How To Be A Confident Public Speaker

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Written by Henry Dalziel

Imagine Everyone Naked

You’ve likely heard that one before, or perhaps you’ve heard of speaking with pebbles in your mouth like Demosthenes.

However, there’s more advice to give than just those old adages.

Public speaking is a skill that everyone can master: and that’s the good news.

Be Confident Be Honest

Just to tell someone to “break a leg” and go out there and perform by being confident certainly is a correct approach, but we’d suggest that an even more effective way to be an excellent public speaker is to just be honest. Being honest is so much easier than lying and I doubt that anyone reading this can disagree with that.

Speaking from the heart, being honest and being yourself are certainly the most important attributes anyone can deploy when being on stage and delivering a talk or presentation.

Tips ‘n Tricks To Make You A Better Public Speaker

#1 Remember that everyone is the same. We all have bills to pay, worries, concerns, successes, insecurities, great things about ourselves and a bunch of shitty ones too. What’s the point I’m making? Try not to get all wound up over stuff which you really needn’t get stressed over.

#2 Start with a bang and the rest will follow.

 “…free your mind and your ass will follow…” [Platoon, 1986]

Take the edge off by making sure that the first ten seconds of your speech is something pretty darn cool or interesting. Why? Because the audience will be instantly charmed by you and you’ll make them relaxed – and the rest will follow.

#3 Start by saying nothing.

Yes, that’s an odd one but think about it. Give yourself some respect.

“…Paulie may have moved slow, but it was only because Paulie didn’t have to move for anybody…”
Henry Hill, GoodFellas

Just walk up to the podium with a slight stagger and you’ll find that your body language will help you and the audience to respect your presence on stage. Don’t rush onto the stage all nervously and immediately start speaking, instead, take your time. Walking up to the stage in a calm and concise manner portrays someone who believes in themselves and therefore has something of value to say.

It might be somewhat of a mind-hack but the benefit of taking your time also relaxes yourself pre-intro.

#4 You’ve got a lot more time than you realize. Talk fast like a car-salesman and no-one will trust you. Talk nice ‘n real slow and you’ll be just fine. Seriously: just take a step back and relax and let each sentence have a meaning.

#5 Plan. Plan again and then plan some more. Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Anyone who knows anything about the British Army (the author of this post is British) will have heard this now famous acronym as described in Bravo Two Zero. The thing is though, that the 7 P’s, as it is affectionately known by squaddies, is actually spot-on and highly relevant in this discussion on how to become a better public speaker.

Planning the content that you’re going to deliver is gold and will help you structure your main points in a confident and understandable format.

The above is particularly true when public speaking at Cybersecurity Conferences. Why? Because the content needs to be completely on-point.

#6 Speak to the mirror.


Talk to the mirror. Although it might make you feel a little weird to start it’s a fantastic idea to get your body language squared away. Maybe raise your hands at a certain time, or make a specific gesture at a specific point in a key sentence and you’ll likely emphasise a key-point in your presentation which will win over the audience.

#7 If your gran doesn’t get it then no one will. OK, so if you’re speaking at a cryptography event or at a BSides Conference then you’ll be in front of a, very likely, a savvy audience, so needless to say, especially within the Cybersecurity Conference remit, you’d better bone up on your fact-checking.

#8 Confidence breeds confidence. Just be brave and put yourself out there. The fact that you are and have the audience wouldn’t have the courage to do so already speaks volumes about your character.

In Summary

I guess you can call these more ‘mind-hacks’ than actual practical advice, but in any event, we hope that we’ve helped to some capacity of other your ability to perform better at public speaking.

If you agree or disagree with the above please chime in with your thoughts and comments.

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