3 Tips on Public Speaking from the Experts

Improving your ability to deliver the often-intimidating media interview or public statement

According to Psychology Today, people are more afraid of public speaking than death. I see you nodding your heads out there, and to be honest when I first started practicing the skill I felt the same. While it’s perfectly fine to sweat having to speak in public or to the press, if you’re the one tasked with representing your organization in a tough situation you can’t let it show.

Try these 3 tips on public speaking from Bernstein Crisis Management media training experts:

  1. Have a plan. Even the best speakers are going to have a bad time if they go into an interview and wing it. Know what you want your audience to come away remembering and how you’ll get them there. Remember they may not believe you on reputation alone and that you’ll need actual facts, figures, or outside opinions to support your points.
  2. Avoid repeating negatives. A classic trap those facing tough questions fall into is repeating the negative. If someone asks, “Why did your company choose to lay off 800 employees?”, the last thing you want to answer with is, “We chose to lay off 800 employees because…”. Consider how to rephrase answers to predictable questions before the interview so you’re ready.
  3. Remember compassion. This is the single element missing in most speakers during crisis. Unfortunately, tough times are when you need it most. Make sure people know you understand why they’re upset, scared, or angry. Until you can convince them you “get it” most audiences simply won’t listen, or even worse will actively rally against anything you say.

Perhaps the most important tip of all is that being good at delivering media interviews or public speaking takes PRACTICE! Grab a friend, colleague, family member, or even a handy phone and mirror to do some recording. It will be some combination of embarrassing and scary to start, but that’s OK. Keep at it and you’ll quickly gain confidence in this much-needed (and often-overlooked) crisis management skill.

Erik Bernstein

Connect with Erik on LinkedIn!


Comments 2

  1. andy michael

    Great tips!

    Personally, I find meditation super helpful.

    Sounds corny?


    What I do is around 10 min of meditation few days a week, mainly focusing on box breathing technique – breathing in 5 seconds, hold 5 seconds, breath out 5 and hold for 5.

    Here’s how it affects your state:

    The first part is to be more aware of your pulse, doing exercises like these will automatically make you more aware. The second is to start doing the same breathing exercise when your pulse goes high.

    Lowering your pulse and being calm helps to keep track and not wonder too much while speaking.

    At least, it works for me.

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