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15 August 2017

Three golden principles to master the art of public speaking and presenting

Whether you’re pitching for business, dealing with a crisis or thanking your team for their hard work, the ability to speak confidently in front of others is an important business and leadership skill - so important, that the internet is awash with hints, tips and do’s and don’ts that promise to make you a brilliant speaker.

In the heat of the moment however, when you’re about to speak, it’s sometimes hard to remember all the advice that’s out there. In this blog, award winning presenter and author of Insider Secrets of Public Speaking.  Nadine Dereza shares her Three Golden Principles for successful presenting:

Nadine Dereza, award winning presenter and author of Insider Secrets of Public Speaking

 1. Authority

The audience is listening to you, so be in charge. Be credible, feel comfortable and own the room. Know more about the subject than you have put in your speech and be at ease with the subject matter. You are an expert on the topic, and your opinion matters. 

Audiences like to be guided. If it gradually dawns on them that you’re nervous, they will start to worry about you and stop listening.

Public speaking is an act of leadership, and if you lack authority on stage, the audience will assume you lack authority off stage too. Your job as speaker is to focus on delivering the key messages that the audience needs to hear, and one of the most effective ways of dealing with nerves is to really know your subject.

Part of being authoritative is being in control of your performance space, and arriving early to check the slides and video footage are all working and do a sound check if you are using a microphone, will help bolster your confidence - there is nothing worse than unexpected feedback from a microphone or a rogue PowerPoint slide.


Nadine Dereza a guest speaker at the Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Brilliant Brands event hosted by the Business & IP Centre, held at the British Library

 2. Authenticity

Be the best version of yourself, rather than a second-rate copy of someone else. Audiences like to feel that they’ve been let in to see the ‘real’ you. Get rid of the idea that to be a ‘good speaker’ you have to deploy ‘tricks’: good speakers are, above all, themselves.

What do people like about you? What are the qualities that attract people to you? Play to your strengths rather than worrying about your weaknesses.

We all have unconscious habits that we adopt when under pressure, and if your presentation has been recorded, you should review footage of yourself. You’ll catch any distracting hair touching and shuffling from side-to-side that you do without thinking about it. Watching a replay will teach you a lot about yourself.  

If you really do suffer from nerves, shift the focus from yourself, and turn that nervous energy into enthusiasm for delivering your speech.

Nadine Dereza, conducting at talk at an event

3. Audience

The audience is the most important part of any speech or presentation. Give the audience information in a way that is useful to them. It’s really not about you.  

You won’t please everyone all the time, but think about who you are talking to, and what sort of information they need, be it facts, a personal story, inspiration or a heartfelt thank you.

Audiences are not passive: they are either actively engaged or they are turned off. Be conscious of this, and if you sense they’re not engaged, turn the speech into a conversation that draws people in, have a few anecdotes or statistics that will help you achieve this.

 Audiences respond well to a speaker who is having a good time: with authority and authenticity, it gives you that indefinable ‘something’ that says ‘I should be here speaking in front of you’.

 Try and try again

Wherever you are speaking and whatever you are speaking about, try to feel satisfied with what you have done. If you don’t, ask why not - and think about what you could do differently next time.

Follow these Three Golden Principles and your speech will be remembered, talked about and possibly acted on, for all the right reasons.

Nadine Dereza is an award winning journalist, experienced business presenter, conference host and co-author of the book Insider Secrets of Public Speaking. She has presented for CNN, BBC, Sky TV, SABC, Global Business TV, Simply Money and Associated Press. As London Markets Correspondent for the Financial Times and Summit TV, she was awarded ‘Financial Journalist of the Year’. Nadine chairs, moderates and speaks at conferences and live events for a diverse range of clients across many industries and sectors in the UK and abroad. And through her company PS Programmes Nadine delivers coaching programmes to individuals and teams, which include presentation skills, media training and crisis media management training.

For more advice about how to speak and present to inspire, motivate and influence an audience and other business related support why not come along to one of our events or workshops at the The British Library Business & IP Centre.