What Is a Public Speaking Skill? Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Public speaking abilities are important in most careers and are key to improving your confidence and presence in the workplace. For some careers, this skill allows employees to complete everyday duties, so it's important to understand how to improve your skills in public speaking. Understanding how to do this can help candidates advocate for their ideas and improve engagement, contributing to better confidence and overall development. In this article, we discuss public speaking, provide examples, share instructions on improving the skill, explain how to use it in the workplace and highlight ways to present them to employers.

What is a public speaking skill?

A public speaking skill is any quality that helps candidates maintain a positive presence, engage with their audience and communicate clearly to convey their ideas. These skills allow public speakers to transform a standard presentation into an engaging and exciting event for their guests. These skills are essential in the workplace, as candidates may host public speaking events such as presentations, conferences, trade shows or special events. Public speaking can refer to engaging with an audience you already know or speaking to hundreds of unknown individuals.

While public speaking is a skill, it comprises multiple communication skills that allow public speakers to connect with an audience. These skills calm the speaker, reduce boredom in the audience and ensure that they absorb the message of the speech. For roles where employees deliver regular speeches or presentations, such as project management roles, hiring managers may actively seek candidates with the best public speaking abilities to ensure they can perform under pressure. The following are some benefits of having good public speaking skills:

  • Increases audience engagement

  • Allows an audience to absorb a clear message

  • Boosts confidence

  • Enhances critical thinking and debate skills

  • Provides personal satisfaction

  • Presents opportunities to establish new social and networking opportunities

Related: 13 Types of Public Speaking Jobs (With Duties and Salaries)

Examples of public speaking skills

The following are some examples of the components of public speaking abilities:

Clear articulation

Clear articulation refers to the ability to communicate ideas coherently. This means ensuring that your message is clear to their audience. Clear articulation means that candidates omit filler language, such as 'um' or 'ah'. Filler language can dilute a message and confuse an audience, so deliver the key components of a speech without diverting from your presentation plan.

Related: How to Make a Presentation (With Detailed Steps and Tips)

Good presentation style

Presentation style is a key component of maintaining audience interest in your message. Presentation style can refer to how you present yourself and the methods you use to convey your information. A good presentation style involves using multiple presentation methods, such as speaking and using technology-based presentations like slideshows to convey information. This provides a more dynamic presentation and boosts audience engagement.

Related: 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)

Connecting with an audience

Good public speaking also encompasses the ability to connect with an audience. There are several ways to do this, including asking questions, implementing audience participation or using audience stories to further your point. Being able to connect with an audience allows you to personalise your presentation and encourages your audience to involve themselves. Connecting with an audience may also make your attendees more receptive and able to absorb your presentation's message.

Related: How to Build Self-Confidence (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Good presence

How public speakers hold themselves is a significant part of good public speaking. Presence refers to the speaker's personality and how they approach a public speaking event. Having a good presence means being confident, maintaining a professional appearance, interacting with the crowd and maintaining eye contact. A good way to improve your presence is to learn how to calm yourself. Nervousness before a public speaking event is normal. Use breathing techniques and focus on the message you want to convey to your audience.

Related: How to Advocate for Yourself at Work: A Complete Guide

How to improve public speaking skills

The following is a guide to improving your public speaking abilities:

1. Use body language

Body language can be a powerful tool in public speaking. As an example of non-verbal communication, body language can help you support your message with poise, confidence and stature. For example, if you're trying to sell a product to customers during an event, it's important to reflect confidence in your body language. Standing taller, relaxing your face, dropping your shoulders and maintaining eye contact helps you present yourself as confident and can increase your audience's engagement. The following are some tips for improving body language:

  • Try not to move restlessly.

  • Avoid fidgeting with your hands.

  • Align your facial expressions with the tone you're aiming for.

  • Slowly move around the stage or angle your body towards different parts of the audience.

  • Gesture with your hands.

Related: Improve Your Nonverbal Communication Skills

2. Try to connect with the audience

Connecting with the audience is key to public speaking success. Making them feel involved in the presentation process can make them more attentive and persuade them to engage with your message. The following are ways you can connect with your audience:

  • Use eye contact wisely, moving from person to person to connect with all attendees.

  • Use relatable stories and metaphors, focusing on using accessible language throughout.

  • Ask questions or involve audience engagement activities, such as asking for a show of hands or using interactive activities, such as games or audience participation.

Related: How to Start a Speech: 10 Effective Starting Suggestions

3. Use presentations wisely

The way you present your ideas has a significant impact on your overall success. If you're simply repeating words written on a screen, this can impact audience engagement levels. Consider using visual aids or personalising your presentation with a story or joke. These small details can involve your audience on a personal level and make your presentation more enjoyable.

Related: 7 Examples of Persuasion Skills (With Definitions)

4. Focus on delivery

When delivering your presentation, take constructive steps to improve your delivery to ensure the audience can understand your message. The following are ways you can improve your delivery:

  • Pause often and allow yourself time to breathe, giving the audience time to absorb your message.

  • Align the tone of your voice with your message and speak in different tones to avoid being monotonous.

  • Speak slowly and enunciate words to ensure your audience can understand you.

Public speaking skills in the workplace

Public speaking isn't just important for delivering speeches and presentations. Using good public speaking in the workplace is important to further your ideas and connect with your colleagues. The following are ways you can do this:

  • Use persuasive language. Using persuasive language when discussing a new product or project idea is a good way to develop your public speaking abilities. As public speakers typically aim to persuade their audience about something, consider using the same technique when interacting with your colleagues.

  • Advocate for your ideas clearly. Strengthening public speaking skills is a good way to advocate for yourself in the workplace. Advocating for yourself when negotiating contracts and pay raises or when interacting with your colleagues is important.

  • Focus on improving the clarity of communication. Communication is a central component in the workplace and helps to support productivity. Focus on improving your communication with colleagues to communicate tasks effectively and improve their confidence in your abilities.

Related: How to Measure Productivity in the Workplace: Complete Guide

How to highlight public speaking skills

The following are ways you can highlight public speaking abilities to hiring managers:

1. Public speaking skills for a resume and cover letter

If you're likely to take on public speaking duties in your new role, consider highlighting these skills on your resume. Mention public speaking as a skill category in your skills section or reference them in your professional summary. Cover letters allow you to go into greater depth about your public speaking abilities. Consider explaining your experiences with public speaking and describing what effects one of your presentations had on your audience.

Related: How to Write a Resume Summary With Examples

Public speaking skills for a job interview

It's important to explain your public speaking knowledge, skills and experience during an interview. This shows the hiring manager that you can deliver speeches and presentations. Focus on explaining the techniques you use to compose yourself and what effect this has on the audience and the overall presentation.

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