improve when you have the right strategies and practice.

If you want to confidently give a presentation in English, knowing that your audience is interested in what you have to say – whether you’re talking to 5 people or 500 – it comes down to one essential public speaking skill: speak so your audience listens.

How can you do that?  That’s what I’ll help you do with 3 simple tips in this Confident English lesson.

Psst… 📣 Want to get personalized, in-depth speaking practice with me to boost your English speaking skills? Join me for Fluency School. My VIP Fluency School Program is the most personalized, most transformative course I teach.

WATCH THE LESSON

English Public Speaking Skills | Speak So Your Audience Listens

Let me start by removing some worry and stress about public speaking in English.

You do not need a highly advanced vocabulary or years of public speaking experience to give a meaningful presentation in English.

The 3 insider tips to speak so people listen just might surprise you, especially number 2. With each tip, I’ll demonstrate how you can apply the recommendation. 

And, if you want more on this topic, I have several lessons I recommend including 

Tip #1: Know your audience

Before you do anything. Before you give your presentation… before you even plan what you want to say, you have to know your audience.

This doesn’t mean knowing each person individually but rather – who is coming to listen to you speak?

Are you sharing ideas with your coworkers who already have ALL the same background information as you?

Are you speaking to an audience who shares your excitement about a topic? Like watercolor painting techniques?

Or are you speaking to people who have never heard of an issue? Like how to use AI in the workplace.

 

To know your audience means to know what people already know or don’t know, what they think or believe or feel about the topic.

When you have this information, it will help you better decide WHAT to share in your presentation so your audience is interested rather than feeling bored or lost.

When preparing for your presentation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why does this presentation matter to my audience? 
  • Why should my audience care about this? 
  • What does my audience know?
  • What does my audience not know? 
  • What information does my audience need? 
  • What are my audience’s needs?

Tip #2: Keep your language simple

I know this might surprise you. We’re so tempted to use overly complicated, advanced-level vocabulary. And I’m here to tell you, you don’t need to. Whew, that’s a relief, right?

Tip #2 is to simplify information as much as possible. That means keeping your language simple.

Simple, relevant language makes information easier to digest or understand. If you want your audience to remain engaged, if you want them to listen, don’t overcomplicate your presentation.

To do this, avoid:

  • complex statistics or examples;
    • Think how best you can deliver the same level of information in a quick and simple way.
    • Can you use graphics, share main takeaways, or create a simple chart?
  • Elaborate words or phrases
    • In order to → to
    • Reconceptualize → reimagine
    • Due to the fact that → due to/since
  • Complex, run-on sentence structures

And use jargon sparingly or none at all.

Lastly, don’t force your audience to read between the lines or spend too much time evaluating your meaning.

When you keep your language simple, you’ll immediately prevent confusion or the need to read between the lines.

Tip #3: Acknowledge and Speak to Your Audience

What this means is to acknowledge that your audience needs space and time to think about what you’ve said. To give them that space and time, speak to your audience accordingly.

How can you successfully do this?

  • Don’t rush. Instead, slow down your pacing, this includes your transitions as well as your speech.
  • Use the power of the pauses.
    • Remember, pausing can help us maintain a solid pace, highlight and emphasize key details, as well as provide time for your audience to process what’s been said.
  • Wait patiently
    • During Q&A or after a question has been asked, wait patiently. Some people need time to formulate their thoughts, speeding through this or speaking can interrupt that train of thought.
    • Instead, wait 10-15 seconds before moving on.
  • Lastly, look at your audience.
    • Eye contact with your audience members is the most powerful way to gauge interest/attention and create a connection.
    • If you’re feeling a little nervous, transition between direct eye contact and looking ahead and slightly above the audience.

Share Your Questions & Tips

Whether you have experience giving presentations to large audiences or you communicate with small groups at work, I’d love to know…

1. What are the biggest challenges you experience? Share them with me. You might have the next topic for one of my Confident English lessons. 😉 Even better, join me for Fluency School — my intensive speaking course designed to unlock your fluency and confidence.

2. What tips/recommendations do you have based on your experience? Your insight might be exactly what another member of my Speak Confident English community needs right now. 🙌

As always, you can share your comments and questions with me below.

~ Annemarie

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