10 Helpful Online Resources for Improving Public Speaking Skills

Public speaking ranks as one of the top phobias for Americans however it is one of the most essential skills for grad students to master. Whether it is giving presentations for colleagues in your department or at a national conference, teaching in front of undergrads, or giving a job talk, public speaking is a critical skill for grad students to practice and master.  This article recommends ten articles, videos, and podcasts that provide tips and advice to help you reduce your anxiety and become a better presenter.

This post was contributed by Charles Sipe, Executive Editor for Teacher Certification Degrees, a career site with dozens of interviews with current teachers and helpful teacher career resources.


1.“Giving an Academic Talk”

Written by Jonathan Shewchuk, a Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley, this piece emphasizes the importance of using image-rich and text-minimal slides. He goes on to cover the differences between the clew and onion models of content presentation, rhythms of speech and the pause that refreshes, proper prop usage, and a slew of examples of common public speaking errors.


2.“Everything I Know About Presentations, I Learned in Theatre School”

Approaching public speaking through the lens of the theater is how Darren Barefoot advocates improving one’s public speaking skills. In this article, Mr. Barefoot suggests framing the content of a speech in stories, anecdotes and metaphors in an effort to keep an audience riveted. By embracing the skills employed by actors on stage, from costumes and set-design to speech tempo and the narrative arc, the tips in this article can make your next speech an Oscar-winning performance.


3.Scott Berkun Talk at Google (Video)

In a public pitch for his book “Confessions of a Public Speaker,” Scott Berkun describes the evolutionary origins of public speaking fears, modifying factors in your environment that are within your control, presentation practice as a form of respect for your audience’s time, tricks for sparking interest, and the importance of a 5-7 minute rhythm.


4.Toastmasters International Articles

Long a respected authority on public speaking, Toastmasters International offers a wealth of information on its website pertaining to improving your oratory skills. This page presents a number of articles ranging from how to deal with a distracted audience and capturing imaginations through story telling, to the importance of your speech title and a sprinkling of humor to keep an audience captivated.


5.The Toastmasters Podcast

Hosted by Bo Bennett and Ryan Levesque, this regular podcast covers all things related to public speaking. With over 63 episodes produced over the course of four years, Bennett and Levesque regularly interview prominent public speakers on their podcast. Topics include addressing stage fright, conversation skills at parties, intercultural communication, and how to overcome objections. The episodes can be subscribed to on iTunes or can be listened to à la carte on the website.

6.“Public Speaking Tips”

Capitalizing upon its science and mathematics reputation, MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities program delivers a formula for controlling your public speaking variables to achieve success. This comprehensive overview of strategies for improved elocution encompasses everything from avoiding dairy products that coagulate around the vocal cords, to mapping the content of your speech. Pre-presentation planning takes center stage in this article as a measure to avoid panicking in the spotlight.


7.10 Public Speaking Tips for Introverts

As the author of “QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” Susan Cain provides the reader with sage advice on public speaking that ranges from videotaping a rehearsal speech to studying the methods of other successful public speakers. She also advocates keeping a regular video blog, smiling at listeners both before and during a performance, and role-playing during a speech as a means of removing inhibitions.


8.“32 Public Speaking Tips From Some Of The World’s Best Speakers and Coaches”

This article, presented by the Speaker’s Life blog, cobbles together advice from some of the world’s top public speaking experts and delivers it in an easy-to-consume style. This compilation of one or two-line pearls of wisdom allows readers to contemplate each idea at their own pace.


9.“How to Get a Standing Ovation”

Best-selling author Guy Kawasaki presents the secret to his public speaking success on his blog. With over 26 years of experience, Guy recommends overdressing, focusing on something interesting to say, speaking at the start of an event, and pre-circulating with the audience. As the former Chief Evangelist for Apple and the author of numerous books, Guy presents some hard-earned advice inside this blog article.


10.“Public Speaking – How I Prepare Every Time”

By focusing on being a teacher on stage and not a public speaker, Tim Ferris, author of “The Four Hour Workweek,” is able to ensure that his message gets across to his audience. In this article from his blog, Tim advocates drinking a copious amount of Diet Coke before a speech and using a methodical approach to rehearsal. The core ingredient of his speeches, a Point-Example-Point (PEP) format, is explored in detail.



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