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Eight Ways to Ace Speaking on Stage

Guest blogger Sadiya Khan provides eight key tips on how to excel at public speaking


  1. Do your homework

Messing up a presentation you’ve prepared for is bad luck. Messing up a presentation you haven’t prepared for is just irresponsible. Give yourself the best chance of success by investing in the process. Know your subject. Believe in your subject and it will come across authentically to your audience.

  1. Nerves are natural

Physical responses of fear are the same ones as when you’re excited. When you’re nervous or scared your heart rate increases, your muscles tense, your breathing becomes more rapid. Your fight or flight responses kick in to prepare you for perceived danger. And what happens when you’re excited? Ditto. A top trick just before you go on stage is to reframe your physical symptoms. Convince yourself you’re excited by saying to yourself ‘I can’t wait to tell everyone about the exciting information that I’ve prepared’. Nerves will settle as soon as you get started.

  1. Zoom out

What is it that drives you? When you identify what makes you tick, you can look at a presentation as a process to enable you to get closer to what is meaningful for you. By doing this and zooming out to the impact that your presentation could have, it can help you to get excited.

  1. Be you

Fact: nobody knows everything. Authenticity can be more valuable and better received than people with a ‘know it all’ attitude. As long as you’ve covered point 1, then just turn up and be you. It’s ok to do it in your style. There’s only one of you on this planet and no matter how many times something has been done, it’s never been done your way before. There will be people who will benefit from the content of your presentation and others who will be inspired by your guts to get up there and say something. Spend some time reflecting afterwards. Take the good and learn from the rest. Practise makes progress.

  1. It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it

We can be unaware of how we sound and the mannerisms we have when we speak. Become aware of your tone, your body language, and your eccentricities. Awareness is power. When you know what it sounds like, you can tweak accordingly. Talking in front of the mirror or to a trusted friend/colleague can help to get honest feedback. Always be true to your own style, but if there is something you want to tweak to enhance the effectiveness of your delivery, you can’t change it if you don’t know about.

  1. Less is more

Conviction and self-belief show. Explaining every detail on each slide can come across as over-justification. Constantly looking searchingly for audience approval can erode credibility. You don’t have to explain every single detail on every single slide. Be the right side of the line between confident and arrogant. Trust your audience to ask questions if they don’t understand. Avoid repetition of points.

  1. Think about your audience

Presentations are trying to tell a story. How do you want your audience to feel? What one thing do you want them to take away? Which part of the story will they be most interested in? Sometimes we can get carried away presenting from our viewpoint but think about what would be most engaging for listeners.

  1. Plan for your platform

Online presentations are more common. Think ahead on what your background will be, what surroundings will make you most comfortable, and whether you want to stand up or sit down to reduce uncertainty. Try out the technology before, get your time zones right, and log on early to avoid the fluster and panic with last-minute glitches.

In all, you are on stage for a reason, and they want to listen to what you have to say. With each new opportunity we take, we learn a little more about ourselves. If you never start, you can never get better. If you’d like some help with acing it on stage, I work with people to maximise their performance in all areas of life, so please do get in touch for a free consultation.

Otherwise, prepare, practise and be positive. Have a chat with your inner critic and let them know that you’ve got this. Know that your audience might well be feeling nervous too. Relax, do your best and embrace it and I promise it will be easier the next time. Even the best presenters started somewhere.


You can book on to an upcoming course to enhance your public speaking abilities with Sadiya here.

Sadiya is an air cargo and logistics expert and executive coach, having held various executive and managerial positions in air cargo for Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic. She has availability on her next public speaking courses which can be booked here. You can find out more about Sadiya’s courses and expertise on a range of personal development topics at sadiyakhanpt.com.

About the author

Julian Pryke

Julian was born in the year human’s first walked on the moon, and supersonic airline Concorde was flown. He studied psychology before writing for legendary football magazine, Shoot. He edited and was publisher for multiple sector leading transport and logistic, and commercial fishing publications. He is proud to have been a fishmonger. He is a Guinness World Record Holder.