Tips for Speakers

Here are a few quick public speaking reminders, to ensure both you and your audience get the most out of your session!


Focus and structure your content 

The audience may be distracted because of their devices or greeting other attendees in the audience.  Tighten your structure, avoid tangents, and offer guideposts along the way to refocus attention. For example, “To recap, this part of the project…” and “The second goal….”

Limit words in your slides and what you do with them

Slides should augment your spoken presentation, not be your spoken presentation.  Keep the word count per slide minimal and use illustrations or images as much as possible. Dense, wordy slides do not work well generally and are too hard for the audience to read. This is not always possible when you have a more technical, “how‐to” presentation, but good to keep in mind.




Rehearsal is essential, even with prior presentation experience. A full rehearsal helps to identify where the presentation drags and which points should be sharpened.


Put energy and passion into your voice and body language. Invest every word with meaning and intention.

Pace yourself when speaking

Be conversational. Keep the pace brisk, but not rushed. Speak clearly and loudly and choose your words carefully. If you’re speaking from a script, a rehearsal or two will help you sound more conversational.

Face the audience

While speaking, don't turn to look at the screen, as it is likely behind you. Use your laptop as your guide, as turning away causes your voice to cut in and out, disrupting your connection with the audience.

Interact with your audience

Look at your audience. Try to make direct eye contact, but just looking around the room at peoeple shows you care about their interest.

Reserve time for Q&A after your presentation, or during if you prefer a more interactive session. If you are comfortable addressing questions during the presentation, indicate this ahead of time to your session chair and other speakers.

Another way to invite audience involvement is to use short poll questions in your presentation. This is a great way to get instant feedback on a topic that you can incorporate into your own comments. For example, if your session is about using interns, you might start the presentation by asking how many participants have an intern program or are thinking about starting an intern program. There are many free apps out there—ask the audience to download it several minutes prior to your first poll.



Arrive early

Please arrive 10-15 minutes early to confirm last-minute details with your panel and ensure that computers and projectors are working properly. This also allows you time to relax and prepare for the presentation.

Share your knowledge! 

You have something important to tell us.  Don’t forget: You’re presenting for a reason.

Have fun!

If you’re enjoying yourself, that comes through in your voice and keeps the audience engaged. Smile when you’re speaking – as silly and simple as it sounds; it’s proven that audiences can “hear” you smile.

For more tips, see 20 Public Speaking Tips of the Best TED Talks.

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