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10 Best Public Speaking Hacks That Experts Use

Use these when you're gearing up for a big presentation or speech.

For some, just the idea of public speaking is enough to send them into a panic. But for others, speaking in front of a crowd is a breeze: These people are natural orators—cool, calm, and collected. They can get their points across without stumbling or constantly looking at flashcards. But while those in the latter camp may have a knack for storytelling, they also have some tricks of the trade that they employ when they get behind a podium or hit the stage—and you can use them, too. Read on for 10 public speaking hacks to boost your skills.

RELATED: 8 Daily Affirmations to Send Your Confidence Skyrocketing.

Look at foreheads.

man practicing his speech with small group
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One of the biggest concerns when public speaking is keeping your audience's attention. Eye contact is an essential aspect of this, but it can be tricky and difficult to maintain, which is why Beth Ribarsky, PhD, professor and director of the School of Communication and Media at the University of Illinois Springfield, suggests focusing on foreheads.

"Eye contact can ramp up people's nerves, making them forget what they were even talking about," she says. "However, one of the simplest tips of the trade is to look at people's foreheads vs. into their eyes. Typically, speakers are far enough away from their audience that this slight difference in where you're looking is imperceivable to the audience."

Pick a power pose.

woman presenter giving a speech
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Another expert tip to ramp up your confidence while public speaking is selecting a "power pose."

"The adoption of power poses—expansive, confident postures that convey strength and authority—can significantly influence one's psychological state and demeanor," Nneka Vivienne Onwuachu, transformational coach and founder of the blog Vivi's Cosy Corner, shares. "Standing tall, with shoulders back and chest open, can trick your brain into feeling more powerful and self-assured."

If you feel comfortable, you can also take this tip "to the next level" and ask your audience to pick their own power pose when you start speaking, Alexandria Agresta, TEDx speaker, DJing speaker, and leadership development expert, suggests.

According to Agresta, this exercise can effectively "transfer confidence and get powerful energy flowing through the room."

RELATED: How to Ace Every Common Job Interview Question.

Practice desensitization techniques.

woman giving speech at the office
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Ribarsky, who is the co-author of the textbook Activate Your Superpower: Creating Compelling Communication, also recommends using desensitization techniques to help you get used to public speaking. This can be particularly helpful if you have a fear of public speaking.

"When we teach public speaking, we start out with short and low-stakes speeches to help get students used to being in front of an audience. As the course progresses, we incorporate progressively longer and more intricate presentations," Ribarsky explains. "So, take advantage of any opportunity you might have to practice your presentation or generally just speaking in front of an audience. As our brains learn that we are not going to die being in front of an audience, we begin to build our confidence."

Speak in one-liners.

woman speaking to group using poster
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Once you know what you need to be focusing on, you want to ensure you get your message across. To do so, Agresta recommends breaking your content up into phrases that will stick with your audience.

"Speaking in one-liners involves distilling complex information into simple, impactful, and 'punchy' statements that resonate with the audience," she says. "Experts use this technique to capture attention, convey key points, and leave a lasting impression by saying something that is memorable."

She continues, "For example, one of my go-to's and fan favorites that then developed in my TEDx talk is, 'Things don't take time; they take courage.'"

Meet your audience where they are.

young man public speaking
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While the scarier aspect of public speaking is arguably having to give the speech or presentation, you also need to think about the content itself.

"Understanding what your audience needs to hear is crucial to developing a talk, panel discussion, or workshop that supports them," Randi Levin, transitional life strategist and founder of Randi Levin Coaching, says. "Always ask your organizer that very question: 'What does your group need to hear?'"

Speak and breathe from your abdomen.

woman practicing breathing
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One surefire way to lose an audience is by mumbling or speaking so softly you can't be heard. If your venue provides a microphone, that can help, but you'll want to be sure that you can be heard even without that assistance.

To help with this, Ribarsky recommends breathing and speaking from your abdomen as opposed to your throat or nose.

"Lay on the floor and place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a breath—what moves more? Begin to focus on breathing from your belly—and begin to practice speaking from your belly," she advises.

RELATED: The Power of Positive Self-Talk: 4 Science-Backed Reasons Affirmations Work.

Watch yourself.

woman practicing speech in the mirror
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Experts, of course, emphasize the need to practice public speaking. But before you get in front of even a small audience, consider watching yourself in the mirror.

"Not only does this help mimic eye contact (albeit with yourself), but you also get a better idea of what your face and body might be doing," Ribarsky notes.

Even better, however, is recording yourself so you can watch the footage back.

"We all have mini recording devices in our pockets nowadays, so take advantage of this great tool! I understand that it may be painful to watch the recording as we all generally dislike the sound of our own voice, but recordings often show us things we may not know we're doing, such as swaying, fidgeting, saying 'um,' etc.," Ribarsky says.

On that note, remember to be kind to yourself!

"Self-compassion can help reduce self-criticism, recognize that mistakes are a natural part of learning, reduce performance nerves, validate and acknowledge our emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them (which is really beneficial in high-pressure speaking situations), and increase our motivation to grow in new ways," says Phoebe Jenkins, mental health and fitness coach at Headspace.

Hydrate and cut back on caffeine.

Older woman drinking water

In order to keep your volume and articulation where they need to be, you need to ensure that you're properly hydrated. While you can obviously up your water intake, you'll also want to cut back on anything that has too much caffeine.

"When we are dehydrated, we naturally get cottonmouth, which makes it even harder to articulate appropriately," Ribarsky explains. "This also means avoiding too much caffeine (which also can add to our nervous energy)."

RELATED: 7 Simple Steps to Boost Your Productivity Instantly.

Seek feedback ahead of time.

man speaking to team of employees
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When you're ready to move beyond your mirror practice and self-tapes, experts recommend getting in front of a group of people you trust and asking them to provide feedback.

"Mastery of public speaking requires deliberate, structured consistent practice coupled with constructive feedback from mentors, peers, or coaches," Onwuachu shares. "Embracing feedback as a catalyst for growth fosters continuous learning and development, ultimately leading to greater confidence and proficiency in public speaking."

According to Jenkins, these people can also provide support and encouragement while you're getting ready for any kind of public speaking event.

Practice mindfulness.

Man meditating on bed before going to sleep.

Meditation and other mindfulness techniques are challenging for many of us, but experts—and data—show that it really can help with any sort of public speaking.

"Research has shown that mindfulness interventions can significantly reduce levels of anxiousness and stress, and researchers from Brown University specifically found that mindfulness helped participants reduce anticipatory stress before giving a speech and recover much faster from stress post-public speaking," Jenkins says.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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