Six Public Speaking Tips for Everyone from PTA Parents to Entrepreneurs

Six Ideas to Help You Prepare for Your Next Public Speaking OpportunityFor some people, public speaking sparks terror; for others, talking to a crowd is downright enjoyable. We can all agree, though, that developing those communication abilities is key to connecting with success whether you’re a parent trying to raise funds for your PTA, a small business owner, or have your sights set on becoming a big-shot social media influencer.

Aside from imagining that everyone in the audience is in their underwear, how do you deal with those inevitable public speaking jitters?

For me personally, I spend some time before a big speech breathing deeply. I center myself and remember times when people have enjoyed my message or told me that my words touched a nerve in some way. Sending myself a few positive vibes before addressing a large crowd helps me focus—usually I calm down and start to enjoy myself after the first few sentences.

Are you nervous about an upcoming public speaking engagement? Here's some advice to be well-prepared and calm as you step up to the podium.
Beth Gibson, Director of Community Outreach for GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys

Beth Gibson, a 20 year veteran in the field of communications and Director of Community Outreach for GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys says that being ready for your audience will also calm those nerves.

“Preparation is your strongest competitive advantage,” she says. She advises anyone invited to speak to a group to ask lots of questions beforehand.

“Always consider your audience,” she said. As a speech writer and media liaison at the White House for several years, Gibson has developed a series of questions to help you know what you’re getting into before you step in front of the crowd.

1.Make sure you know the full name of the group you’re addressing, and ask the person who invites you to speak for a list of attendees.

“You’ll want to find out their age range, work backgrounds, knowledge level, political orientation, and any special concerns that they may have,” she explained.

2. How long should your speech be? Should you allow time for questions?

People like good speakers who don’t overstay their welcome.

3. Ask what your audience would like to hear.

What has worked well for them in the past? What hasn’t? This information will help your public speaking experience be more successful.

4. For more formal venues, ask for a meeting or program agenda.

“You’ll need to know detailed logistics about the room, setup, seating, microphones, lighting, and water availability. Use the conversation with the inviter to influence these things to your liking and comfort level,” Gibson said.

Public speaking ideas for everyone from parents to entrepreneurs5. Provide the inviter with your own introduction and bio.

“This is crucial. If you give the people free rein with your introduction, they may not get your credentials correct. This could affect your credibility and the way the audience views your authority to speak on your particular topic,” she said. “Trying to restate or correct your introduction will throw you off in the beginning of your speech.”

6. Find out if the media will be in attendance.

Even if they won’t be, this is the age of camera phones and social media. Don’t say it if you don’t want to hear it over and over again.

“Assume everything you say will be made public,” Gibson said.

These six tips will allow you to push down your jitters and speak with confidence. Beth and I will address ways to write a killer speech in our next segment.


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6 thoughts on “Six Public Speaking Tips for Everyone from PTA Parents to Entrepreneurs

  • April 19, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    I think it is important, too, to insert humor, as you go along. Not that forced and irrelevant lines but those that are natural and spontaneous. 😀 Icebreakers are very important, as I have experienced a lot of times.

    • April 20, 2017 at 1:46 am

      True! Natural and spontaneous is key! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • April 20, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Really insightful. I can speak to anyone and everyone as long as I am not asked to make a speech. The minute I stand up, I freeze….These tips will help in casual situations too when one is asked to address a group say for a reunion or family gathering too.

    • April 21, 2017 at 3:08 am

      Thanks so much! Hopefully anyone in a public speaking situation will benefit…thanks for stopping by!

  • May 10, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    I really needed this right now. I’m about to go in front of my Board of Education to ask for a suicide prevention/emotional intelligence program to be put in place in our district. Thank you for this!!

    • May 12, 2017 at 1:57 am

      I am so glad this came at a good time. Breathe! You’ve got this! What a worthy cause!!


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