I have been doing public speaking now for nearly 40 years. I was part of the Debating Team at Picton High and also used to enter Public Speaking Competitions. At 20 I joined the staff of a church and have been preaching/speaking ever since. So here are my tips to speak effectively.
1. Preparation Preparation Preparation. There is simply no better tip to be a better public speaker than being prepared. So prepare thoroughly.
2. Know a bit about your audience. What is the average age? Are they mostly males or females or a balance of both? How long have they been sitting listening to speakers before you are on? Is your session straight after lunch, right at the end of the day or first thing in the morning?
3. Know how long you have to speak for.
4. Know what Microphone you will be using. Is it a head set, is it a hand held or is it fixed to the lectern?
5. Preparation on your topic. Make sure you know what you are talking about. Sounds like an obvious statement but trust me I have heard some shocking speeches in my time, from people who had no idea what they were talking about.
6. Practice Practice Practice. I have been speaking for 25 years and I will still run through at least twice, a speech or a preach. Firstly, this allows me to see how it flows. Secondly, it shows me how long it is going to go for. Thirdly, it shows me my weak areas that I need to work on. Fourthly….it helps me when I am delivering the speech to know where I am heading without having to read too much.
7. When it comes to practice….trying speaking your speech to the TV – while it is on – When I was first starting out, I used to run through my preaches with the Channel 10 News on. This way when I was speaking and a baby would cry, or people would be walking around – I had trained myself not to be distracted by noise and movement.
8. Don’t make unsubstantiated claims. If you are preaching – back up what you are saying from the bible. If you are making a different kind of speech, back up your claims with quotes or stats with information from credible sources.
9. Speak in points. I like to speak with points. Even this blog is written in points. I think in points and I find that if I am somehow stuffing up point 4, then I can move on to point 5 and its like a fresh start. For me I also find having clear points helps me be organised, concise and know exactly where I am.
10. Dress slightly better than your audience.
11. Use props. This is how people will remember you and remember your message. I met a young man from England recently who was just a young guy when I spoke in a church in Sheffield where he attended back in 2006. He said that he remembered how I smashed eggs all over the stage – this is 12 years after the message. (I was speaking on brokenness). Props work. But use them well. I have seen some preaches with tragic use of props.
12. Don’t plagiarize someone else’s material. If you are using someone else’s material then give due credit.
13. Never ever ever go over time. If you have been allocated 20 minutes to speak – go 19 minutes. It is never ok to go over time. I say this from the perspective of an experience speaker but also the Pastor of a church, who has people speaking on the platform of my church every week. If people violate the time that I have allocated to them….then I will have a little chat with them about the importance of keeping to time. If it happens a second time, then that is the last time they speak from my platform.
14. If you ever speak with an interpreter you need to drop your time allocation by one third. So if you have 30 minutes to speak, then plan a 20 minute speech.
15. Know the things that will distance you from the crowd. I remember when I was first a pastor in Brisbane, I used to make jokes from the Platform every time the Broncos lost their footy game the day before. One time, after doing this for about 8 months, my Senior Pastor pulled me aside and said every time you bag the Broncos, you alienate every Broncos fan in the congregation. The penny finally dropped that I was doing something that was causing a disconnect between the congregation and myself.
16. Be aware of body language. Yours and your audience’s.
17. If you are putting a PowerPoint together to go with your speech – ring the venue and find out what the dimensions are of the screen. I have failed to do this on multiple occasions and have turned up with photos etc that have got stretched across the screen as I had the wrong dimensions – and it just makes you look like you have no idea what you are doing.
18. Also if you have video clip, make sure you tell the venue that you are going to want to play a video clip etc so they know you are going to want sound out of their media computer. Sounds like this should already be done, but trust me, I have turned up assuming this would be the case and have then had to dump my media – which for the message I am thinking about – the media was a crucial part of getting my point across.
19. Turn up early to the venue.
20. Have a strong finish.
21. Know who you are handing the mic to at the end of your message….the worse thing is if you finish and then you kind of have to awkwardly ask someone in the front row ‘who is taking this?’.
22. If you have the opportunity, listen to or watch a copy of your preach or speech. We all hate hearing the sound of our own voice, but push through that and evaluate yourself….this is a great way to improve.
I would like to tell you how to deal with nervousness but I all I can say is…do the above and you will have given yourself the best opportunity to be awesome and that in itself will calm the nerves. I find the messages that I have not super prepared for or that I have not practiced much….that’s when I get nervous.
Well I hope all or some of those tips helped you.
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Here are my Top Ten Theologically Orientated Blogs:
- Powerful Meditation on Ezekiel 37–Valley of the Dry Bones
- A Meditation On The Story of Jonah–From A Recent Sermon I Preached.
- There Is A Smorgasbord Of Religions In The World: What’s A Key Distinctive Of Christianity?
- I Support Euthanasia and I am Against it at the Same Time.
- Be Inspired by These Amazing Bible Illustrations.
- Peter Pilt on Shemitah, Blood Moons and the End of the World
- Peter Pilt’s Trip to Israel and the West Bank with World Vision.
- A Paper on the Application of Job – Love Does No Harm
- An Exegetic Analysis and Meditation on Romans 12:9-21
- Honour Killings–Are they rooted in Islam?
Categories: CityHOPE Church
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Hi Tony, you need to put your new email into the ‘subscribe to the blog’ area…I am unable to update it from my end.
Sound advice Pete
You certainly know your stuff Pete. Not sure if I will ever get a chance to do public speaking but I will copy those tips. Thanks for sharing
I was reading Adam McHughs book Introverts in the Church. He has some comments on how an introvert pastor should preach (yes there are introverted pastors) . I found when speaking to a group whether at work or the wedding of a daughter it was most responded to when I spoke from the heart.
Its always best when you speak from the heart.
It’s always best when you speak from the heart.
Someone I think combines the intellect with the spirit in his preaching. Notice no “Praise the Lord”, “Hallelujah”
Reminds me of a comments by former FBI head James Comey “Character matters” He was sacked by Trump over “this Russia thing” Trump later tried to say it was about reported turmoil in the FBI ranks.
Great article. Number 7 was my fave.