8 Dos and Don’ts in Public Speaking: Expert Advice to Be a Master Speaker

Public speaking anxiety is a common challenge faced by many individuals. Whether you’re delivering a presentation at work, speaking at an event, or simply giving a speech in front of a large audience, the fear of speaking can be overwhelming. However, with the right tools and techniques, anyone can overcome this challenge and become a confident and effective public speaker. In this blog, we’ll explore the 8 dos and don’ts of public speaking, expertly crafted to help you tackle your fears and become a master of the craft.

Being the keynote speaker at an event is a matter of great recognition and honor. It adds an accolade to your record. But what it also does is add to your anxiety and fear of public speaking. 

Any business leader or CEO who is trying to build their personal brand or gain some good PR for their venture is usually advised to speak at public events. 

But what about those who can’t even maintain eye contact in Zoom meetings? 

Well, first off, every public speaker that drips confidence is anxious to their core as they step onto the stage. But a few handy public speaking rules saves them from making a complete fool of themselves. Ultimately, they successfully do what they set out to achieve and deliver a remarkable presentation. 

If you are worried about jumping back into the speaking game after a break or have jitters thinking about public speaking, here are a few rules of public speaking to help you. 

Read on for public speaking dos and don’ts to conquer your fear of public speaking and learn to love it.

8 Dos and Don'ts in Public Speaking

There are some basic techniques that, when applied, can dramatically improve the value of your speech, whether you’re giving a live, face-to-face speech or a virtual presentation. On the downside, there are also some pitfalls to watch out for.

So, here are some public speaking do’s and don’ts to improve your speech and captivate your audience.

Warm Up Before Going on Stage

Warmup before speaking in public

Even the most seasoned public speaker suffers from some degree of performance anxiety. The best way to de-stress is with a good warm-up routine.

Before you hit the stage or take the mic at the conference, do a little pre-performance ritual to cheer yourself up. Here are some ideas:

Warm-up #1: Lift your chin

Relieve tension in the mouth and jaw when speaking.

Place your palms next to your face and gently massage your jaw and cheek muscles in small circular motions.

Continue massaging while lowering and raising the chin.

Added tone – ‘ma-ma-ma-ma’ with very light lip contact on ‘m’

Change to “Wawa-Wawa” and slightly round your lips, slightly distorting the “w”

Keep your shoulders low and relaxed to maintain good posture

Inhale slowly and deeply (but be careful not to cross your shoulders as you inhale)

Repeat “Hello” slowly while exhaling. A small amount of air is expelled each time.

Place your palm in front of your lips and feel the air being expelled.

Don’t try to control the pitch. Don’t force your breath out.

Try changing the pitch while repeating practice.

Don’t Apologize or Beg
Essential Warm-Up Exercises for Public Speakers

A big mistake nervous speakers make is to apologize or get their thoughts together. It’s natural to say things like ‘That’s my opinion, ‘I’m not sure, ‘I might be wrong, and so on when you’re nervous. But, that’s undermining your message!

So, research all points to feel confident in the information you are sharing.

Second, once you’re confident in your content, practice your speech in front of your friends. Whenever a warning or caveat is added, your friend should gently point it out and ask you to start over.

We also know that the best speakers aren’t for everyone. In fact, some of the best speakers are controversial, and that’s a good thing! You want people to get excited, think, and feel. That means you hit a chord!

Do Practice

Practice before your Presentation. Practice, practice, practice. The only way to overcome that nervous energy and make your speech sound as natural as possible is to rehearse it over and over again.

Read the slides, take notes in your head, and create reminders to remind yourself of the information you want to share with each slide you create.

Don’t just read the slides. That’s one of the obvious public speaking don’ts. Give yourself plenty of time to practice.

When it comes to public speaking, you don’t want to postpone anything until the last minute.

A good way to overcome your fear of public speaking is to practice in front of a mirror and observe how you present yourself.

If you’re looking to further develop your public speaking skills, check out our blog post on the “3 B’s of Public Speaking.” This post provides expert insights and practical tips on how to become a confident and effective public speaker.

Do Utilize the Stage

Dos and Don'ts of Public Speaking

Do you have a stage presence? Here’s a formula expert public speakers use to own the stage. Do this to learn how to perform like a pro on stage and capture the audience’s attention.

The big idea is to move intentionally instead of walking up and down. When adrenaline is released in our bodies, we tend to keep up with the stage. That’s how we remove all the nerves from our bodies.

Many speakers do this subconsciously, often unaware that the audience is forced to look at them like the balls in a tennis match.

Don’t Make Inappropriate Jokes

Stay politically correct. Even if you think you can make your audience laugh, you don’t have to discriminate or prey on a particular group. No one likes bullies, and it can be awkward. Avoid doing all this together. We want to maintain a good relationship with our viewers.

Do Test the Equipment in Advance

A handheld microphone for public speaking, with a shiny metal body and windscreen, resting on a dark surface

It’s a good idea to test all the equipment you use during your speech before encountering technology failures in front of an entire audience.

This can be a clicker on your presentation slides, the computer you use to open the presentation, a projector, or whatever else you have at your disposal.

Knowing exactly how to use each of these objects before you start your presentation will make your setup more seamless and give you a little edge over your big speech.

Don’t Panic

Don’t panic over a few hiccups. People who don’t like public speaking tell themselves, “It’s almost over.” Keep your head up and your note card handy. There is no doubt that you will think “Hmm, well, well, well!” after watching it!

Entrepreneur and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk suggests that people find ways to harness their nervous energy for performance, rather than expanding it entirely. Instead, give your speech a boost with some nerve-wracking adrenaline!

Do Take Help from Professionals

Most importantly, if you feel you don’t have enough resources, take help from professionals. There are public speaking and personal branding experts who can help you present yourself 10x better than you would without any guidance.

There are countless obvious and unwritten rules of public speaking because when you’re in front of the public eye, every move you make must be strategic.

As a CEO, you may not have the time to learn everything about public speaking, but you can devote eight weeks to becoming a master speaker before your big presentation.

Join Emerge Global’s online public speaking course to learn all about the delicate art of public speaking.

Join Emerge Global's Public Speaking Course

As we’ve seen in this post, effective communication is a critical skill for leaders to have. However, not everyone is naturally adept at it. That’s where executive communication coaching comes in.

While the tips we’ve discussed in this post can help you improve your communication skills, working with an executive communication coach can take your abilities to the next level.


This blog post provides eight dos and don’ts to help individuals overcome their fear of public speaking and become confident and effective speakers. The tips include warming up before going on stage, practicing your speech, utilizing the stage intentionally, and avoiding making inappropriate jokes. It also advises against apologizing or begging and emphasizes the importance of testing the equipment in advance. By following these tips, you can improve the value of their speech and captivate their audience.

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About Author

Jeremiah O`Brian
Master Teacher  | USC School of Dramatic Arts

Jeremiah O’Brian is a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. His exceptionally diverse background – from gritty nuts-and-bolts firefighting to film and theatre credits and accolades – is bolstered by his several graduate degrees.

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