You’ve all seen the power of public speaking. We see politicians persuading their voters in town hall meetings, CEOs energizing their employees and customers with dynamic keynotes, and highly interactive TED speakers inspiring their audiences to action through viral storytelling.
But how do these speakers make it look so…effortless?
Well, in short: by putting in the effort.
But, we’d argue that you also can’t underestimate the value of knowing how to reach and meet your audience wherever they are. In other words, great speakers are great because they know how to use their speaking platforms (whether that is a sales pitch or a podcast) to their full advantage. From an all-company meeting to an annual conference keynote, dynamic speakers are always looking for strategic opportunities to amplify their messages and connect with their audiences.
But creating that direct connection isn’t always easy. As a speaker, you have to break through the noise of daily life with a message that uniquely represents you, can be communicated with impact, and keeps your audience engaged. Because in today’s world, every speech is technically a public speech: every presentation from an elevator speech to an interview question has the potential to define your personal or professional brand.
Even world-class speakers have spent time thinking about how to be a better public speaker. Like any skill, this HBR article confirms you must continue to practice it, and you may find that you need to evolve your style to keep up with new technologies and delivery trends.
While most of our job descriptions don’t require us to speak in front of thousands of people on a daily basis, we all recognize why we might need to improve our communication and public speaking skills. So, whether you are trying to tell your personal story in a compelling way or get funding for the next Big Idea™, your first step is to embrace a growth mindset. Decide what skills you want to acquire to improve your delivery. Because the best public speeches–the ones that say something important about who we are and what we value–tend to come from great public speakers.
What this article covers:
- How public speaking has changed
- How to be a better public speaker
- Public speaking, power skills and you
- No need to search for public speaking courses near me
- Choosing the right public speaking course
- Improving your public speaking skills faster
- Public speaking training options and offerings
- Benefiting from Duarte’s public speaking expertise
- 3 things to know about public speaking
How public speaking has changed
Some argue that public speaking, or the art of persuasion, hasn’t changed much in since Aristotle. Aristotle said that public speech should always be audience oriented. This holds as true today as it did for the ancient Greeks.
What has changed about public speaking? For starters, the demands on your audience’s attention, the different platforms you can use to practice your speech or provide feedback, and the evolving communication skills you need to connect with your audience in a digital world.
Public speech might change from day to day—and even millennium to millennium—but skills like eye contact, body language, hand gestures, and even visual aids, continue to be necessary techniques to develop a great speech.
When shelter-in-place was lifted workers began speaking in front of their colleagues again. This is the personal touch people have been missing, but it is also a source of new social anxiety as many no longer feel confident in their persuasive speaking skills.
The good news is: in this hybrid world, you have an opportunity to develop both in-person and online communication skills that can set you apart from the rest. It’s a smart investment in your personal and professional development that will pay off ten-fold as you start learning how to improve your public speaking skills to reach any audience.
How to be a better public speaker
Most people aren’t born as seasoned public speakers. It takes time and practice to feel comfortable in front of an audience! Whether you are trying to elevate your soft skills or overcome a crippling case of public speaking anxiety, you can always improve your delivery by focusing on a few key points.
The first step to overcoming a fear of public speaking is to pay attention to your nervous triggers and practice your speech ahead of time. People tend to procrastinate when they feel uncomfortable with the task at hand, but putting off practice hinders your ability to speak confidently.
Nerves are perfectly normal
First, know that it is perfectly normal to need to collect your thoughts, experience an increased heart rate or find yourself using nervous gestures when you feel under-prepared or are in a high-pressure speaking situation. In these moments, it is important to take a few deep breaths, stay focused, and maintain a direct connection with your audience.
Good body language is key
Second, keep in mind that good body language such as good posture, moving your hands, eye contact, and facial expressions will go a long way in holding your audience’s attention.
Communicating with confidence and connection go hand-in-hand
You can try delivering your presentation in front of a mirror and then graduate to practicing in front of your friends and family, but don’t let your critical eye make you feel too self-conscious. You are always your own worst critic.
In fact, the more you improve your confidence, the more you will find your attention turning outward. You will focus less on yourself and more on ensuring you connect with your audience.
Engagement is more important than fluency
Of course, for nervous non-native speakers, public speaking proves doubly challenging. Trying to engage your audience while speaking English-as-a-second language (ESL) means you not only need to focus on writing a great speech, but you also need to feel at ease delivering your content.
While it may feel counter-intuitive, you will want to spend significantly more time on your delivery than your content in this case. Most people want to use visual aids as a crutch if they feel nervous, but your time would be better served by speaking slowly and emoting. People are interested in what you find interesting. And you communicate interest with an engaging delivery style.
Public speaking, power skills and you
For many people, the only business communication or communication skills training they have ever received was years ago in a high school or college public speaking class. Hopefully, those presentation skills have served as a valuable foundation, but the reality is that times have changed.
Whether you’re a data analyst or in human resources, at a beginner level or a seasoned public speaker, everyone can gain communication skills and deliver more effective presentations.
People are finally starting to understand that “soft skills” are really “power skills” and that truly inspired presentations incorporate storytelling, data science, and thought leadership in the same breath.
Throw in an online or hybrid speaking component and you start to see why speakers feel so intimidated. But don’t let fear of public speaking hold you back. When it comes to personal or professional development, public speaking skills training is the fastest way to adapt to a changing communication environment and improve your confidence.
A quick glance at an online public speaking course might offer some practice exercises or highly recommend a communication skills book to up-level your skill set, but you can see even greater benefit when you invest in public speaking training.
To get the most out of your investment in speaking skills, you need training that speaks specifically to your needs. Some public speaking workshops or trainings will be geared towards leadership skills while others might focus on data visualization or even storytelling and influence. Finding the right kind of skills training can help you master the fundamentals of public speaking or offer the speaking specialization you need to achieve your professional and personal goals.
No need to search for ‘Public speaking courses near me’
Like we said, maybe you took a speech class in high school, or maybe you have no knowledge of presentation skills. Either way, never fear. There are tons of public speaking courses, resources, and types of training out there, allowing anyone to improve their public speaking skills and become a dynamic public speaker.
With an influx of remote offerings and an abundance of easily accessible online content, you don’t need to go far to find public speaking tips and tricks: you can get good public speaking courses, resources, and training from anywhere, at any time. The internet offers unlimited access to information about presentation skills.
You may begin to wonder, though, ‘what’s the difference between a public speaking training, a public speaking course, a public speaking class, a public speaking workshop, public speaking coaching, and a public speaking seminar?!’ Good news: these terms are often used interchangeably and have similar meaning. But there are a few distinct differences. More on that later.
Whether you want to enhance your business communication, focus on confidence building, or simply learn the basics of presentation skills, everyone stands to become a more dynamic public speaker with targeted speaking courses and content:
Plenty of public speeches
There are a variety of speaker training types, each with its own unique style and benefit. You can always start by searching for speaking tips or speaking training online, and you can access speech banks online. You’re likely to come across examples of top-notch public speeches on websites like vital speeches of the day.
Trainings for leadership and management
If you’re intent on becoming the most dynamic public speaker and improving your leadership and management abilities, you’ll have to go a bit further than a speech bank. You can learn how to use body language to your advantage and communicate with impact if you register for one of the many public speaking courses for professionals.
Live vs Online
When you think about ‘public speaking’ you may think about presenting in front of a live audience in person. And while this is still often the case, in today’s hybrid world, there are also opportunities to practice public speaking in front of a live audience online. So, if you’re anxious to practice your speech in-person, or don’t have the ability to attend in-person public speaking classes based on travel or estimated cost, there are many live online learning opportunities that offer more comfort, flexibility, and affordability.
Choosing the right public speaking course
When you’re trying to determine what speaking class is best for your professional development, consider your prior experience, personal goals, and preferred learning environment.
When you invest time and energy in developing your public speaking skills, there are many factors to consider, ranging from your prior speaking experience and professional development goals to the location and cost of the training itself.
Each speaking course or class should include a preview of what to expect, so compare and contrast each offering to see what best suits your needs:
- Some public speaking courses may focus on delivering speeches with a vibrant speaking voice and developing an executive presence.
- Some may cover nonverbal communication cues like body language, eye contact, and the intentional use of movements and gestures.
- Others may be geared toward overcoming your fear of giving a public speech and using effective rehearsal techniques to build confidence.
- You may also find public speaking courses that focus on content first by ensuring you’re using the right key points and infusing elements of data science.
In addition to the type of content, you’ll also want to consider the estimated cost of the speaking training. You may come across some free courses and virtual training online, but many public speaking skills trainings require a financial investment. However, some organizations will pay for their employees to attend public speaking training as a part of professional development. When you become a confident speaker and learn to release bad habits, you become someone that people want to listen to, therefore enhancing overall organizational development.
No matter the type of public speaking class you choose, you’ll be more likely to deliver public speeches that are fun and engaging, communicate with impact, and speak like a pro when you invest time and energy in your persuasive communication skills.
Improving your public speaking skills faster
If you have a specific or high-stakes public speech coming up, you may want specialized public speaking coaching. How do you know if that’s the right choice?
There are pros and cons to both group coaching and individual coaching. Group workshops and live online public speaking courses may be just what you need to improve your speaking skills and analyze specific audiences. But if you want to become an expert public speaker, ace that career-defining job interview, or truly take your presentation skills to a new level, personalized public speaking coaching has pretty big benefits:
- Personalized feedback – A public speaking coach can provide tailored feedback to help you improve specific areas of your speaking skills, such as body language, voice projection, or organization of ideas.
- Customized approach – A public speaking coach can work with you to create a customized plan that addresses your specific goals, needs, and challenges.
- Enhanced communication skills – Effective public speaking is not just about speaking clearly and confidently but also about being able to connect with your audience and convey your message in a way that resonates with them. Through coaching, you can learn how to improve your communication skills and connect with your audience more effectively.
- Reduced anxiety – Fear of public speaking is common, but with individualized coaching, you can learn techniques to manage your anxiety and feel more comfortable and in control when speaking in front of others.
- Faster progress – Getting personalized attention from a public speaking coach can help you improve your skills faster than you might through self-study or group classes.
Public speaking training options and offerings
Let’s take a look at the primary types of public speaking courses so you can get an idea of what option is best for your business communication needs:
|Types of Training||Description & Benefits|
|Communication Skills Modules||These pre-recorded video lessons are easy to listen to throughout the day, on-demand. They’re a great option if you’re a beginner who wants to master the fundamentals, or for those with a social anxiety disorder and aren’t a fan of big groups.|
|Group Speaker Training||A live, highly interactive, group-based learning opportunity that can be held online or in-person. Due to the group-based nature, you’re able to develop, prepare, and deliver public speeches in real time to a live audience. The reaction of a live audience can help you gauge whether you’re communicating with confidence, and giving a talk that people want to listen to.|
|One-on-One Coaching||To finesse your speaking skills and feel confident with a complete presentation, you can consider hiring a coach whose specialization is public speaking, storytelling, and influencing. This affords you the opportunity to practice your presentation skills with an expert, one-on-one, and truly master the art of public speech.|
Benefiting from Duarte’s public speaking expertise
Duarte is recognized as a global leader in business storytelling, data visualization, and public speaking. We offer courses, workshops, and coaching to help you connect with your audience, build confidence, and pursue your personal goals as well as your professional aspirations.
Duarte has helped thousands of our customers and clients improve their presentation skills, and we like to think they’re having fun while they are at it.
The Duarte Method
All of our courses and workshops are rooted in The Duarte Method, which is designed with you in mind. We begin by getting to know you and your individual strengths and growth areas. Then, based on those specialized needs, we can help you develop your talk, polish your presence, and transform your message delivery. Some of our group trainings focus on ensuring effective story structure, audience-centered messaging, and compelling key points. Whereas our one-on-one public speaking packages are less about communication writing and more about effective delivery. After each session, our coaches provide personalized lesson summaries, practice exercises, and additional resources specific to you.
The Duarte Method always serves as the foundation, but our expert facilitators and coaches offer personalized support and will flex to meet your individual needs. Whether that’s practicing interview questions or an elevator speech, finessing your latest presentation content, or reviewing a public speaking lesson, you’ll not only walk away as a better public speaker, but you’ll be steeped in the art of change communication. The Duarte Method goes deeper than surface level to determine the root of your speaking skills and anxieties. Some clients have even referred to their speaker coach as a life coach because the speaking skills they develop change the way they communicate in all aspects of their life – not just in front of large audiences.
Whether you are speaking to persuade, speaking to inspire, or simply wanting to learn and practice in a low-risk setting, Duarte’s highly interactive virtual training and coaching options can meet every speaker where they are and help them get to where they want to be.
3 things to know about public speaking
The next time you have any kind of public speech, remember that to speak like a pro you need to practice like one. The most seasoned public speakers still experience anxiety from time to time, but they know how to get the help they need when their professional or personal goals are on the line. Developing communication skills is a journey, but it is a journey where you can use the following insights to get a head start!
1. Public speech looks different these days, but public speaking is as important as ever
Remote work, hybrid presentations, and social media have changed the way we think about public speech and encouraged new delivery styles from public speakers. Now is the time to master the art of connection whether that is with a live audience or speaking at an online event.
2. How to be a better public speaker
The fundamentals of using a vibrant speaking voice, good body language, story structure, and audience engagement are as needed now as ever, but you must know how to use new communication technologies to strategically reach your audiences.
3. Choose the right public speaking resources
Don’t wait until you feel left behind. Start learning the soft skills you need now, before your next public speech.
Public speaking courses should not only show you the fundamentals of great presentations and presenters, they should also be fun and engaging. Whether you are looking for a class on executive presence, storytelling and influence, or public speaking skills 101, take this opportunity to practice the public speaking power skills everyone needs to reach the next level and become a truly influential speaker.