Public speaking is often framed as a skill where success is talked about in terms of tips, tricks, and secrets. This can become overwhelming and you may find yourself asking, “Which tips should I focus on?” or “Do these tricks work in all settings?” It may be more beneficial to reframe this.

What if we imagined ourselves as public speakers who adopt strategies — or critical success factors — that are essential to our goal: being an effective public speaker any place, any time. If the focus shifts from public speaking as a skill to viewing ourselves as public speakers, we strategize for success differently. Suddenly the question changes to, “What strategies work every time?”

10 Critical Success Factors for the Public Speaker

1. Audience-centeredness

Keep the audience in mind from beginning to end. The audience should impact the topic you choose, the goal of your message, your supporting materials, and how you deliver your speech. Above all, make it clear why what you are saying should be important to them and is relevant to their lives.

2. Message-centeredness

Make your message the center of your attentionFocus on the value of your message and the impact it could have. The best way to manage nerves is to stop making it about you — defuse those thoughts that wonder, “How do I look?” or “How am I doing?” Remove the pressure to prove yourself and instead, be passionate and authentic about conveying your message.

3. Organization

Give your speech a beginning, middle, and end. Create an outline and check to see if your points or ideas connect and have a clear purpose. Think of yourself as the guide that is giving directions to a destination and use order to make it easy on the audience to listen to you and comprehend your message.

4. Language

Choose descriptive and powerful words and avoid clichés. Stay away from overused expressions. You want your speech to be fresh and exciting, not stale or familiar. Incorporate metaphors, similes, parallelism, repetition, or alliteration to add emotion through language.

5. Storytelling

Tell at least one story — about you or someone else. Stories have the power to build trust, break down barriers, and plant ideas or emotions. We all love a good story. We love it even more when the speaker takes us on a momentary journey with descriptive and rich language. Make it personal, and utilize the story as a springboard to emphasize your main point.

6. Visual Aids

Provide your audience with a visual message. By communicating your message visually, you will gain interest, leave an impression, and allow audience members to better grasp and retain your message. Get creative and stop leaning entirely on PowerPoints or Google Slides. Think of objects, models, photographs, charts, short video clips, or a physical demonstration.

7. Rehearsals

Rehearse even if it feels tedious. If you are a beginner, rehearse, rehearse, rehearsePersons who speak for a living need only practice three times the number of minutes of their speech, as in a 30-minute speech means 90-minutes of practicing. The majority of persons should rehearse their speech out loud with visuals several times over. It is in fact true that practice makes perfect, however, very few people put in enough practice.

8. Delivery

Use a strong voice and stand with confidence. Concentrate on how to use your body posture and movement, as well as your voice, to appear competent and passionate. Play around with volume, pauses, vocal variety, and how fast you speak. Your goal is to look, sound, and be compelling.

9. Persuasion

Encourage a small movement in opinion and/or action rather than a giant leap. As a persuasive speaker, you are inviting the audience to consider an idea and a subsequent call to action. Give your listeners the tools to put things together in their own minds by showcasing your credibility, appealing to their emotions, and involving their intellect with data or proof. Persuasion is a delicate art, but its approach dates back 2,000 years and remains effective.

10. Roots

Ground yourself with support and fuel your passion. Amanda Hennessey gave some great advice in her book when she instructed public speakers to “Think Like a Tree.” Her insight strikes at something most speakers forget — that their confidence grows with support and passion. Persons who surround themselves with others who sit and listen to the rehearsals, provide feedback, and clap loudly stay encouraged to keep speaking. In addition, persons who feed on research and participate in conversations surrounding their message of choice are reminded over and over again of why they choose to face their fears and speak in public.


Date: 30 Jun 2024
Day: Sunday