Public Speaking – How to KEEP IMPROVING

This is an AI generated transcript so please forgive any errors and spelling mistakes. 

Are you making a concerted effort to improve your speaking every single time you’re on stage? If you’re one of those people then stay tuned keep watching, because what I want to do is share with you some questions that you can ask yourself. And a routine that you can follow that will help you improve your speaking step by step by step by step.

First let me say a quick hello, I’m Shola public speaking coach and professional speaker based in London. I’ve got clients around the world and I typically work with organisations who are preparing their speakers for big conferences or for high-stakes meetings. I also work with individuals who want to boost their career or build their business with speaking.

Are you through a person that continually wants to improve at whatever it is that you do, speaking being one of those things? If so, then I’m going to share a little step by step process you can use to regularly improve your public speaking.

Public Speaking – use video to develop your speaking skills

Now, of course the absolute first thing that you’ve got to do is make sure that you are speaking regularly. There’s no substitute for getting in front of an audience, even if it’s an audience of your friends, as you lead up to your big speaking opportunity. But speaking in front of an audience is not the same as speaking at the home in front of a mirror or speaking the speech in your head, so actually just rehearsing in your mind. You’ve got to be doing it out loud in front of real people.

One way that you can keep improving your speaking is by videoing yourself every time you speak. I know a lot of people don’t enjoy watching themselves back. They don’t enjoy hearing themselves. They don’t enjoy seeing themselves. But you’ve got to see what the audience sees so that you can learn how you need to change, what you need to improve to get to the next level.

So I definitely advocate videoing every single speaking performance that you have. Even if it’s just on a regular mobile phone, it doesn’t matter. Just the fact that you’ve got it there that you could have a look at is what’s important. I would also recommend that you don’t video yourself in portrait mode but instead you always video yourself landscape.

Now, obviously the advantage of using portrait is that you get your entire body into the shot (obviously depending whether where it’s being filmed from). The advantage of having it landscape is that you are seen in relation to your entire environment, the stage environment. If you’re being shot portrayed pretty much all that’s going to be shown of you is your body, so we don’t see are you in the centre of the stage.

Are you using the space wisely when you move up and down along the stage when you’re speaking? Are you doing that in a measured way? Because the camera has to follow you all the time right if it’s in portrait mode, whereas if it’s in landscape the camera can be kept still, and we see you in all your glory as you move around the stage and we really see how you interact with the space.

So that’s the first tip that I would share is always to use landscape. Of course, if you’re using the footage for Instagram, obviously Instagram is square or it’s portrait, fair enough. But if it’s going to be used for some other purpose make sure that you instruct the videographer, the camera person, to use a landscape.

Public Speaking – how to analyse your speech well

That aside, the next thing is once you’ve got the video what should you be asking yourself as you watch the video through? What should you be looking out for? So what I’m going to do is I’ll grab my book How to be a D.I.V.A. at public speaking and there’s a section in the book on it’s called Showtime and Beyond.

In that chapter I talk about what to do once you’ve done a gig and have to analyse it. In in the section on post gig analysis there’s also what to look for in your video. I’m going to read a few of these questions out to you now and you can take a note of these. Next time you record yourself ask yourself these questions when you’re playing it back:

  • First of all, how was your posture your stage movement and your delivery? Did you use the stage fully? Maybe you didn’t want to and that’s fine. Maybe you decided you would stand still and be planted and grounded in a particular place. Whether you chose to move a lot or not, did it work? Was there a time when you thought “oh, gosh I wish I’d moved around a bit more”. Or did it work that you were very focused and still?
  • What about your posture? Were you hunched over? Were you standing up tall? Look at that. And in addition, your delivery. Were you using gestures? Were you gesturing from the elbows, sort of like this? Or were you using the whole of your body and getting your hands above your head? Or its shoulder level? No right or wrong necessarily for that particular presentation, but check out what you were doing.
  • For example, I had to sing at a somebody’s funeral a few months ago. The kind of performance that I would give at a funeral it’s gonna be very different than if I’m performing in front of a bunch of people at a corporate event where they’re all having a great time. So, I don’t let you think there’s a particular right or wrong in terms of how you gesticulate. It has to be appropriate for the situation. If you’re delivering a eulogy and you’re there pumping the air and with your hands outstretched that may not be appropriate. There’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all here.
  • OK, next question. Was there sufficient vocal variety? Did you sound like one of Doctor Who’s Daleks with not much vocal variety at all? Or did you allow yourself to be a little bit more expressive. Again, look at that.
  • How about eye contact? Could you see yourself with your eyes moving around the audience and locking on to certain members? Or were you doing again the sort Dalek gaze or like a lighthouse just gazing back and forth? Or were you just looking at one person the whole time? Were you’re not making eye contact at all and you were either looking down at notes on a lectern or maybe you were in your head the whole time accessing content and then you didn’t make any eye contact? Assess yourself for that too.
  • The pace. Was the pace comfortable? Did you go too fast or too slow? Could you make out every single word that you said?
  • Moving on from there, did the presentation seem to flow or were there clunky sections that felt a bit uncomfortable? Did you have smooth transitions from one section of your presentation to the next?
  • Did people seem engaged? Did they raise their hands in response to your questions? Did they laugh when you made a little joke or made a humorous reference? Did they participate in the Q&A? Or did they seem like they just wanted to run out of the room? All of this gives you an indicator as to how engaged the audience were and how appropriate your content was for that audience.
  • Next question, how much did you leave out? Did you forget huge chunks of your presentation? It’s quite normal to leave out bits and pieces, but did you leave out anything that was absolutely vital? And if so, can you make sure that you include that the next time? So can you earmark that section to get a bit of extra practice so that for sure the next time you include it.
  • And then in general, were you happy over all with the presentation? It might be that you improved significantly over the last time you spoke, right? And therefore even though it’s not perfect (and it typically will never be perfect) but even though it’s not at the high standard you are wanting, perhaps it’s significantly better than last time. So you feel happy and deservedly you give yourself a pat on the back.

Public Speaking – the most important question to ask yourself

What do you need to work on for next time? And that’s the important thing if you need to keep growing and getting better, then what do you need to work on for next time? Can you keep a note of that in a document or in a spreadsheet or somewhere so that every single time you speak you’ve got a note for next time? “OK, I need to work on this this and this” so that you keep growing, keep improving, keep getting better and better and better.

So that’s it from me. If you are interested in grabbing a hold of a copy of my book How to be a D.I.V.A. at public speaking it’s available on Amazon. I think I have a copy available on my website too and you can download it as a PDF. These questions came from chapter… lots of pages there… it’s a chapter that’s called Showtime and Beyond… chapter 11.

There’s a whole section there on how to analyze your speech and how to keep improving. Even if you don’t want to get the book not a problem (no pressure from me!) but maybe you want to note down those questions. Remember to take your video in landscape mode rather than portraits and so that you can see yourself interacting with the background as well with the scenery and the staging.

I want you to keep growing and keep learning and getting better at your public speaking.

That’s it for me. Take care and I will see you next time. Bye!


P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you improve your speaking or grow your business:

1 – Get my free guide – 5 frameworks to ace a short speech.

Create a speech stress-free and fast. Make it work every time.

2 – Connect with me on LinkedIn.

3 – Do you need a speaking workshop or communication seminar for your organisation? Get in touch.

4 – Looking for an engaging speaker for your next event? Find out more.