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Mastering the Art of Public Speaking

Updated: Mar 13, 2021

Present like a boss by UpTicker

Michael J Gelb has served as an executive leadership and presentation coach for Global corporations. He is a 5th degree Aikido black belt, an expert in Tai Chi and Qigong. Gelb’s main lesson is: Make your presentation ethical, even noble, and speak to your purpose.


Millions of people have a phobia of public speaking. Gelb shares his secrets to public speaking and this will fuel your comfort and success as a public speaker. The author sets out 8 key lessons to keep in mind when speaking to the public.

Always seek feedback! In other words get constructive criticism and practise consistently.


Many people are afraid of public speaking but by following the steps below it is possible to turn fear into positive energy and become an excellent speaker.

Newspapers have previously reported that people find public speaking to be worse than death. The technical term for this is glossophobia and the National Institute of mental health estimates that three quarters of Americans suffer from this. Some experts have said that this is actually the fear of rejection. If a person is unable to speak well in front of people this could damage that person's career path and hamper personal growth.

Fear is your friend. It will keep you sharp and focused as you learn to dance with it instead of letting it bully you. Many actors have taught themselves to swap fear with focus. They don't try to get rid of the butterflies in their stomach rather they they organised the butterflies to fly in a formation

  • Strong public speaking requires the presenter to be:

    1. Clear - Talk through your message and why you want to communicate it. Remember to research, plan & prepare

    2. Present - Apply the techniques below and speak as “your true-self”. You can’t fake it on the podium


1. Visualise yourself as an accomplished and powerful “professional presenter”

“If you don't know what you're talking about while you're talking about it you probably shouldn't be talking”

Professional presenters have a clear and mindful plan and an awareness of what they can and can't control. Study what works for you and what doesn't and you will enhance your skills. As time goes on you will put your fears to rest and turn public speaking into a joy.

2. When you are presenting, be present and empathetic towards your audience

Get out of your own head, stop focusing on yourself and stop focusing on others. This will get rid of any nervous feelings, think about what is important to your audience and think about their needs first.

“The fear of failure and embarrassment leads people to focus on themselves instead of their audience”

Your goal is to provide benefits and insights to your audience with the information you present it is not to put yourself under a spotlight.

3. When preparing your presentations use the “mind-mapping” method

“Mind Mapping” is a concept developed by Tony Buzan and Rely on keywords colours and images to transfer your mental content to paper

  1. Begin with a symbol or picture at the centre of your page

  2. Use keywords

  3. Connect the key words with the lines via the central image

  4. Print your keywords

  5. Print one word per line

  6. Print your keywords on the lines and make the length of the word the same as the line it's on

  7. Use colours pictures dimensions and codes for Greater association and emphasis

  8. 3 associate then organise

4. Make your presentations more memorable with the “PROPAR” approach

This will make your content more memorable

  • “Primacy” - First impressions count so bear that in mind when you lay out your information

  • “Repetition” the more you repeat something the more memorable it will become for your audience

  • “Outstandingess” the more unusual an idea is the more likely it is to to be memorable to your audience

  • “Personal Association” people are more likely to remember your information if it is is relevant

  • “Recency” people often remember what they heard last so bear that in mind when preparing your presentation

5. There are other factors that will affect your presentation so bear those in mind

Pay attention to details that are not normally considered, for example, is the lighting adequate? How are the acoustics? How is there air quality in the room etc. If you are presenting virtually you may want to consider if you have a good internet connection? Are you using a microphone? Do you have an appropriate background which will not distract your audience? Would headphones be useful and are you familiar with presenting on the software you are using (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams) so that you avoid any potential technical difficulties.

“the one easy way to become worth 50% more than you are now now Is to hone your communication skills both written and verbal” - Warren Buffett

Stand up comedy is considered the most difficult type of presenting so if you would really like to throw yourself in the deep end try giving that it go.

6. Be clear and precise when conveying your message and select the correct words to use

Avoid fillers like hmms, aah, oohh, eerrmms.

Don't use jargon unless you are confident that everyone understands what you are referring to Read work from quality writers and listen to dynamic speakers to identify areas for improvement.

7. Align your body language with your words

Body language is non-verbal communication. Be conscious of your hand movements, eye contact, posture and tone of voice. Smile, breath, and soften your eyes, shoulders and jaw. If your words and body language do not align you will lose credibility.

A famous Chinese proverb says beware of the man whose stomach does not move when he laughs. An authentic passion for your topic will radiate your natural self.

8. Emulate the skills of an effective salesperson to influence your audience

Your official job title may not be salesperson however you are selling. Doctors sell patients on treatments, lawyers sell their arguments to the jury and in one way or another you are selling too. Develop your sales skills. There is lots of free material available online.

Jason Belfort has written the straight line selling system which covers the key pillars of selling


  1. Follow the 8 Points above

  2. Always seek feedback in other words constructive criticism and practise consistently

    1. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Ask others to evaluate your performance and offer constructive criticism or feedback. Like with almost everything in life, practice, practice and practice and more. Practice makes perfect!

Additional Tips:

  1. If you suddenly freeze up, pause, exhale and gather your thoughts. You may want to ask your audience “where was I?” to get a nudge back onto to your presentation

  2. Keep practicing until you feel confident in yourself and the material this may take anything from a few hours to a few days

  3. If you do not have enough time to prepare a presentation rely on your mind maps to organise your ideas quickly full stop it may also be helpful to talk out loud your thought process and then flesh it out

  4. Be respectful and confident when presenting to senior Executives. Speak with authority as they are spending valuable time listening to you. This is your opportunity to prove yourself worthy of their time and attention

  5. Avoid not preparing, a monotonous delivery and speaking too long learn your audience and learn when too to stop speaking

  6. You can make it clear from the outset whether you are happy for people to ask questions while you go through your presentation or if you would rather people save their questions to the end and you can set aside some time for questions and answers. If you don't know the answer, say so, I promise to get back to the question once you know the answer.


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