Tactics for Improving Your Speaking

Most Toastmasters know that “public speaking” is much more than standing behind a lectern in front of an audience. Public speaking encompasses much more: from podcasts to casual conversations with friends, from Zoom meetings to reporting on a team project. You can attain the best results by understanding your audience, crafting a customized presentation and setting the correct goals. Read on for more!

The Audience

Connect with your audience through personal stories. What do you want your audience to feel or know? Choose stories that evoke those memories and highlight specific facts. Is the purpose of your speech informational? Tell a story where you first learned the facts you are presenting. For inspirational speeches you can tell about the lifetime of a historical figure or an important speech they gave. Entertaining speeches can be somewhat tricky in that some audiences may not respond well to particular stories. In this case, consider stories about yourself and how you reacted to events.

A Customized Presentation

The structure or form of your speech can take many forms.  One popular arrangement is introduction, points A, B, and C, and a conclusion.  Some other arrangements are chronological order, pain-problem-solution and issue, opinion and call-to-action. However you structure your speech, be prepared to make small changes to it based upon the specific audience or venue. For example, if your audience consists of technical professionals they will connect better to your speech if it is laid out logically with facts. Similarly, of your audience is a combination of adults and children a story-based structure is better.

Another customization you can make is to lengthen or shorten your speech depend upon circumstances.  If your structure contains three points (A, B and C), consider adding a fourth point (D) to be used only if there is sufficient time. Likewise, construct your conclusion to include several points in summation, again with the idea of eliminating one of them if time does not permit.

Set Goals for Yourself

Consider why you want to improve your public speaking skills. Are you thinking of paid public speaking engagements, networking with like-minded speaking professionals or marketing your products and services? Perhaps you would like to create a podcast or video channel. Understanding your goals will help you determine which talents to work on and how they will be used in your work, home and social environments.


Make certain that you understand and document your personal goals for improving your speaking skills. These goals in turn will help you decide on speech content and structure. Finally, understand your audience and how your speech will affect them. In this way you will get better at customizing your presentation for specific audiences.

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Author: Lock Lyon

Lock Lyon has been a Toastmaster for over 10 years, and is a prolific author and blogger specializing in information technology issues. In 2021, Lock was designated an Information Champion by IBM Corporation. He currently spends his time writing and speaking from his home in central Michigan.

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