lessons in etiquette

Speech Etiquette


Speaking in public can be a challenging experience for many of us.  Below are some etiquette tips for making a speech at a public event go smoothly and present the topic with ease and confidence.

Step 1: Approach the podium confidently and put your notes in a place where you can easily see them.

Step 2: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart to help you keep your balance. Look at the audience, pause and then begin speaking. If there is no microphone, project from your diaphragm, not your throat.

Step 3: Set the tone in your introduction with appropriate facial expressions, diction and a specific mood. Unless you are a comedian, do not open with a joke. Instead, open with a story – everybody loves stories.

Step 4: Make eye contact with people in different parts of the audience, including the back row.

Step 5: Pause briefly after you state your key points to allow the audience time to absorb the information. Use natural and relaxed hand gestures and facial expressions to emphasise certain points.

Step 6: Pronounce your words clearly and vary your rate, pitch and volume to keep your delivery lively.

Step 7: Refresh your memory by periodically glancing at your notes, but avoid reading from your notes directly.

Step 8: Close your speech by thanking the audience and then confidently exit the stage.


  • Stick with what you know
  • Never talk about something that is unfamiliar to you
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Speech Fillers
  • Fillers are words and phrases such as “umm,” “well,” “it is sort-a-like,” “it’s kind-a like.” These take away from the message you want to convey. Some of the words and phrases to eliminate include: “you know,” “I think,” “I’m sorry,” “just,” “but,” “should,” “like,” “um,” and “a,” etc.
  • Pace Yourself
  • Do not talk too fast or too slow. If you stumble on a word it’s a sign you should slow down.
  • Prepare Clear Notes
  • If you are hand writing your notes make them easy to read by writing them in large neat letters

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