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Public Speaking – Preparation Part 1

According to a survey by the Sunday Times, 41% of people list public speaking as their biggest fear. Forget small spaces, darkness, and spiders – standing up in front of a crowd and talking is far more terrifying for most people.

However, mastering this fear and getting comfortable speaking in public can be a great ego booster, not to mention a huge benefit to your career. These blogs will give you some valuable public speaking tips. For achieving maximum benefit, we also recommend attending a vital spark presentation workshop.

Identifying Your Audience

The key to effective public speaking is preparation. The better you prepare, the more confident you will feel.

Preparation begins with identifying your audience. What do you know about your audience? What do they care about? What’s important to them? Do they have any misconceptions about your topic? These are the kinds of questions you should ask as part of your preparation. Write down these questions and your answers to them. You will then have a basic structure for your speech, which you can build on by adding and removing items as you see fit.

Holding the attention of an audience, identifying and speaking to what interests them, is the most important thing about any public speech. It is not merely about what you say but also how you say it. If you have a message you wish to get across, think of how that message will communicate itself best to the audience you are speaking to. 

Performing a Needs Analysis

Preparing for a speech should begin with thinking about the wants and needs of the audience. What are they interested in? What do they care about? No matter how entertaining a speaker you are, people will not give you their full attention unless you are talking about something that is meaningful to them.

Let the audience know early in your speech that you are going to try to address their concerns. Too often a speaker starts out with a lengthy discussion about the history or background of a topic. That is usually not what the audience cares about! They want to know how this topic will affect their lives.

A needs analysis measures what skills employees have — and what they need.  It indicates how to deliver the right training at the right time.  The results answer the following questions:

The method can be by simple observation, careful note taking and asking questions.

Creating an Audience Profile

Registers of Language

One of the most important elements of written or spoken language is the register in which it is delivered. Experts say that there are three registers of language; R1, R2, and R3.

R1 is the level of language used most commonly by politicians or lawyers and found in the upper-market range of newspapers.

R2 is the register most commonly used by people in everyday conversation with acquaintances and people they have just met (outside a framework of formality).

R3 is the register that may be used between close friends and is heavily based in slang. Considering how educated your audience is, and how formal you wish the speech to be, will govern the choice of register.

The audience’s familiarity with an interest in the topic will also be of importance. You may be seeking to educate your audience on the topic in hand, or to communicate your own ideas to an audience who is already familiar with the topic. Deciding between these will help shape your speech – if they are familiar with the topic then it does not hurt to include some jargon, as this may even make your speech that little bit more dynamic. If you don’t need to keep explaining things, you can communicate ideas more effectively.

The mood and opinion of your audience is also important. It will influence the tone and content of your speech. A nervous or worried audience will require an element of comfort or reassurance, while a celebratory audience will want to share a positive, electric atmosphere and possibly hear some congratulations.

One person speaking to a large crowd is in a unique position – they have the attention of many people and the power to get ideas across that will change mindsets and behaviour on a large scale. It is therefore important to consider your phrasing and ensure you correct any persistent misconceptions that you are aware of.

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