November 20, 2007

Seven ways to practice public speaking at work

Think you don't need public speaking skills?

Along with the results of its 21st annual Jobs Report Survey of 9,290 IT professionals, Computerworld published this article entitled "Nine Nontechie Skills that Hiring Managers Wish You Had."

#3 is "an aptitude for public speaking."

It's getting harder and harder to find a job that doesn't require competency in communication and public speaking skills.

What are you doing to improve your skills?

Here are some ideas for formal and informal workplace speaking opportunities:

1. Offer to share the responsibility for facilitating team meetings - and learn how to do it right

2. If it's not appropriate for you to lead a meeting, prepare something to share or a question to ask each time to get experience speaking up

3. Offer to be the one who gives the next report for your team

4. Ask to take the lead on a group project

4. Practice your professional introduction (aka "elevator speech") - that is, practice talking about what you do for a living in 30 seconds or less

5. Institute a joke-of-the-month at your regular staff meeting, then practice your joke-telling skills

5. Next time there's a new employee at your workplace, offer to introduce her/him around the office

6. Join the office book club or volunteer group

7. Share your expertise on a topic at a "lunch and learn" session

Also, see this post on public speaking practice for the self-employed.

What else can you do to get public speaking experience in your job?

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75 comments. Please add yours! :

Tammie M said...

I love the ideas of coming up with ways to get your foot in the door of public speaking;however, I have had the oppsite experience. I wrote this paper for one of our project groups that would save money etc...of course they ran with my idea and I was left at the table holding my copy of my paper. So, I've become a little reluctant in getting involved with the higher powers that be in my business.
Tammie M
Oral Communications

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Don't give up, Tammie!

Anonymous said...

The ideas to get involved are great! I don't currently work at a job where we have team meetings or reports of any sort but we do each take turns showing new people around and training them in.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Courtney!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa,

Your ideas for public speaking are excellent. I once had a job where I was asked to train people in and it's a great way to get to know someone. Hopefully after I finish my oral communications class, I will have more courage to try some of your other ideas. I found your blog on

Jo said...

I like the ideas presented and will use them as SASS grows. Public speaking is very much a part of my 'job' now, as I do community education and various presentations to local businesses and schools.
Jolen Uhura-Wilds

Jo said...

Jo also found you blog on

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you all for stopping by from Ter's blog. I appreciate your making yourselves at home and jumping in with comments! Welcome. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think the ideas listed here for public speaking are awesome. I usually put so much effort into thinking of how I could get better at public speaking but after reading this I learn that the little steps are the most important. I am a manager at my curent job so many of the listed items are things I will start to try because I have endless opportunities to do so.
Oral Communications

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ter sent me to you from his instantpublicspeaker.blogspot site. Thank you for the suggestions for better commuication skills on public speaking. I have used the introducing new employee to others approach; it is a great way to get to know another person. Diane B., Ter's Oral Communications Summer Coarse. I apologize if this is being sent a second time, I'm not sure of this blog stuff.

Natalie Beckstrand said...

I love the ideas presented in here. They make becoming better at public speaking seem so easy in stead of frightening. I think a lot of people get intimidated about public speaking so they don't think of things as simple as these to improve their ability to become better at it.
Natalie Beckstrand
Oral Communications Spring Class
April 4, 2009
sent here from:

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for stopping by, Natalie, and I'm happy to see Ter's students still finding my blog!

Karen W said...

Hi Lisa,

I received your link from I like your idea for offering to be the one who gives the next report. I have tried that a couple times. I feel great when it is over except I blush so much during the speech. I am hoping to get that under control. The people I work with don't mind my tomato face though. They are used to it.
Karen W.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Hi Karen! The more you speak, the less you'll blush. However, I get really red when I speak, just from adrenaline and excitement, and I just think of it as a healthy flush that brightens my face. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I must admit, I have a lot of work to do. All of your ideas seem like very scary things for me, but that's why I am taking an oral communications class. I see the importance of good communication skills in anyone's life. Ter sent me from
Abby Wolter

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Abby, it's a huge step for you to be taking this class. Take baby steps if you have to, to get started speaking and building your confidence.

Krissi Kotnik said...

I enjoyed reading this blog. It gave more perspective to the word public speaking. The hints to being a better public speaker are good to know.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you, Krissi!

Anonymous said...

Hello Lisa! I was sent by Ter Scott via the link Where I work we do not have any meetings to lead. If, somewhere down the road, I work in a department like those you mentioned, the only thing I can see myself doing would be joining a book club. I am a very shy person and I don't like being in large groups of people even if I am not talking. I know, I have a lot to work on, but after 38 years it is really hard to change.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Change is always hard, but you wouldn't be taking the communications course if you weren't ready to shake things up a bit. :-) Joining a book club or other small club is a great idea, where you can get used to speaking up in a small group. Then you move on from there!

Anonymous said...

I thought these were all excellent ideas on how to improve your public speaking skills. I think joining the office book club is a great one since I love reading! I received this link from
Elisse Black
Oral Communications

ladejawoods said...


I think that the steps that were advised were very much needed, I can surely gain from this experiment and insight. I really want to work on my Oral Comm Skills and I hope that I can overcome this by taking this class.


Alyssa Scofield said...

Lisa this is awsome advice I enjoyed reading, these can improve my skills and once I start work I will apply some of these I like the idea of preparing something to share or asking questions to get experience speaking up. All of these are great ideas to get involved!
I recieved your link from

Nishanna - Oral Communications said...

It's getting harder and harder to find a job that doesn't require competency in communication and public speaking skills is very true! I just looked in my local newspaper and most of the entry level jobs that I would be interested in, state this requirement of having good communication skills. My eyes are now more open!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Nice to hear from Ter's students. Thank you all for stopping by!

Kayla Soul said...

I think these are really good ways to improve public speaking. Just taking one step at a time no matter how little can slowly help your confidence while speaking in front of or to new people. I found this blog on

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kayla!

Anonymous said...

You made a really good article. They sound like a good way to be calm and build confidence to talk to other people. Sometimes I get nervous when I talk to a group of people. I hope this Oral Communications class helps me get more confident in speaking in front of a group of people. By reading your article I am going to try your seven ways to practice public speaking where I work. I found your link at
Megan Beck
Oral Communications

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Megan! Good luck in your class.

Heather M. said...

Some of the ideas had me going: "I don't know, I really don't feel comfortable with that idea." As to jokes at my current place of work we don't have meeting that often and when we do it is the managers/PIC (Person In Charge) who put them together to tell us what we are doing wrong, not what we have done right. The idea of showing new people around and teaching them the ropes is a good idea as long as the new person is willing to do what is required instead of "passing the buck".
I would like to volunteer for some organizations that I am interested in but for me the problem is transportation and the time to do it or be available to do it.

Unknown said...

This article gives great ideas for being more apart of your job and giving more to the table. I agreed that it is definitely not appropriate to lead a meeting, especially if it is not your meeting to lead. These seven ways to help practice your public speaking at work were very helpful to me. I also really enjoyed tip number five. That helps give your other employers a much needed laugh, and helps improve your communication skills. I got this article from

Julia Werbelow - Oral Communications, Winter Quarter

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comments, Julia and Heather.

Heather, there are seven suggestions on that list. Rather than focusing on the ones that wouldn't work for you, trying finding the one or two that would, and then go for it!

Mommo9 said...

Those are some great suggestions to help people take small steps toward becoming a better public speaker,more experienced and comfortable in front of others.
Patty W-L
Oral Communications

Heather Wilson said...


Your ideas about public speaking are great. I myself don't enjoy speaking in front of large groups. I tend to get very nervous and talk fast to get it over and done with. At work with my co-workers, we've had to go around and read aloud information that pertains to our lob. It did really help that I even knew the people I was talking in front of for 6 years. I'm hoping that in practice I will get to be less nervous. I got this article from

Heather Wilson
Oral Communications

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Heather, I'm glad to hear you're willing to practice; that's the only way to accustom yourself to speaking! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

well, honestly, I have no problem talking to those that I work with because we are a small group. I have worked there for nearly 4 years. There are only about 20 people in my place of business. I have a really hard time meeting new people and talking to those I do not know. I just don't know what to say, and end up just being really quiet and avoiding the situation when I can.

stephanie m
winter quarter 2010

Lisa Braithwaite said...

You might find my posts on networking to be more helpful!

Theresa said...

Your ideas sound great I'm going to try some of them. I have spoke a few times to a group of people and I always get very nervous. So I'm going to try some of yout tips Thanks

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for stopping by, Theresa.

Amanda Rudell said...

I like these ideas! They are opening up my mind to new things that I have never thought of doing to getting over that small fear of public speaking.
Got your link from

Jennifer Borresch, Oral Communications Student said...

I agree about sharing something or having a question during a discussion. You are publicly speaking in front of the group but only for a short time. This gives you experience in speaking in front of a group. At my work when we have a group meeting, we go around the room and let everyone even if they don't have a question say something regarding the topic being discussed. This may be an exercise to get everyone to voice an opinion and speak or this may be a communication exercise to get everyone to speak in front of the group.

Melissa Rempher said...

I like your ideas for practicing your speaking skills. I don't have formal meetings at my job but we do share ideas and opinions frequently and I have seen how bad communication can confuse things. I also have many appointments each day with clients and know how impportant it is to make your points clear. I got your link from

MerriAnn said...

I like your ideas about initiating opportunities to speak publicly and they are all fairly good. What most people need to know is that no matter whether your ideas are implemented or not does not mean you shouldn't keep trying to improve on your speaking and marketing skills. I got your link from

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comments... it's great to see new faces each semester!

Linda Mortenson said...

Hi Lisa, I got you link from I reall like all of your ideas for speaking in public. I'm a firm believer that practice makes perfect (or at least improvement). I have had the opportunity to speak publicly to generally a small group of co-workers and it does get easier.
Linda Mortenson

Anonymous said...

Starting small to improve your skills. Taking the employee around the office, sounds simple, but for some, could be hard. But make it simple by having fun, but being professional. A book club, what a great idea. Read a book on what you like and talk about it. It is something you will know all about. To me if I feel I am looking good and feeling good about myself, I feel more confident and then the confidence is there.
Thank you Lisa for those helpful hints. It is small steps that lead to bigger ones.
Vickie Luck DBU. sent me :)

tia said...

Ter Scott sent me to this article.
This article was a great insight to how to achieve the goal of being comfortable about speaking in public.
May 8, 2010

ostara_g said...

Hello Lisa, I got your link from: I agree with your article and found it very informative. Your suggestions are great! There seem to be alot of things we can do to improve our public speaking which I never realized that I can incorporate it in my every day life.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

So glad to hear that the link is still being found! I hope you'll find other helpful articles on the blog as well.

Anonymous said...


Ter Scott sent me. I like your list of things to help with communication. I have always been the nervous type to talk infront of my class or at a job where I need to speak in front of more than 5 people. It's nice to know there are good ways to prepare yourself before having to jump into it right off the bat. I think that sharing the responsibilities with someone would be helpful enough for me.


diane said...

Hi Lisa
Ter Scott from has asked me to visit your blog.
I liked the part of trying to communicate with others. I work at the hospital and I talk with a lot of people but only if they start first. I have a hard time communicating with people or standing in front of a crowd of people. I'm hoping this class will help me with that

Bill Fritze said...

Hello I was directed to this site by Ter Scott The ideas you give for becomeing a better speaker were great. I expecially like the idea of telling a daily joke, what a great way to break the fear of speaking up.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you all for stopping by! I'm glad the article is still useful to you.

McKenzie.Banks~DBU~Medical Billing and Coding said...


I got the link from: by Ter Scott. I do alot of public speaking in my current job and always taking on another new procedures and being sure all the other employees follow that procedures correctly. I can honestly tell you the reason I moved up in our company, is because my public speaking improved by opening myself up and defeating against a once fear of mine, speaking in front of a group! ~thank you for the tips

Katherine Stordahl said...


I got this link from by Ter Scott. I agree with you about the seven ways to practice public speaking. When i was reading them I all ready do some of those way at work. Like with the jokes some times that how we get through the day.

Dawn Paquette said...

Lisa, your 7 ways to practice public peaking are so helpful. Iv never been good at it but your 7 ideas will definitly help me. #4 was my favorite. I think taking the lead on a project is a good way to jump in and be heard.
Also teri from sent me.

Brenda Rogers, Oral Communication Class said...

I received your link from by Ter Scott. The seven ways to practice public speaking are great ideas and easy to put in practice. I am going to try #2 at my next meeting.

Rebecca Goranson said...

I got this link from
I like the idea of when a new employee starts to introduce them to everyone in the office. It's a good way of working on your communication skills and also to keep acquainted with everyone in the workplace.
Rebecca Goranson
Oral Communication Fall 2010

Jackie Zupon said...

I got her link from:
My boss always has our during our monthly meetings to go around the room and introduce ourselves for the new employees and where we work.

Hanna Krivinchuk said...

I got this link from:
I like the ideas for things to do at work. Both of the jobs that I have don't have monthly meetings with the staff. It seems like everytime I go to one job there is always someone new working, I just am myself and let them know who I am, I wish my work environments would have meetings because the tips you gave would make them fun.

Hanna Krivinchuk
Oral Communication Fall 2010

Jennifer Hawkins said...

Ter sent me from
I like the idea of showing the new person around the office and introducing them to the staff. When I was in the working environment, before taking time out to be a stay at home mother. My job was training in employees and this was something I enjoyed. I loved learning where they were from and what they were hoping to get out of there job. The business was small enough that every one got along and we developed a camaraderie (tight knit family).

Jennifer Hawkins
Oral Communications Fall 2010

Joshua Hofschulte said...

I got this link from:

I'm pretty good at just about everything you mentioned. I'm not trying to talk myself up or anything but I do need to work on saying things correctly in a professional way. I can stand up in front of people and read something on paper to the crowd. Keeping my eyes mostly to the crowd. It's the initial writing that gets me sometimes.

Colleen Winberg said...

I got this link from

I agree when she says that there are very few positions in the career world that don't require you to speak well. Weather it is on paper or in a conference room, it still will either make your interview or break it. I personally agree with improving your speaking skill by being the main representative in an office meeting. I had my own confidence go up alot when I began to speak more an more in work meetings.

Colleen Winberg
Oral Communications 2010

Yvonne Johnson said...

I received your link from

I find the things you have listed to improve communication skills very helpful. Through the oral communication course I am taking I hope to improve on my skills and have the confidence to try some of your ideas at my place of employment.

Anonymous said...


I got your link from: http://instant publicspeaker.b and was sent by Ter.

I never really thought about the ideas that you had suggested as ways to improve public speaking. I am the type of person who sort of sits back and listens as everyone else voices their ideas and opinions. I was always told in meetings that my ideas were just never quite what was needed or someone elses ideas were better, or my ideas were given credit to someone else. I just decided that staying quiet was best. I would like to learn and teach myself that what I have to say it valuable.

Corinne said...

I got this link from I have also just pretty much sat back and stayed quiet. Your ideas are something to think about, it may help to start by talking during meetings and speaking up.

Elaine Wiggins said...

Hello! I found this article through the following link:
I found this article very helpful in providing ideas to improve my communication skills. I have always been more of a follower than a doer but as I work to improve my career skills and take steps to move up the ladder I am finding that I am pushing myself harder to get out of my comfort zone. I will make it a goal to ask at least one question in our staff meetings at work. I recently did this through a group work email by bringing up a concern and I have now been put in charge of a training process for a new task. My challenge is the verbal skills. Face to face is harder for me. Thanks again for the ideas!

Elaine Wiggins

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you all for continuing to stop by and leave your comments. I hope you are able to put some of these tips into practice and find your confidence!

Katherine Stordahl said...

I agree with your article it is going to really help me I got your article from
thank you so much

Unknown said...


I enjoyed your article. You have some good ideas on how to improve your speaking skills. The joke of the month is a great one to break the ice at a monthly meeting and practice. Thank you for the information.
I got your link from
Linda DBU Oral Communications Winter 2011

Kari A. said...

I think the idea of your "Joke of the Month" idea is great for work meetings. It would sure put a break on the seriousness and boredom of a meeting. I got your article from Have a great day!

Anonymous said...


I received your link from and was sent by Ter.

I thought that #2 in your article was a perfect idea to get you to become comfortable with speaking in front of others, without having all the focus on you at once. Many of these suggestions give a person the opportunity to get confortable in their own skin before putting themselves out there in front of a lot of people.

Nadine Lohman

Lisa Braithwaite said...

I would love to hear if any of you have put these ideas into practice and how it turned out! Glad you're willing to be open-minded about opportunities for public speaking.

Anonymous said...

I think taking the lead is the best way to get good at public speaking. By taking the lead, people have to listen to you.

Justin Keuten
Oral Communications

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Great point, Justin. And when people are listening, you feel a greater responsibility to give them something of value, not something you just threw together at the last minute.

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