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10 top preparation tips for public speaking

Do you have a pre-presentation routine? Most of the best speakers do – so why not you? 

When you prepare yourself both physically and mentally you are so much more likely to deliver your best stuff – and who wouldn’t want to do that? 

Here are a few tips to help you. You might want to use all or some of them, depending on the presentation itself, the situation and who is in the audience. 

  1. Arrive with enough time to check out exactly where you will be presenting before your audience arrives. Where possible, stand where you will be standing to get a feel of what it will be like when your audience is in front of you.

You may even want to go through parts of your presentation in your mind, to consider what movement you need to make in order to reach the room, i.e., will you need to walk from one side of the stage or floor so that everyone can see you, or will it be better to stay central. 


For a virtual presentation, go onto the platform ahead of time if you can, to check how you and your background are going to look, and do a tech run if using slides or other effects. 

  1. Whilst it can be a good thing to chat with your audience ahead of your presentation, you will need to weigh that up with the benefit of taking yourself away from the group for a while to go through your warm-up routine. If necessary, this can be done in a loo cubicle but probably better to find a quiet corner. 
  1. Start with some breathing. Take in deep breaths, going through your lungs and right down into your stomach, and then breathing out in reverse order. Do this at least 5 times. This slows everything down and reduces any anxiety.
  1. Warm-up your voice. Say ‘Aaaahh’ sliding from the lowest notes you can reach to the highest, and back again. Practice producing your voice from your chest, throat and mouth, just to feel the difference. Sing some scales, if you can. Practise going from a whisper to producing a louder sound. 
  1. Exercise your facial muscles and lips. Make faces with your lips; smile; stretch your mouth open; purse your lips, etc. Go through all the different vowel sounds. Sing or say a song or sequence of words that exercises your diction, e.g. ‘red lorry, yellow lorry’ or ‘she sells seashells on the seashore.’ 
  1. Close your eyes, raise your head and smile. Raise your arms in a ‘Y’ shape; hold that for a few seconds, while you go back to that image in no. 1 of you on the stage, ready to speak. 
  1. Still with your head up and the smile on your face do a quick run-through in your head of what you’re going to say. Where there isn’t time for the whole thing, go through your opening and your closing. 
  1. More breathing – telling yourself ‘I can do this. I’m going to be great.’ If you have to be in the room immediately before you’re due to speak, you can do this from your seat just before your turn. 
  1. If you’re standing to one side before taking your position, imagine that you’re about to walk through a doorway or archway, and on the other side of that doorway or archway you’re going to step into your confident version of yourself.
  1. Once in position to speak, take a couple of seconds to ground yourself before you start speaking. 

If you’ve found these tips useful you’ll probably also like the rest of the series of 10 Top Tips. You can download them now here.


Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and speaker coach and professional speaker.

She has been in the world of competent communication, in different guises, for more than 30 years so has a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise to pass on to her clients, both through her signature programmes and her own presentations.

You can find out more about her coaching programmes here and about her speaking topics here.


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