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African Nova Scotian Health Resource

Why Public Speaking?

You may be asking yourself, "What does public speaking have to do with health professions?"

The answer is health advocacy for addressing health disparities.

Being able to give information in a digestable format is a desirable skill regardless of profession, but to change someone's mind on a critical issue such as public health, it takes a little extra work. This is where strong public speaking skills come in.

Learning how to deliver an impactful speech that will leave an impression that lasts after your speech is over and can lead to real change in the lives of your audience and beyond.

We give credit to the University of Maryland’s Project SHARE for the content on this page which can be found here: It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Effective Speakers

Effective Speakers are


This comes with preparation and knowing your subject. By projecting confidence your audience will trust you more and will feel their time is being well spent.


Projecting enjoyment at discussing a topic will generate interest of that topic in your audience.


Humans are naturally empathetic so discussing a topic you have genuine interest in will transmit to your audience and reveal its importance.


Although contingent on the present circumstances, even the most serious of speeches will try to lighten the mood with a joke or a humourus anecdote. By assiduously applying humour in the right context you can ingratiate yourself to the audience and maintain their interest.


Give a reason for why your audience should trust you. This could be from experiences you've had, researched you performed, the title of your position, etc. Just show your audience that you are an authoritative voice on the topic at hand.

...Know the subject

Giving an impressive job title only goes so far if you don't understand your speech topic very well. Before giving your speech understand your topic forwards and backwards.

...Use Inflection and Tone

Highlight key points and maintain interest by giving auditory cues to your audience. While it's vital to understand the content of your topic, delivering the information so your audience walks away with the most important pieces requires some auditory highlighting.

Public Speaking Tips

Tips for Effective Public Speaking:

1. Make eye contact

This helps establish a connection between you and your audience. Look at individuals rather than over the crowd as a whole.

2. Pace

Maintain a steady pace appropriate for your audience and avoid the nervous tendency to speed things up.

3. Posture/Body Language

Standing up straight will give you a confident presence which will help your audience trust you.

4. Breathe!

Before your speech, take deep breaths by using your diaphragm. This will help you relax so you can maintain a steady pace.

5. Be aware of and eliminate distracting movements or speech patterns

Also known as mannerisms, avoid fidgeting at your tie or hem of your skirt and instead of saying "um" or "uh" when searching for a word opt for thoughtful silence. As a bonus, short periods of silence after key statements makes them more impactful.

6. Be prepared - know your material – Practice, practice, practice saying the words clearly and placing emphasis – mark up your text if necessary

The more you practice the more familiar you will become with how you want to communicate your material, which helps reduce nervousness.

7. Know your audience

Catering your speech to your audience is crucial for getting your message across. Are you speaking to professionals in the industy? You can probably use more technical jargon. Are you speaking to a group of middle-schoolers about maintaining good health? Drop the jargon and use more everyday terminology.

8. Get yourself ready

Prepare speech materials ahead of time and include annotations for key points to emphasize. Reduce anxiety on the day of your speech by choosing your outfit the night before.

9. Know the room you are working in

Knowing your audience is key. Are you speaking to a room full of professionals in the same field of work as you? Perhaps you're speaking to the general public, or maybe trying to tell kids to eat their vegetables. Catering your message to your audience is vital for a successful speech.

10. Never apologize

This is especially important for technological issues (a sadly common occurence). Apologizing can sometimes be taken as a sign of guilt for being unprepared. So, even if it's true, avoid saying "sorry" unless its for anything truly disastrous.

Reducing Anxiety

Glossophobia – fear of public speaking (from a greek translation meaning "fear of the tongue")

Anxiety Reduction Tips


Plan out 2-3 key concepts you want your audience to walk away with after your speech is over. This will help you feel like you used their time effectively.


Practice, practice.... and more practice! The more you practice the more prepared you feel which will allow you to feel more natural in front of your audience.

Visualize yourself giving the speech

Athletes do it, musicians do it, surgeons do it, you can too! Visualizing scenarios prior to their occurrence has been shown to increase performance and calm nerves. As you practice your speech, visualize your audience in front of you to reduce nervousness and get into the proper headspace.


Take long deep breaths before you go in front of your audience and remember to breathe evenly and deeply during your speech.

and remember...

Your audience is rooting for you!

Not counting sworn enemies, everyone in your audience is rooting for you to have a great speech! This is not only because seeing someone struggle on stage is uncomfortable for everyone involved, but also because great speeches can be informative and even entertaining!


The Elevator Speech

Imagine: You've been working hard at an organization for a while and have come up with a really good idea. So good it's always on your mind and you really want to put it into action. 

One day you take the elevator in your building, but just before the doors close a blocking hand makes them open again. Your eyes widen as the doors open revealing the owner of the hand, it's the CEO of the company!

Now's your chance!

This imaginary scenario is where the term "The Elevator Speech" comes from. Being able to forcefully and persuasively give only the most critical information in a short period of time is a critical skill that applies to many more scenarios than this imagined one.

Can you do it?

Do you know how?

Do you know the best practices for this?

Elevator Speech Checklist

1. Was there an opening statement?

2. Was the presenter’s response stated clearly and relevant to the question?

3. Did the presenter speak clearly and effectively?

4. Did the presenter use statistics or examples to support her/his point?

5. Was there a closing statement?

6. Was the presenter well-prepared?