- Corporate Event

10 top tips for public speaking

Public speaking, whether it’s for a packed auditorium or a virtual webinar, can be a daunting experience if you’re new to it. As experienced event planners, part of our work isn’t just to help you plan the logistics of your corporate event. We are here to help you improve your confidence and deliver a captivating presentation that your audience will remember. 

We’ve previously written about how to deliver a presentation that avoids death by PowerPoint and instead focuses on creativity and excitement. But even if you’ve planned an inspiring workshop, having the wrong speaker or someone who is visibly nervous or speaking monotonously can impact the success of your event. 

We get it. 

Talking in front of an audience is very different from talking to your team, especially if you are attending a formal conference or seminar. We’ve seen highly charismatic people struggle to deliver keynote speeches in person and stumble over their words on webinars. 

But with our help, we can give you some tricks up your sleeve to help you deliver an engaging and memorable presentation online and in person. 

Here are our ten top tips to help you conquer your fear of public speaking and allow you to shine in the spotlight:

If you’re low on confidence, the easiest way to overcome public speaking anxiety is to practise your speech multiple times. The more you rehearse, the more comfortable and confident you’ll become. Your speech will become like muscle memory, and you’ll be able to rely on the fact that you know your subject area inside and out. 

Try rehearsing it with different audience groups – perhaps with your senior management team, your junior staff members and even your family. Understanding how different demographics react to various aspects of your presentation can help you to identify your strengths and overcome any weaknesses. By giving yourself more confidence in your subject matter, you’ll naturally overcome your fear of public speaking. 

With our event management support, we can create concise cue cards with bullet points that will keep you on track. You may find that colour-coding key points may help you with visual cues or allow you to focus on what’s on the screen (if you’re using a screen). 

In our experience, it’s best not to write your entire speech because that can get you more nervous, especially if you lose your place. Your cue cards or prompt cards should be there as a reminder of key points to enable you to maintain a natural conversational flow.

If you’re participating in a webinar, you can use cue cards and written reminders to focus on questions or points of interest that you can come back to at a later time. These could either be during a later conversation or even as insights that you can feed to your content marketing team to publish on your website at a later date. You’ll be surprised how much your cue cards can help you with your post-event marketing. 

The key to a successful keynote speech, whether it’s in person or via a webinar, is to talk TO people, not AT them. This is a subtle difference, but it makes all the difference when it comes down to the success of your speech. Knowing how to talk to people is an essential part of managing your public speaking anxiety. 

If you talk at someone, the likelihood is that they’ll tune out or stop listening. In contrast, talking to someone involves a two-way conversation. Your delegates will feel involved in the discussion, and they will feel that their opinion can easily be heard in the context of your subject matter.

We often recommend that clients engage their audiences through their events. This could be managed simply by asking questions, conducting polls, or encouraging them to share their thoughts via chat or comments. In a webinar situation, it keeps delegates engaged and interested. In contrast, in a face-to-face situation, you may be surprised to see how your discussion can spark additional areas of conversation and interest. 

If you need suggestions for software tools or presentation devices that will allow you to facilitate audience engagement during your speech, please get in touch. We can recommend various options for different types of events.  

This may seem like a small point to consider, but you’d be surprised how a different microphone can make you feel if you are speaking at a corporate event. Some people like to gesticulate with their hands as they talk – in which case, they may struggle with a roving microphone. Others may prefer to walk around the stage rather than being static behind a lectern. As event planners in Devon, we like to talk to different speakers about their personal preferences because what is suitable for one person may not be right for another. 

Another point of consideration is to think about accessibility. Often, clients want to use headsets because they allow speakers to move around the stage freely and use their hands or hear what other people are saying during a webinar. But if you have someone with a hearing aid, a headset may not be a suitable choice. In which case, a lapel or handheld mic may be a better option. 

We don’t expect you to know all of the available microphone choices. What we can do is make some suggestions and talk to your tech team on your behalf to come up with the most appropriate solution for each speaker.  

This leads us to our tech check. One of the best ways to reduce nerves and improve your confidence when public speaking is to anticipate the issues that could arise. That way, you can swiftly deal with the elements that are within your control. 

When planning a keynote speech, whether in-person or via a webinar, you should always work closely with your technical team to make sure that you have everything you need. This can be from simple tools, such as using a clicker to navigate through slides or checking to see if your online presentation can use software options such as Menti or Slido. 

The last thing you need is for a last-minute technical hitch to derail your carefully choreographed speech. Planning for any eventuality will help you to feel in control over your options and ensure that your nerves subside. 

Your rehearsal time is a chance to check that the technology is working as it should, that you know what you’re talking about, that you’re staying on time and that you’re remaining true to your subject area. 

Our clients value our event planning guidance because we always factor in the pre-event rehearsal time. We want to make sure that you’re familiar with the venue or virtual platform so there are no last-minute surprises. Even practising in front of the seating layout can give you a lot more confidence than you may have anticipated and help you to minimise those on-the-day nerves. 

It goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many times we’ve seen presentations in webinars or on stage that feature spelling and grammatical errors. As a last-minute check before you hit the stage for your final rehearsal, have someone review your presentation for spelling and grammar errors. A polished presentation reflects positively on you, and you will naturally feel more confident in how you improve your public speaking skills. 

If you’re still worried about making a public speech, then be open about it. It’s okay to admit you’re nervous; it makes you relatable, and the audience will immediately be on your side. 

We often recommend that one of the best ways to embrace your nervousness is to share a light-hearted anecdote or joke about your anxiety to break the ice. Remember that humans have an instinct to relate to one another. Showing that you are nervous isn’t a vulnerability that should be hidden; instead, it may make you more memorable and give your audience something to think about.  

We’ve spoken a lot about movement and gestures, and this is important when public speaking. Think about how you naturally communicate with your peers – do you use your hands a lot? Do you like to move around a room? Our body language tells a story and should always be considered as part of your public speaking.

During your rehearsal time, you’ll naturally start to move around. Don’t be put off by your instincts. If you prefer to walk around or gesticulate, then tell your tech team so they can fit you with a suitable microphone. Or if you feel more confident standing behind a lectern with your notes in front of you – that’s also fine. It’s about embracing what you naturally feel comfortable with – after all, that’s the easiest way to feel relaxed while speaking in front of an audience. 

Our final tip is to always speak openly and honestly about your subject matter. If you are authentic and passionate about your topic, your enthusiasm will shine through and captivate your audience, whether they are sitting in the same room or watching you online.

Public speaking at corporate events is about inspiring people to want to ask questions and learn more. If you’re showing that you genuinely care about what you’re talking about, you’ll be encouraging others to have a sense of curiosity and want to know more about your subject and you. 

Public speaking takes time and patience

Remember, public speaking is a skill that improves with practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go perfectly the first time. We promise you the audience won’t remember the little stumbles or the times you trip over the words on your tongue. 

We hope that these tips will help you to become more confident with your public speaking. They are just as relevant whether you are hosting a corporate conference or a training webinar. 

If you need any more advice or guidance on how to maximise your public speaking options at your next corporate event, please get in touch. We can advise on how to improve confidence when public speaking as well as offer suggestions on how to maximise your pre-and-post event marketing opportunities. Our experience as corporate event planners means that we can think of those small details that you may not have thought of. 

To find out more – please email us directly, and we’ll be happy to have a chat! Alternatively, if you need any inspiration, why not head over to our Instagram or Facebook page.


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