11 Public Speaking Tips for Youth (and Adults!)

Public speaking is an essential skill for entrepreneurship and beyond, but for many, it’s a source of anxiety. However, with consistent practice and applying specific techniques, anyone can become more confident sharing their ideas with any audience!

We’ve compiled a list of public speaking tips that can help both youth and adults become more confident, persuasive speakers. 

Public Speaking Tip 1: Composure

Even professional public speakers get nervous! It’s normal to be anxious or worried and have lots of adrenaline flowing. Take two deep breaths. Practice what you’ll say in your head and go for it!

Watch Sage master his composure (and remember to stop and breathe at 30 seconds) to deliver a wonderful pitch:

Public Speaking Tip 2: Body Language

Body language can make a big difference in how your message is perceived. Sit/stand up straight. Use your hands as you talk (but not too much) and avoid crossing your arms. Maintain eye contact with your audience to establish connection, trust, and show confidence.

Public Speaking Tip 3: Speed

Pay attention to how quickly or slowly you are speaking. Effective speakers talk at a pace that makes it easy for the audience to understand what they’re saying. Consider recording yourself and listening back to your speech; you may be surprised by how fast you talk!

Effective speakers talk at a pace that makes it easy for the audience to understand. As you practice, try recording yourself and listening back to your speech; you may be surprised by how fast you talk!

Public Speaking Tip 4: Volume

Pay attention to how loud or soft you are speaking. Effective speakers talk at a volume that makes it easy for the audience to hear what they’re saying but avoid shouting. It’s okay to vary your volume, too. (See Tip 5!)

Public Speaking Tip 5: Emphasis

Pay attention to what words you are emphasizing when you speak. Effective speakers draw attention to important words and phrases, which makes your speech more interesting and compelling! Be sure to slow down and emphasize your business name. 

Public Speaking Tip 6: Pausing

Pay attention to when you are taking a break to pause. Effective speakers take time to collect their thoughts and leave room for moments of quiet. It’s always okay to stop and take a breath as you need it, too. 

Effective speakers take time to collect their thoughts and leave room for moments of quiet. It's always okay to stop and take a breath as you need it, too. 

Public Speaking Tip 7: Active Listening

Effective speakers are also active listeners! Face the speaker and make eye contact, nod, and smile when appropriate to acknowledge what is being said. Resist the urge to interrupt!

Public Speaking Tip 8: Practice, Practice, Practice!

The best way to get used to implementing all of the public speaking tips above? Practice! This doesn’t have to be formal. Record yourself practicing on your phone or laptop, then watch it back and consider how you’ve applied the tips. Practice in front of family, friends, or the mirror! The more you practice, the easier public speaking becomes.

Public Speaking Tips for Virtual Presentations

Virtual Public Speaking Tip 1: Background

Pay attention to what is going on in your background. Effective speakers create a background setting that isn’t distracting. Even a plain wall can work as a perfect setting for viewers to focus on you and not your background!

Virtual Public Speaking Tip 2: Lighting

Poor lighting can make it hard for others to work on your message! Position yourself near a window or other light source so that your face is clearly lit. Avoid sitting with your back to a window, which can cause your image to become too dark to see. Test your lighting ahead of virtual presentations so you’re ready when it’s time!

See an example of a fantastic pitch with great lighting (and camera positioning):

Virtual Public Speaking Tip 3: Camera Positioning

Pay attention to what parts of you appear on screen. Make sure your entire face can be seen. (If you can, include your shoulders, too!) Elevate your device so the camera is eye level. Putting your laptop on top of a few books can do the trick.

Help your youth practice public speaking!

VentureLab's Live Virtual Youth Pitch Events provide a positive, encouraging space for youth ages 5-18 to share their business idea. Participation is free!

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