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I am passionate about helping and coaching people to become better public speakers. But I don’t necessarily do it in the structured way that Toastmasters or our school system might teach us.

So today I want to deconstruct the coaching process and give some tips to people out there who may be coaching others about how they can become better and more effective speakers.

The majority of these methods are actually taken from Tim Ferris – the author of The Four Hour Work Week. He is a professional at learning things very quickly and I’ve taken the way that he goes about learning new skills and applied it to public speaking to help you be a more effective speech coach.

speech coach tips

Tip#1: Question best practices

Just because people have been taught the same way every single time doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to teach.

Questioning best practices can help our students accelerate and learn faster.

A best practice in public speaking is to focus heavily on technique. We do this by doing two things.

We firstly study the greatest speeches of all time. We break them down and analyse their techniques. We learn about pauses and repetition and using metaphors and stories.  And then we try and teach our students to add these into their own speeches.

But what if we didn’t follow this progression? What is we changed the way that we taught people public speaking?

We will later look at the notion of sequencing but I believe that the way that we teach people is not the way that we should be going about doing it.

Changing the order of the way we teach people can actually help to build confidence. And that is probably the biggest thing we need to teach people.

Tip#2: Establish a base line

We want to establish the competency of our students.

We want to understand where they’re at in their level of public speaking. You can do this in a number of ways.

But I suggest that the best way is two-fold and both would be while filming them on camera.

The first thing would be to get them to deliver a prepared speech of three to five minutes. Use that as a baseline of their speaking skills. How much do they refer to notes? How much do they say “umm” and “uhh”? How much do they stammer?

And the second thing would be to get them to give an impromptu speech of approximately two minutes and measure how well they did when they were put on the spot.

Obviously there’s a myriad of different ways that you can measure their ability. It’s up to you how you go about doing that. But that’s what I would recommend and something that I’ve found to be effective.

Tip#3: Deconstruction

Deconstruction is so important in public speaking because so often we fail to realise that public speaking is actually a multidimensional task.

We don’t just get up and public speak. It’s not one thing that we do.

We need to learn how to prepare our speeches. We need to learn how to deliver our speeches. We need to learn how to pause. We need to learn how to avoid stuttering. We need to learn how to use body language. We need to learn how to move across the stage. We need to learn how to hold a microphone and many other things as well.

So deconstructing the many skills that we need to learn can help our students become better public speakers.

It is the same as learning to drive a car. Your teacher hopefully deconstructed the driving process for you. You’d learn one step and then the next. You’d progress from straight lines to turning, from back roads to highways. You slowly build up to the big leagues.

Look at every single aspect of public speaking and deconstruct it so you can teach your students each individual aspect.

Don’t just throw it all at them at once. Give them a chance to learn some parts of it and then move up to the next parts.

Tip#4: Use the “80/20” Rule

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of the results that we get come from 20% of the work that we put in.

I believe that same is true for public speaking.  80% of our improvement will come from 20% of our practise. Breaking down public speaking and focussing on the things that are most important will help to bring your students up to a very high standard.

Use the 80/20 rule and deconstruct all the facets of public speaking. Break them down into just a few tasks and I believe that we can teach public speaking more effectively.

Tip#5: Sequencing

Sequencing refers to changing the order that we teach people.

The way that I learned in school involved talking about technique and then watching some professional speeches. We would then deconstruct those speeches and look at the different techniques that they used.

We started with technique and then talked about body language. We talked about how to structure your speech. And then it all concluded at the end with me needing to stand up in front of a crowd and give my first speech. It was absolute mayhem.

Public speaking is a skill that we learn. It’s not something academic that you can just take from books. You need to practise.

And by changing the sequence of things I believe that we can learn more effectively.

The way I learned to become a decent public speaker was to start by recording podcasts sitting down. I didn’t have to worry about moving. I didn’t have to worry about body language. The majority of my first podcasts were never published online. They were only for me.

I then progressed from podcasts to “talking head videos”. I filmed myself from the shoulders up. You can never see my hands so I got to focus on just my facial expressions and getting used to the camera.

Moving from podcasts to speaking heads and then further back allowed me to progress through the different facets of public speaking.

Break it down and structure your learning sequence. Your students can learn better and you can be a better speech coach.

Tip#6: Practice without stakes

Those first coaching appointments are going to be some of the most important moments that you have with your students.

Often people have shaky confidence and fear when they start. A great way to overcome this is to create what Tim Ferris calls “no stakes learning environments“.

These are environments where you can’t make mistakes with no repercussions.

It’s like learning cooking techniques. You don’t start with the sharpest knife. You use a lettuce knife – no risk of cutting yourself and all the freedom to learn.

We can do the same for public speaking. Don’t get your student to practise and then speak in front of an audience straight away.

Instead help them to practise in no stakes learning environments. They could record themselves in the comfort of their own homes. They could speak one-on-one with you if they are comfortable to do that. You could even turn your back and not face them when they first present so they’re not worried about you watching them.

Tim Ferris recommends that the first five lessons need to be in that no stakes environment before we move up to things that have meaning.

Tip#7: Build incentives

Once we’ve gone through the no stakes process we can then look at building incentives.

Tim recommends a site called Stickk.com. Here you can pledge a certain amount of money to a charity that you would hate for your money to go to. That money is contained. You then allocate someone you trust to be a referee.

And if you grow and acquire the skill then you can get the money back or give it to a charity of your choice. But if you fail then that money goes to your unfavoured charity.

Money is a massive motivator so that’s one way that we can build incentives into our coaching. Or you can create your own incentives if you can think of some.

Tip#8: Always choose positive feedback

There was a psychological study that was done with two soccer teams.

One team was trained with standard constructive criticism. “You didn’t kick the ball correctly because… Here’s what you can do better next time.”

The second team focussed only on positive feedback. They would look for opportunities within the team to praise someone for a skill well done. This not only uplifted the praised player but also help the rest of the team to understand how they could take that person’s praised skill and apply it to themselves.

So don’t simply tell your public speaking student that they’re doing something wrong. Instead go online and find examples of people who do a skill really well. Sit down with your student and ask them to observe how they use pauses or how they command the stage or how they use body language.

Focus on what people do well and reinforce your student with positive affirmation on the things that they do well.


Speech coaching is extremely valuable. I hope that these speech coaching tips have helped you to understand how you can be more confident in teaching your students and how you can build your students’ confidence and skills faster by doing things in a non-traditional manner.

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We celebrated my sister’s wedding recently where my Dad delivered a great Father of the Bride speech. It was funny and well delivered and brought tears to some eyes as well.

And so I spoke to him about how he went about creating that speech and what tips he could offer to any other dads out there who need to create a Father of the Bride speech.

Tip#1: Address the formalities

There are some aspects of the Father of the Bride speech that you need to address.

Traditional Father of the Bride speeches would once have involved reading out telegrams from absent guests. We don’t get many telegrams these days but it is still important to read out congratulatory messages and well-wishes from anyone who couldn’t attend the wedding.

You should also extend your gratitude to the guests who are present. Thank everyone on behalf of the bride and groom for being there and thank them from travelling from their homes – particularly if they are from interstate or overseas.

Other standard aspects of the Father of the Bride speech involve things like complimenting the bridesmaids and checking with the bride as to what she wants – or doesn’t want – included in the speech.

Tip#2: Speak about the happy couple

Then you have to welcome the groom into the family. Speak about the groom and your feelings towards him as the man in your daughter’s life.

You would then progress to talking about your daughter herself. Offer the couple compliments and extend your good wishes for their future together.

Tip#3: Give yourself plenty of time

Don’t leave your Father of the Bride speech until last minute. This is something that you should start working on as soon as possible.

A good idea is to decide on the central theme and to then structure the rest of your speech around that idea.

Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle. You have your main concept or the picture of what you want to present. Bring in all the different elements – the formalities of thanking people and welcoming the groom into the family and talking about your daughter and so forth – and put the pieces together.

Tip#4: Use humour and poignancy

A little bit of humour can be a great aspect of a Father of the Bride speech.

A few humorous remarks will be well-received and can show your enthusiasm for the event. One way to do this is through the stories that you tell.

Stories about your daughter and her soon-to-be husband will hopefully come naturally. Speak from the heart and talk about what elements of the bride and groom you most admire.

Remember – the Father of the Bride speech should compliment the couple. The Best Man may tell embarrassing stories or poke fun, but the cringe-factor is not for the dad.

End on a fairly poignant note if you can.

Ideally your speech will be short and sharp. You want to be within a three to five minute timeframe. Remember that there will be a lot of speeches at a wedding.

Tip#5: Familiarise yourself with your speech

Don’t push yourself to memorise the entire speech if you can’t. You can easily provide yourself with notes and cue-cards to guide yourself through the speech.

But you should definitely be familiar with speech so that you can offer a smooth and confident delivery.

One way to do this is with your mobile phone or other recording device. Read from your notes and record yourself speaking. Then play it back to yourself. This is a great way to hear if things aren’t flowing consistently or if you’re speaking too fast or too slow.

Tip#6: Practise with someone else

You obviously want your speech to be a surprise for the bride and groom. But it’s a good idea to practise in front of someone else. This could be your spouse or another child or a good friend.

Speaking in front of somebody will help you recognise when something doesn’t flow. You can also benefit from any advice that they have to offer.

Don’t be afraid to change your speech if something isn’t quite working. But also don’t feel like you have to change your speech. Accept or reject the advice as you see fit. Ultimately the Father of the Bride speech will be your own.

Tip#7: Have two copies of your speech

It’s always good to have a back-up plan. You don’t want to be caught unaware if something should go missing. Have two neatly-written copies of your speech and keep track of where they are at all times!

And don’t rely on your mobile phone or any other device. It’s always safer to have a paper-copy of your speech.

Another good idea is to bump up the font size. Do anything that will make giving your speech easier for you.

Tip#8: Use pauses

You need to pause for reaction.

This is not only important in getting a laugh from your jokes but also in building emotion.

Tip#9: Use eye contact

Look at the groom when you’re speaking about the groom. Like at the bride when you’re speaking about the bride. And try to look around the room in general as you’re talking.

This will help to engage the audience and communicate your message.

Tip#10: Hold the alcohol

Save the glass of red until after the speech.

You want to have a clear head as you’re speaking. You will have earned a drink when you’re finished!

Feel free to get in touch if you have any more questions about creating your Father of the Bride speech. My email is ryan@publicspeakingpower.com. I’ll be happy to forward any questions or advice on to my Dad.


Today we will be looking more into Toastmasters and how you can be involved in its various speaking competitions.

Toastmasters hold competitions all around the country and the world. Ultimately the best of the best would be crowned in a final international competition. But there are a lot of other options.

Local competitions

My father entered the “Tall Tales” competition at his local Toastmasters. It was his first time competing and he actually won against an undefeated member. His speech about “how to catch a haggis” – a legendary three-legged Scottish creature – was delivered at their regular meeting and was very well received.

This competition was held locally in the club. Toastmasters will offer many of these types of competitions on many different topics.

Often these competitions will take the place of the meeting’s usual proceedings and will be undergone instead of the regular activities or speeches.

Any number of members can volunteer to compete. Often outside guests will be brought in to judge the speeches. And fellow members can provide valuable feedback on your presentation.

The local Toastmasters competitions are less formal than international competitions. But they are still a lot of fun and offer you great public speaking experience.

International competitions

There are a lot of different Toastmasters competitions that the more competitive members can undergo.

The usual procedure involves winning the local clubs’ competitions. Then you would compete to win the zone competition and work your way up to the international competition held in the U.S.

There are a number of competitions held throughout the year on a number of different topics.

An example is the popular “Humorous” competition. If you’ve got a funny story to tell you could enter into this one. Winning the humorous competition could take you through to the zone and national levels – and maybe even further.

There’s also an impromptu speaking competition. All competitors are given the same question and the same amount of preparation time.

It’s also worth noting that in my father’s club, one member – who’d gotten to the international finals but had not attended the club for twenty-five years – returned and won several competitions.

It goes to show that the skills gained at Toastmasters truly do stay with you for life.

Getting involved

Your first step is obviously to go to Toastmasters and become a member.

Competitions will come up naturally and you can speak to your group about which competitions you can get involved in. You could also participate in several different competitions if you become a member of more than one club.

And don’t forget that you can attend the competitions without competing. You are allowed to go and watch the speeches. This is a great way to learn more about the competitions and about public speaking in general.

Listen to the advice given in the evaluation and apply that to your own speeches. This is a great way to learn and to grow as a speaker.


If you’re thinking about going to Toastmasters, take that first step and go. Go as a guest and check it out because you certainly won’t look back. It will stand you in good stead for the rest of you life.

Many people are nervous when they start. But keep at it and you could find yourself competing in the States.



How Do Toastmasters Meetings Work? (Ep30)

My father is a Toastmaster and I spoke with him recently to learn more about how the Toastmasters meetings work.

So how do things progress and how do we learn more about public speaking once we become a member?

Joining Toastmasters

You grow in confidence with Toastmasters from Day One.

The membership fees are very reasonable. It costs $35 for six months to join. You can then attend as many or as few of that club’s meetings as you wish.

Attending meetings

Every Toastmasters club is different. This is why it’s a good idea to look around and see which Toastmasters is best for you.

Different clubs will meet every week or fortnight or month.

Consider how fast you want to accelerate yourself or how much time you have. These are important factors when choosing your Toastmasters club.

You could also look at going to multiple clubs if you really wanted to speed up the process.


You then receive your first manual – “Competent Communication”.

That contains around ten speeches for you to work your way through.

The first one is quite simply called “The Ice Breaker“. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You stand up and talk to people about who you are so they can get an understanding of why you’re here and what you’re hoping to achieve.

And people come for different reasons. Some might be preparing for an upcoming wedding speech. Others may be trying to improve their work presentations. And some people simply want to gain more confidence in their everyday communications.

The second topic explores organising your speech. This involves structure – ensuring your speech has a clear beginning, middle and end.

The third topic is about finding your objective and getting to the core point of your speech without waffling on.

There are many other topics including using body language or visual aids.

Then after “Competent Communication” comes “Competent Leadership” and many other manuals. Each will strive to teach you important aspects of public speaking.

Essentially you will work through the list of contents in the various manuals and practise each of the skills being explored.  The manuals provide advice and activities.

You then give a speech that utilises your new skills and you will be assessed. After working through these manuals you will have developed a fine understanding of the basics of public speaking.

Giving speeches at meetings

Usually four or five members will give speeches at each meeting. But there are many other roles to fill at Toastmasters.

Members have the chance to speak during Table Topics and to practise their impromptu speaking skills.

Someone will be needed to chair the formal business meetings held at the beginning. This is valuable experience for any member.

Or you might be sergeant of arms that week – in charge of setting up the lectern and making sure the supplies are filled.

There’s also the role of an evaluator. Evaluation is an important part of the club’s format. This provides the member with feedback on both the positive and negative aspects of their presentation and helps them build their confidence and skills.

Why go to Toastmasters?

Toastmasters will not only teach you how to become a better speaker but also how to obtain important skills involved in leadership and other effective communications skills.

It is a practical guide to becoming a better speaker and leader. They teach people how to be a leader because it’s such a good thing to have in life and to build that confidence.

The fact is that everyone is going to have to get up and speak in front of people at some point in their life. There would be very few people in the world who could avoid that. If you have kids then you’re got birthday parties and weddings. It pays to be prepared.

There is nothing else quite like Toastmasters.

It has a fairly simplistic structure. You can go as a guest and try your hand at impromptu speaking. You could then become a member if you choose to. And then you get the basic manual that takes you simply through the various steps.

And you’re getting help all along the way with salient advice and confidence-building feedback from your peers.

It’s a not-for-profit organisation that relies on and supports it members. It’s a lot of fun and a good outing where you can really improve your abilities. It will also give you a sense of community where you can build friendships for life.

Check out the Toastmasters website if you’d like more information. Or head on over to a meeting and ask more about it there.

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I recently interviewed my father – a member and regular frequenter of Toastmasters – and got some information from him about what it would be like to go to one of these meetings for the first time.

I know there’s a lot of people who want to attend a toastmasters event but are too scared to actually go. The whole point of Toastmasters is to become more confident in public speaking so it really is a great thing to become involved in.

Here’s some information about what it is like to go to a Toastmasters meeting for the first time.

First Time Toastmasters

Toastmasters around the world

There are approximately 14,500 Toastmasters clubs in 122 countries around the world.

It’s a fairly big organisation that serves the purpose of instilling confidence. It brings people forward and helps them with their public speaking skills for both their working and personal lives.

There’s probably going to be a Toastmasters near you regardless of where you live.

Public speaking and learning how to do that is very important if we want to get ahead in life. Toastmasters is also a great way of meeting new people with a common interest. So do explore your area and see what you can find.

Finding Toastmasters

Finding a Toastmasters meeting could be as simple as doing a search on Google. Look around your local area. There might be three or four within your region.

You could otherwise find a friend or colleague who already participates. You could then attend a meeting as their invited guest. You don’t have to join the club in order to see what the meetings are like.

Be a guest of Toastmasters…

You would be introduced to the members of the meeting upon your arrival. But you then would have the option to speak and take part or to simply observe the proceedings. The choice is yours.

…Or show up alone

You don’t have to be a guest – or a member – in order to see what a Toastmaster meeting is like.

Many people will travel to different cities to see what their Toastmasters clubs are like and will be welcomed warmly.

You can just turn up at any club. And there is no need to RSVP. Just turn up!

Visit different Toastmasters Clubs

It’s a good idea is to look at a couple of different clubs before you join any. Some of the clubs are structured differently to others. Some are more formal and some are more informal. Some will have as few as six members and others could have over two dozen. There are also different zone meetings where things get bigger and you go down to different area competitions.

Go to a couple of clubs and see which one you like.

The thing about Toastmasters is that they will welcome you in with open arms. There’s no ownership of Toastmasters. It is owned by the members – the more, the merrier. They’re going to welcome you. It’s all about bringing people on.

Dress code

There is no strict dress code at Toastmasters.

This could be affected by the clubs’ premises. My father’s Toastmasters meetings are held in a licensed RSL Club at Cronulla. So obviously you need to be fairly well presented when you turn up.

But it’s important to be comfortable. This will make you more confident.

Smart-casual is usually a good choice. You’ll feel comfortable and you’ll fit in easily.

Meeting proceedings

Every club will have slightly different proceedings.

My father’s Cronulla Toastmasters meetings start with a fairly formal structure.

Business meeting

First is a business meeting. They look at correspondence and see what information has been sent in from Toastmasters International.

They will address any pressing issues. This could include things like raising money to buy a new microphone or discussing the filming of members’ speeches.

Table Topics

Then after the formalities are over they have “Table Topics”.

This activity is based on impromptu speaking. One of the Toastmasters for that week will have been given the task of preparing this. Every member gets an impromptu question and will speak about that topic for a minute and a half.

The overall topic might be “song titles” or “movie titles”. You then might get the title Batman. And you’d then stand up and speak for a minute and a half about the time you put on a Batman cape and jumped off the top of the wardrobe and broke your leg. Speak about anything that flows!

It’s the sort of thing that helps you in conversation when you’re out. Impromptu speaking makes you a bit of a conversationalist.

Again, guests and first-time attendees have the choice to opt-out of any activity that they don’t wish to participate in. But they are also free to stand up and have a crack at it.

After Table Topics there is normally a ten to fifteen minute break. People have a cup of tea and a general chat with fellow members.


And then you come back and that’s when the fun starts. They have about four speakers for the evening who would have worked their way through the various manuals.

The first manual is the complete communications manual. (We will go into more detail about the Toastmasters manuals in the next video.)

Each speaker will have their own topic and will give their speech. They will then be evaluated by another member in the Toastmasters group. They give you salient points on what you did well and what you could improve upon.

This will help you to build your confidence and become a better speaker over time.

After the meeting

At the end of the meeting the Toastmaster in charge will invite you to make a comment about the event. This is like an open forum where you can say as much or as little as you like.

Then you will likely speak with the VPE – the Vice President of Education – or someone who’s in charge of new members.

Obviously they would give you the option to go back as a guest a number of times to see if that’s the club you want to join.

And again I would stress that it’s probably advisable to have a look a couple of different clubs around where you are. You might find one where you just click with everybody.


Impromptu speaking is one of the best skills people can have because it helps to override one of the key fears associated with public speaking – the fear of stammering and failing and having nothing to say.

By becoming a great impromptu speaker you know that you can pick up the conversation from any point – no matter what happens.

A lot of people say they are too scared to go to Toastmasters. But that’s why they should go!

It really does give you the confidence to meet people. It’s not even just public speaking. It’s general discussions. It’s going out to a dinner party. It’s meeting a girl or a boy and striking up a conversation. It’s having the confidence to be able to stand and carry a conversation from beginning to end.

Toastmasters are very welcoming and offer a great environment where you can learn and better yourself as a public speaker. I hope that this information has given you the courage to go and check them out for yourself.

Toastmasters Series Part II – How Do Toastmasters Meetings Work?

Toastmasters Series Part III – How To Be Involved In Toastmasters Speaking Competititons


Using pauses during a public speech or presentation is an important way to engage the audience and to deliver your message effectively.

A lot of us fail to use pauses in the right manner and therefore we throw our audience off and lose their engagement throughout the presentation.

Pausing is something that we hate to do and something that we find very difficult during a presentation. Why is this the case and how can we effectively use pauses?

Why do we hate pauses?

When we pause during our everyday conversations we are indicating that someone else can begin talking. So we naturally use filler words – “umm” and “err” and “you know” – if we need to show that we have not yet finished speaking.

But the audience of your presentation is not going to talk back. These filler words are actually going to distract from the message that you’re trying to deliver.

So here are my twelve tips on how you can effectively use pauses during your public speech or presentation.

Tip#1: Recognise your filler words and phrases

Recognising when you’re saying “umm” and “err” and other filler words is the most important part to using pauses effectively.

Filling our pauses with words will feel and sound awkward and will prevent you from using pauses comfortably and effectively. Understanding when we use these filler words and removing them from our vocabulary will open up the opportunity to pause and create a better presentation.

How To Effectively Use Pauses During Your Public Speech

Tip#2: Plan your pauses

Plan your pauses as you create your speech outline.

You could simply write (pause) to indicate when you want to pause during your speech. Planning your pauses in advance will help you use them in the right spots and use them effectively.

Tip#3: Pause to maintain your pace

Pauses are great if you feel like you’re talking too fast and can help you to maintain your pace.

Pausing for even half a second can calm you down and start to bring you back to a regular pace. This is turn will help your audience to understand and follow your message.

Adding one pause will get you more comfortable in adding further pauses. You’ll be able to maintain a constant speed of your presentation and you’ll avoid speaking too fast as many nervous speakers tend to do.

Tip#4: Pause if you lose your spot

Many people lose their spot and immediately panic. Sometimes they’ll even announce to their audience that they are lost.

Never do this. Instead calmly pause and give yourself a second to think. Then continue your presentation from where you left off.

Revealing to the audience that you’ve lost your place will make them feel like you’re not respecting their time. But pausing will allow you to calm down and give the crowd time to think.

Remember that they’re not consistently focussed on you. They’re living in their own heads and thinking about their own things. They likely won’t notice if you pause for a moment to find your place and calm your nerves.

Tip#5: Pause at your commas

A comma is a good time for you to pause.

Simply look at your speech in written form. If it would have a comma, why not pause?

Tip#6: Pause at the end of your sentences

The end of a sentence forms a natural point in your presentation where you can pause for a moment and then continue on.

A pause symbolises that you have finished your sentence and that you are now moving on to another one.

Tip#7: Pause at the end of your paragraphs

We can use short or longer pauses to symbolise when we’ve finished a paragraph.

These pauses indicate that we’re now moving on to another point or to a completely different topic. Pausing here will get your audience in the correct mind frame and make sure that you maintain their attention.

Tip#8: Pause for emphasis

Pausing for emphasis can be done in two ways.

You can pause between your words. This would be similar to: “Pause. For. Emphasis.”

Or you could simply pause for an extended period of time at the end of your important point.

Either way will direct your audience’s attention to the point that you just delivered. If you need to you can repeat the point and repeat the pause of emphasis.

Tip#9: Pause for rhetorical questions

“Who in this audience wants to be a millionaire?” Pausing here would be an important consideration.

Pausing at the end of a rhetorical question will give your audience time to think and time to answer the question in their own minds.

Tip#10: Start with a pause

Consider pausing for a moment at the start of your presentation rather than leaping straight into your speech.

You may want to use the power stance – legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and arms comfortably held at your side.

This pause will symbolise to the audience that you’re ready to start your presentation and will likely grab their attention.

This is not a practical tip for video presentations because people could easily click elsewhere if their attention is not immediately grabbed. But a pause at the beginning of your speech can be great when you’ve got the audience’s attention and their presence for a set amount of time.

Tip#11: Pause after a joke

Pausing after a joke will give people time to laugh or time to understand the punch line.

And don’t panic if no one laughs. Just end your pause and quickly move on.

Tip#12: Pause when you deliver a new slide

This is particularly useful if you’re using a PowerPoint or a Keynote Presentation or something similar.

Pause as you flick to a new slide. This will give people time to read that slide and absorb its message before you continue with your speech.

So there you have twelve tips about how to effectively use pauses during your public speech or presentation.

Please email me if you have any feedback or questions at ryan@publicspeakingpower.com.



Getting up to do a speech that you weren’t prepared for can be a very frightening experience. But there are some things that you can do in advance that can help you deliver great impromptu speeches no matter what situation you’re in.

Impromptu speaking is being able to speak on the spot on any given topic. You need to be able to deliver it with ease and with confidence. But impromptu speaking is something that you can learn over time and you can become better at.

So here are my five tips to help you improve and become a better impromptu speaker.

Tip#1: Anticipate the possibility

Tip number one is to anticipate the possibility of being asked to give an impromptu speech.

Don’t cower in a corner and pray that you won’t be picked. We can actually anticipate getting chosen to deliver a speech.

This doesn’t have to be a big deal. Simply consider what you would do if you were asked to deliver a speech. Come up with ideas for things that you could speak about.

Anticipating these impromptu speeches before they happen will put you in a better mental state when they do occur. This will help you to avoid the “deer in the headlights” syndrome. Anticipate any speeches and you will be less likely to freeze or panic in front of your audience.

Tip#2: Understand mini-speech structures

Tip number two is to understand mini-speech structures.

This will help you to quickly craft impromptu speeches if you’re asked to give a toast or a presentation on short notice. Here are a few examples.

Story-based:  Deliver a story and then deliver the core message or moral of the story. This is a very easy mini-speech structure that you can use when you’re getting up to deliver an impromptu speech.

PREP: This is Point-Reason-Example-Point. Deliver your point then give your reason for delivering that point. Then give an example of why you’re right and close by restating the point again.

Pros and Cons: Open up the topic and give the various pros and cons. Then offer a conclusion that states whether it is good or not. This is a very simple mini-speech structure as well.

More on how to create a speech outline

Tip#3: Archive your life stories

Tip number three is to archive stories of your own life in your mind.

Make a mental note of the different aspects that you encounter in your everyday life. This could be an important news story you’ve read or an interesting fact you’ve learned or something exciting that happened to you.

Archive these stories in your mind and – perhaps more importantly – remember the core message attached to the story.

Here’s an example. Yesterday I was swimming in the pool with my children. I was blowing raspberries on my son’s cheek and he was cackling like I have never heard him cackle before. He was having so much fun just being there with me and I was just so present in that moment. It was probably one of the happiest moments that I’ve had in my life. And I believe that being present allows us to live happier lives.

There you have a personal life story and a meaning that I took from that. I can now archive that story to draw upon later should I ever need it for an impromptu speech.

So archive stories and their core messages or morals and you can pull from it and deliver a great presentation.

More on creating great stories

Tip#4: Learn how to make connections between different topics

How To Become A Better Impromptu Speaker

Tip number four is to learn how to make connections between seemingly unrelated topics.

Try and make interesting links between two things that you wouldn’t normally think to be related in anyway. Learning how to connect two things helps us to create stories and connect them with a core message.

The best and the most effective way I’ve found of doing this is by playing the Noun Game (or other fun public speaking activities). Start with two randomly selected nouns and deliver a speech that relates these two things together.

My usual example is a mechanic and a cat. How can we relate a cat and a mechanic? They’re not seemingly related topics. But if we can effectively relate them into a story then it’s going to make our impromptu speeches a whole lot easier.

Being able to relate seemingly unrelated things will help you to create a funny and memorable speech.

Tip#5: Only speak for as long as necessary

And tip number five is to only speak as long as you need to.

Don’t waffle on. Don’t keep talking if you’ve delivered your core message and your speech has been successful. Understanding when to stop your presentation is just as important as understanding what to talk about.

Speaking too long could result in people remembering only how long your speech was and not what you said.

Keep your speeches as short as they need to be. Don’t waffle on and don’t talk for too long.

So there you have five tips on how to successfully deliver an impromptu speech. Go out there and practice and become a more powerful public speaker.


How To Prepare For A Public Speech (Ep26)

Doing the correct preparation can mean the difference between delivering a powerful speech and delivering a lacklustre speech that doesn’t make an impact. Preparing correctly for your speeches and presentations is a very important skill and it’s a very important part of public speaking.

So how can we most effectively prepare for our public speeches? Today I’ve got six steps to follow to help you better prepare.

Step#1: Select your topic AND core message


Step number one is to select your topic but to also select your core message.

Almost every guidebook for speech writing will say to choose your topic. It’s an obvious starting place. But a lot of people miss out the fact that you need to also select the core message that you want to get across.

I could have a topic like global warming. From this I could have a core message about the need to:

  • invest in clean energy
  • reduce our emissions
  • plant more trees.

The same topic can deliver a lot of different core messages.

Getting clear on your core message and exactly what you want to deliver to your audience will help you frame the rest of your preparations.

Step#2: Create a structure

Step number two is to create a structure for your speech.

Speeches are generally nothing without structure. This is the pattern or journey or flow that is inherent in the speech. Your audience will likely find the speech confusing if it does not have structure.

You can see that my structure here is centred on my six steps. But there are many different ways that you can structure your speech or create an outline. I have made two different videos on how to create a speech outline and a speech outline example that you can check out.

Create a message that has an engaging introduction. We really want to grab people with our introduction. I also did a video on how to create memorable introductions that you can watch.

We want to have a great body that uses stories and engaging points.

And then we want to finish off with a bang with our conclusion.

That is how most speeches go. But how you go through your speech is really up to you.

Step#3: Write the speech

Step number three is to then write the speech (more on creating a speech outline). Or – if you decide you are prepared enough – you can stop right here and wing it.

I deliver daily videos for Public Speaking Power as well as other websites. I don’t have the time to sit down and write exactly what I want to say during my presentations. So I will create a speech outline and then wing it in front of the camera.

But I would go into more detail if I were giving a more formal presentation or if I were getting paid by someone to speak. I would write out my speech and get used to the flow of my speech and learn it. So writing out your speech can be a very effective way of preparing.

Step#4: Practise with gestures

Step number four is to then practise your speech with gestures.

We don’t just want to add gestures to our speech because gestures will come naturally. I have talked in detail about using gestures.

But we need to practise our speech using gestures in front of a mirror or in front of the video camera. You can plan out gestures if you want but I think this is more likely to confuse you because you’ll be trying to remember so many things.

So practise your speech and make sure that it flows well. Then use and practise your gestures.

Make sure that they seem ordinary and that you’re not doing anything weird or uncomfortable. Your gestures should be natural and not obtrusive.

Step#5: Practise with an audience

Step number five is to practise in front of people and get feedback.

This is most important if you’re giving an important speech or presentation.

Practising by yourself is great but speaking in front of someone will heighten your natural ability to identify anything that feels or sounds silly.

You could do this with a spouse or your children or one of your friends. Simply getting up in front of someone who can give you feedback will allow you to better understand when something is flowing and when it isn’t.

You will also get the added benefit of the feedback that the person provides us.

Step#6: Learn and improve

And step number six is to learn and improve after you deliver your speech.

So don’t deliver your speech and immediately put it out of your mind. You’re likely to have to give multiple public speeches throughout your life. So it’s important to learn from every single experience that you have and to become a better public speaker.

Think about the things that you did well. You could even list them on a piece of paper or in your head.

And then consider what you could improve upon. Don’t question what you did wrong – this will only bring your morale down and lessen your confidence. Instead identify your weaker points and think of ways that you can better yourself next time.


So there you have six steps to help you prepare for a public speech and to help you become a more powerful and effective public speaker.

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If you want to create a great public speech then you need to nail the opening. The opening will cause your audience to either listen in to what you have to say or to pull out their phone and start browsing through Facebook.

Your opening is so important. You want to create an opening that shocks the audience and grabs their attention. You want it to be memorable after the presentation is over.

Creating a great speech opening isn’t easy. Often we’re taught in school to start a presentation by telling people exactly what you’re about to speak about. And then you speak about it. How boring…

We want to create a speech opening that is more memorable and exciting – something that will cause your audience to listen in. Here are my four tips on how to create a memorable speech opening.

Tip#1: Use the art of misdirection

This is when you lead people along a path and then suddenly abrupt that path with something unexpected. The reason that this works successfully is because it peaks the audience’s curiosity as to why you changed the direction that the speech was going in.

Let’s look at some of the greatest speakers of all time. There are people like Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, or Kermit the Frog.

Wait. Kermit the Frog? What do you mean Kermit the Frog? How is Kermit the Frog one of the greatest public speakers of all time?


Using the art of misdirection peaks the audience’s interest and gets them to listen to more of what you have to say. They have never thought about Kermit the Frog as being a great public speaker and they want to hear your perspective.

Tip#2: Tell people Something They Didn’t Know But Thought They Did

Tip number two is to tell people something they didn’t know but thought they did.

So here’s something for you. Did you know that when Christopher Columbus discovered America, the people at that time actually knew the world was round?

The story goes that everyone thought that the world was flat but Christopher Columbus knew otherwise. Then he sailed to the other side of the world and found America.

The truth of the matter is that it was a commonly held belief at that time that the world was round. Christopher Columbus was actually arguing with the Queen of Spain about the size of the earth. He thought the world was a lot smaller than it actually is.

He thought that going in the opposite direction would allow him to find a shorter trade route to China. Obviously he didn’t find China. He bumped into America and the story goes on from there.

But something that we believe to be true – which is that everyone at that time thought the world was flat – can be enlightened by revealing that people actually didn’t believe that the world was flat.

This peaks your interest because you want to correct your beliefs and understand the other side of the story. Teach people something they didn’t know but they thought they did and you will earn their attention.

Tip#3: Come at your topic from an unusual angle

How To Create Memorable Public Speech Openings

Tip number three is to look at something in a more interesting way or to come at something from an unexpected angle.

Jerry Seinfeld established public speaking as the number one fear despite the fact that there may have only been little truth in the statement. And he did this by looking at it in a different way.

Simply stating that public speaking is the number one fear would not be memorable. Instead he made the joke that more people at a funeral would prefer to be in the coffin than to be giving the eulogy.

This funny context was something that you wouldn’t usually think of. Coming at the topic from an interesting angle allowed him to make the claim that “public speaking is the number one fear” very memorable.

So try to think of ways that you can come at something from a different angle and be a little bit unexpected.

Tip#4: Tell relatable stories

And tip number four is to use stories that people can put themselves in.

Jesus Christ did this really well. It doesn’t matter whether you believe Jesus was the son of God or not. The stories he told are nonetheless effective in getting his point across.

Jesus spoke about things that were relevant to the people at that time. He spoke about shepherds and kings, about taxes and working the land.

He told stories where people could put themselves in the situation and understand the story better and understand the message that he was trying to deliver.

I go to church and have heard many sermons. And the most memorable ones are those to which I can personally relate. An example would be the pastor who spoke about his daughter whom he sadly lost to cancer. As a father with a daughter, I could relate to the emotion in this story and understand how traumatic the experience must have been.

Stories are a very effective way to create a memorable speech. Relate to your audience and you will be able to tie in your core message and peak people’s curiosity.


So there you have the four ways to create a memorable or shocking speech opening.

Be powerful, be strong and be a great public speaker. I know you’re going to nail it.



What percentage of people are afraid of public speaking? And is public speaking still the most common fear?

Public speaking is commonly stated as the number one fear above everything else – even death. This notion was popularised by Jerry Seinfeld when he stated that most people at a funeral would prefer to be in the coffin than to be giving the eulogy.

But what percentage of people are actually afraid of public speaking and can we really define it as the number one fear?

What Percentage Of People Are Afraid Of Public Speaking

The R.H. Bruskin Survey

The most commonly stated study on this topic is the survey by R.H. Bruskin Associates from July 1973.

This survey asked people about many different fears. The results showed that 41% of people were afraid of public speaking. And only 19% of people stated that they were afraid of death.

So this survey did indeed show that more people were afraid of public speaking than death.

But it’s important to note that public speaking is not necessarily the number one fear amongst people. It is not the thing that they fear the most but rather it is the most common fear shared among people in general. It could be a small fear or it could be a significant phobia with anxiety and panic attacks.

The Gallup Poll

Further surveys have been done over and over again. A common one that people refer to now is the Gallup Poll undergone in 1998 and in 2001.

The 2001 survey found that 40% of people were afraid of public speaking. Public speaking was the second most common fear after the fear of snakes.

This same Gallup Poll in 1998 stated that 45% of people were afraid of public speaking. It again came second to snakes.


Many surveys have been done between 2001 and 2014 with varying results. You can look into these surveys if you would like more detail.

An important thing to know is that approximately one-third of these surveys found that public speaking was the most common fear. This means that two-thirds of these surveys found that something else was the most common fear.

The surveys and the resulting percentages vary widely. It is unclear exactly what percentage of the population is afraid of public speaking. But using these surveys as a guide allows us to assume that just under half of the population is afraid of public speaking in some sense.


Are you afraid of public speaking? Do you want to improve your confidence and get over the fear of public speaking? Then head over to the Public Speaking Power archives. We have lots of activities to help you improve your public speaking skills. We also have articles on how to overcome the fear of public speaking and so much more.

So what percentage of people are afraid of public speaking? It seems to be around the 40-45% mark according to the studies.

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