In one of his books, Mr Lee Kuan Yew said, “The spoken word is always stronger, more emotive, and commands attention” and that “human beings are never moved by written words.  It is the spoken word that arouses them to action.  Arthur Koestler rightly pointed out that if Hitler’s speeches had been written, not spoken, the Germans would never have gone to war”.

According to language specialists, in face-to-face communication, 40 per cent of meaning is conveyed by words but 60 per cent is conveyed through intonation; gestures and facial expressions.”

Here are some tips on public speaking :


  • Anchor with colour
    Choose an outfit with colours that project the message you wish to send out – is  it friendliness or authority (darker colours) you wish to project or is it warmth and sincerity (lighter colours)?  Always add a splash of vibrant colours to your outfit to anchor the audience’s attention on you, and then on what you have to say.
  • Beware of image destroyers
    You do not want to undermine your confidence by worrying about that stain on your shirt or that less-than-shiny shoes!  Be immaculate and do not allow any part of your dressing to negate your entire look.  When you look good, you’ll feel confident.
  • Avoid weak posture and gestures
    Avoid weak postures like slouching or hunching over the lectern.  You will look more confident standing in front of the lectern and not behind it.  Rocking back and forth gives the impression that you are trying to gain extra height.  Stand straight and tall and looking at the audience in the eye shows confidence.  Do not clench your hands in front of you or put your hands in your pockets, lest they be misconstrued as defensive or secretive.Gestures that are weak include fiddling with your spectacles, playing with a paper clip, repeatedly twirling a pen around your fingers, patting your hair or your head and often clearing your throat.  Use hand gestures to underline what you have to say but avoid aggressive gestures such as finger-pointing or jabbing.
  • Let your eyes speak
    Eye movements convey your messages and a good speaker can communicate with the audience with his or her eyes.  Do not allow your eyes to dart all over the room.  Do it purposefully.  However shy you are, you have to make eye contact with the audience at least 60 to 70 percent of the time in order to be effective.


  • Act like a pro! It may be your first attempt, but don’t apologise for not being prepared or being new, even if you are a newbie!
  • Mention names (one that the audience is familiar with, e.g. name of chairman or person who invited you).
  • Do not brag about yourself. Avoid a lengthy introduction of yourself with an endless list of credentials.
  • Say ‘we’ instead of ‘I’.
  • Bear in mind listeners’ interest in order not to bore them. Be relevant.
  • Welcome criticisms.
  • Don’t show irritation in your voice or face when something goes wrong or when someone in the audience asks a rude question
  • Use humour whenever appropriate and laugh with the audience, not at them.


The key to effective speaking is confidence and you will gain confidence when you have various experiences with different audiences.

  • Know your materials well. Include humour, personal stories and anecdotes to make your script personable.
  • Practise, practise, practise. Practice is not going to make you perfect, but it will surely make you better.
  • Build rapport with the audience. Chat with the early attendees and make them your friends. When you begin, you will find it is easier to address a small group of friends than a big group of strangers.
  • Before the crowd comes in, familiarise yourself with the room. Check out the speaking area and test out the microphone.
  • Hype yourself up and transform any nervous energy into positive enthusiasm.
  • Practise the power of visualisation. Visualise the audience laughing at your jokes and clapping in agreeance with you and this will boost your confidence.
  • Know that the audience wants you to do well and wants to learn from you.
  • Focus on your message. Don’t allow your anxieties to distract you.