In his book Public Speaking For Success, Dale Carnegie gives accounts of many people of knowledge who did not publicly share what they knew, purely because they were gripped by the fear of public speaking.

When I first stepped into the public speaking arena, I thought that confidence was all that I needed to become an impactful speaker. That was far from the truth.

After hiring a speech coach, joining Toastmasters International, competing in public speaking contests, reading books on public speaking, and reading articles from some of the most in-demand speakers on the planet, I realised that there are four steps which can make you a more impactful and influential speaker. I have used these four steps in my speaking career (in corporate boardrooms, at youth empowerment bush camps, and in front of audiences numbering in the thousands). So, here they are:

1. Engage – in the opening of your speech, the first thing that you have to do is to engage with your audience. Too many times, speakers will open their speech by thanking the audience or thanking the MC. Your goal should be to grip the audience on an emotional and intellectual level. One effective way to create an engaging opening is to give a fact eg. “2% of calls made in telemarketing result in a sale”. Another effective method is to quote someone - “”You don’t set goals for acquisition purposes, you set goals to grow” said Bob Proctor””. You could also share something in history eg. “On 14 September 1943, a brave young soldier led the 25 Battalion of the Royal Australian Forces into a fierce battle in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. His bravery and resilience left a mark on history.” My point is this, you have to engage with your audience in a way that will get them thinking, and will touch them emotionally. Paint pictures in their minds, give them powerful words to listen to, and make them feel your words. Your opening has to link to the rest of your speech of course. The examples given above are just some of the ways to engage with your audience from the outset. There is a quote from Dorothy Sarnoff which says “Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.” So, you have to be engaging or else your audience will ‘stop listening’.

2. Inform – it is your duty to share your knowledge, ideas, and wisdom. As a speaker, you are the authority figure and some people may see you as the expert on the subject matter of your speech. People will be expecting you to provide them with information. Keep it simple! That is the key here. If you complicate things, not only will you lose your audience’s attention, you may lose their respect as well. Confidence is the key - look, act, and feel confident. Physiology affects psychology. If your body language expresses confidence, you will feel confident. Be well read and researched. Know your subject matter, and more importantly, deliver your subject matter like a true expert would! Facts tell, stories sell - instead of giving just facts, incorporate stories into them. For example, “When the CEO of an organisation in (name a city or state) hired me to consult with him because his staff morale was down, I told him to invest in personal development for his staff”. Personalising a story will not only make it more believable, it will also add credibility to your reputation as a speaker.

3.Entertain – keeping it light hearted will keep your audience engaged as well as entertained. If you can tell a joke (without totally going off course from your subject matter), by all means do so! One of the simplest ways to entertain your audience is to use self-deprecating humour. Let me share an example with you. In October 2012, I went to another state, to speak at a forum. The speaker before me had lost the audience’s interest. People were barely paying attention to him. When he was done, I was introduced by the MC. The look on the faces of the audience told me that they were much disengaged at the time. I stepped on stage and said “I would like to personally thank every citizen in this great state of yours! You have made my life easier. When I stepped off the aeroplane yesterday, I nearly walked to the foreign exchange window to change currency. I then realised that you use the same currency as we do back in my home state. Thank God for that!” The audience started laughing lightly. There was a young man (who had also come from another state), sitting in the front row. He raised his hand and sheepishly said “In my state we use the same currency too”. I repeated what he said, on my microphone, and the audience erupted in laughter! So, please think of how you can put light hearted moments in your speeches.

4. Energise - influence is making people believe. Get them into an emotional state where they will be willing to believe in what you are saying. If there is a call to action in your speech, you must empower your audience to take action. I remember being told by my speech coach that energising your audience includes making them feel good. If you don’t make them feel good in your speech, then you can give them a call to action that will make them feel good (once completed). Energising your audience also means making them see possibilities. Ask the audience to tap into their imagination. Move them to a place in the future where they will be productive, purposeful, passionate etc. By no means am I suggesting that you go to extreme measures such as asking them to hold hands with each other and sing in unison. No, not at all. What I am suggesting is that you provide your audience with some sort of encouragement. Whenever I do volunteer speaking for charities, I energise my audiences by making them see how they can make a positive difference by supporting the charity that I am representing. For example, I am a volunteer speaker for the Starlight Children's Foundation. Their goal is to help kids in hospitals all over the country, by providing them with fun things to do while they are in hospital. So, I will use these lines at the end of my speech “Just $20 provides art and craft activities for an ill child in hospital. Can you imagine how much of a positive difference that makes to that sick child? Tonight, I ask YOU to make that positive difference.”. Some words of influence that you can use are – “our”, “lets”, “imagine”, “possible”, and “hope”.

So, if you are able to engage, inform, entertain, and energise your audience, you will be a more influential and impactful speaker.

Please also bear in mind to work on your gestures, projection, tonality, pauses etc. Public speaking is something that I am constantly developing in via research and experience.

The last piece of advice that I will give you is to do one simple thing – PRACTISE! The more you practise, the more natural you will be in front of an audience.

If there is a Toastmasters International club near you, then visit the club and enquire about joining. Your personal and professional development will be exponential.

Quote: “You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” John Ford

I hope that I have given you four simple insights into effective public speaking.

Inspiring you towards your excellence,
Ron Prasad (Author, Speaker, Life Coach & Executive Coach)

PS: To order my book, please go to For $19.95, you get the book, thousands of dollars in bonus gifts from some of the best personal development experts in the world (such as Bob Proctor, Marci Shimoff, Dr Joe Rubino), and you get to give back to the community by supporting my charity! I appreciate your support.

Author's Bio: 

Ronny Prasad is the author of WELCOME TO YOUR LIFE - simple insights for your inspiration & empowerment ( He is also an inspired speaker who empowers his audience with his enthusiasm and energy. His passion is inspiring and fulfilling lives, and sharing his insights with people around the world. He actively supports animal charities in many countries.