262: Top Five Public Speaking Tips

262: Top Five Public Speaking Tips

In this episode, I share my top five public speaking tips along with my personal journey with public speaking, including my most challenging experience. These tips include practicing and timing your speech, slowing down and varying your rhythm, speaking from your heart or diaphragm, considering your audience, and the power of storytelling. There’s a bonus tip in there too. I stress the importance of preparation, confidence, and connection with the audience to deliver powerful presentations.

For more on this topic, check out Episode 255 on how to captivate any audience.

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262: Top 5 Public Speaking Tips


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome to the top global ranked and award nominated grad school femtoring podcast. The place for first gen BIPOCs to listen in on conversations about grad school, and growth. In this podcast, you'll learn about all things higher education, personal development, and sustainable productivity. This is Dr.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yvette Martinez Vu, and I will be serving as your femtor, providing you with tips and tricks and everything else you need to know to successfully navigate grad school. For over 14 years, I've been empowering first gen students of color along their personal and professional journeys, and I'm really excited to support you too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. [00:01:00] This is your host, Dr. Yvette. Today's episode is on the top five public speaking tips that I can offer you today based on my recent public speaking experiences. If you didn't know this about me, in addition to being a grad school and productivity coach and an author, Don't forget to buy my book.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Uh, I am also a speaker. Lately, what I've been doing is I've been giving more virtual and in person workshops and keynotes, primarily at colleges and universities across the country. One of the things that I've noticed is that there are some things that I do regularly that help me with public speaking.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I thought to myself, okay, well, let me talk a little bit more about public speaking. And I thought I would start with sharing My single most [00:02:00] difficult, challenging, perhaps even cringe worthy public speaking moment. Oh my goodness. When I think about this, I, you know, in fact, I didn't share this experience publicly and I didn't tell people how much I struggled during this experience for many, many years.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I kept it to myself. I felt so much shame and I'm grateful that I've finally reached a point where I can. Openly talk about it and acknowledge how hard and challenging it was and let it go. It's just part of my public speaking experience and I learned a lot from it. You might be thinking that my worst public speaking experience might have been through my theater days since I was involved in theater acting since elementary school.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I kept doing that in middle school, in high school and in college, but that's not it. My worst public [00:03:00] speaking experience actually happened during my first year of grad school. I had been encouraged to apply to present at a conference and little did I know, I was selected to be part of a keynote panel.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So this was my first year in grad school, my very first academic conference as a grad student. I I did present at academic conferences as an undergrad, but this was my first time as a PhD student. And as part of the keynote panel, I had the largest audience. So I showed up, prepared my presentation, did everything I needed to do, which I thought at the time, to prepare the presentation, But I, what I didn't do was prepare or consider what my audience would look like.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I showed up, it was a full room and. I, there's nothing [00:04:00] really that I could have done to prepare myself for having someone in the audience who verbally attacked me. Now, this might sound like an exaggeration, but there was someone in the audience who kept asking me question after question after question, Almost find the gaps in my arguments.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And this was a more senior scholar. I was a first year PhD student, and it really did feel like an attack. The majority of the questions were from this audience member directed at me. And to make matters worse, this presentation was recorded. It was shared online and it's still somewhere out there on the internet for folks to see.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It was. So, it was such a shameful experience for me to feel like I didn't know my stuff. I didn't know [00:05:00] enough. My presentation wasn't good enough and there was someone out there who didn't want me doing the work that I wanted to do. So that actually left a really big scar for me. I had already at the time stopped doing theater acting.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So I had stopped performing. I wasn't doing a lot of public speaking and that really impacted my self confidence and speaking publicly in my research skills, my presenting skills, um, and just my ability to show up as myself in public spaces. So that was, that was my worst experience. And like I said, there's no amount of preparation that could have helped me better navigate or even anticipate what would happen.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Uh, but you know, one of the things that potentially I could have done is consider the audience a little bit more. And that's actually one of the tips [00:06:00] I'm going to mention today. So keep this in mind. No matter how much you prepare, there could always be moments where things happen that are out of your control.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But hopefully with some of these tips, you will be able to release some of that shame from previous experiences, not let that hold you back, and still do your best to give a great and perhaps even powerful public speaking presentation somewhere. So let's start with the first public speaking tip and that is to practice and time yourself.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Now one of the things that you might be surprised, I read somewhere and I don't even have, I don't have the link to wherever I read this, but I read somewhere that the average keynote speaker practices their speech at least 10 times before they give it. Imagine how great your delivery skills would [00:07:00] be if you practiced whatever it is that you were presenting 10 times before giving it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Imagine how much more confident you'd be in your timing if each time you practiced you knew exactly how long it would take and that you were meeting the time limit. This is why it's so important to practice. I don't think that, um, a lot of us are taught enough about the importance of giving yourself time to practice.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It reminds me of how a lot of times when it comes to teaching writing, um, not all instructors spend enough time on the revision and the editing process. We need time to develop these skills. We need time to practice. There is no perfect person, even the best. The best public speakers need to practice, so don't underestimate the amount of time that you need to practice so that you can feel good about your delivery.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: The next tip is [00:08:00] to slow down and vary your rhythm. Yes, that's right. Some of us talk really quickly when we get nervous, and some of us have a more monotonous tone. But slowing down can actually feel helpful to your audience. To you, I know I'm the type of person when I public, when I do my public speaking, if I slow down, it can feel like an eternity.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: If I pause, it can feel even longer than that. But trust me, that slowing down is actually helpful for your audience as it helps them to better retain information. Adding pauses is also great for cognitive accessibility. So for instance, if you were to ask a question, rather than quickly moving on because no one responds right away, what if you allowed for a pause so that those that need more time to process can have time to [00:09:00] respond?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Also, I mentioned avoiding monotony, and the reason why you want to avoid monotony, if you can, is because it helps to increase the understanding. Um, and it also helps your audience really get a sense of what's important. in the messaging based on the words or phrases that you emphasize. I don't know if you notice this, but when I talk, I have a tendency of emphasizing certain words.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Even right now, emphasizing the word, emphasizing. If you notice that that's subtle variation in my tone. And the way that I say things, um, the way that I enunciate words, that can be quite helpful for your listeners, for your audience members. The next tip I want to offer you is to speak from your heart or what some of us call [00:10:00] speaking from your diaphragm.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: As a former theater practitioner, I can't not tell you to speak from your diaphragm. And I understand that not everybody might understand this concept if you've never been involved in theater or performing in any way. If you've done singing, if you've done acting, if whatever it is, you know what I'm talking about, but speaking from your diaphragm is a way to speak where it's almost like a.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You're speaking through your breathing. It's really hard for me to describe it, but one way you can start to work on your speaking from your diaphragm is learning about diaphragmatic breathing first. Yes, that's called diaphragmatic breathing. You breathe in, allow your belly to go Inflate. You breathe out and you speak as you're breathing out so that you're letting the air [00:11:00] out.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And the more you learn to speak from your diaphragm rather than from up here, um, touching my throat area, the better. Stronger your voice is going to sound. You're going to be able to sound whether you like it or not. You're going to sound louder. How many of us have been told to project our voices when we're public speaking?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: If you're someone who speaks softly, it can help to practice diaphragmatic speaking, so speaking from your diaphragm to help you so that your voice doesn't sound as, um, soft and also so that it. It might even help you with minimizing the monotone. So keep that in mind. Teaching you how to speak from your diaphragm is a whole other episode that would involve a lot more time.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And that's not something I'm equipped to do right now, right now. But if you want me to talk more about that, let me know. And I [00:12:00] can always dedicate a separate episode for that later. But the point is We want you, or I want you, if you want to strengthen your public speaking, to think about speaking from a voice that is greater than you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Speaking with power. Speaking with your heart, from your heart, rather than your throat. Sometimes it helps me to visualize me thinking. Picturing myself as speaking, and it's almost like I'm speaking from this like greater being or perhaps even thinking about the imaging of my ancestors having my back when I am speaking.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That helps me to speak with a stronger tone, to speak from my diaphragm. And you know what, if it means my belly is ballooning on stage, it doesn't matter. Because to me, what's important is that I deliver a strong message [00:13:00] when I'm doing my public speaking. So don't forget, whatever is more helpful to you to remember to either speak from your diaphragm or speak from your heart.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Next up is the tip that I Probably should have considered when I was referencing back my worst public speaking moment to date. Let's hope that continues to be my worst one because I'm not trying to have some more bad public speaking experiences. But this tip is to consider your audience. I didn't know who my audience was.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I didn't know that there were going to be faculty in addition to grad students and undergrads. In my mind, I thought it was going to be an Interdisciplinary audience, folks from across disciplines. I thought it was going to be mostly grad students. Little did I know that there would be some senior faculty there trying to grill us.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So considering your audience is important. [00:14:00] Why is it also important? It's not just that you It's also important so that you can better tailor your presentation. You can give more tailored examples. One of the things that I do in my talks and workshops is that I don't give the exact same cookie cutter examples when I talk.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I usually vary them. So I think to myself, okay, who's my audience? Are they undergrads? Are they grad students? Are they working professionals? And then based on that context, I will change up the examples that I share about my life as someone who has also been in their shoes and held those same roles. Now, the fifth tip that I'm going to offer you is that if it's possible to share parts of your story, because I want to remind you that storytelling is powerful.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: No matter what, for most of my speaking engagements, like I said, if I [00:15:00] can, I usually share a bit about my backstory. And I do this because I know that it helps people to have a better understanding of the context behind who I am, what I do, and why I do what I do, why I'm so passionate about what I do. So in your case, consider that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Consider like, what is the type of speaking engagement you have? Is it possible to share your story? And if so, how much of your story can you share based on this context or based on this type of presentation you're giving. And don't forget just how powerful storytelling is because you never really know what part of your story someone else is going to connect to.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And storytelling helps us connect with others, helps us relate with others. And wouldn't you want to use this as an opportunity to better connect with others? I know I want to connect with others. I [00:16:00] know I want to connect with my audience. So please, if you can, if you're willing to, if you feel safe enough to do so, share parts of your story.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Okay, so now I'm going to give you a little bonus tip because I want to see if you saw what I noted. I mean, I want to see If you notice what I did at the beginning of today's episode, what did I do? Well, yeah, I said, okay, we're talking about this episode, but then I went into, let me tell you about my worst moment.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I don't know about you, but if someone told me they were going to tell me about their worst moment of whatever, my chismosa self would be tuning in. My ears would be perked up. What was that? And how is that related to public speaking? Now that. Was a hook. And that's my next tip is to not forget to add a hook in your presentations.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:17:00] A hook is a memorable statement, antidote, or question that draws your audience in, that gets your attention and makes them want to hear more from you. So when I told you this was my worst public experience, and no, it wasn't related to theater, and no, it wasn't in college, and yes, it did happen in grad school, some of you, your ears perked up too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And if that happened to you, that means that the hook was on you. was successful. Some of you, it probably went in one ear, out the other. Maybe you didn't even notice or pay attention. Maybe you were doing something else and didn't catch that part of it and now you want to catch it. So you're going to rewind.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That's okay. Um, but if you found that that was an interesting little snippet, little story, then the hook was successful. Not all hooks are successful for everyone, but if you can [00:18:00] captivate more people with a hook than fewer people with no hook, then I recommend trying it out. If you're not sure about what hooks are, how to add hooks in your presentations, or just how to add hooks in general to captivate any audience, I highly recommend you check out episode 255.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I recently talked about this. That episode is all about hooks and how to captivate audiences. I'll link it in the show notes so that way you can learn more about that. Those are my public speaking tips, and now I gotta listen to my own advice because I have two public speaking engagements coming up within the next couple of weeks.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: In fact, one of them is this week. By the time you listen to this episode, it will be over, and another one is coming up, um, a couple weeks from now. So, More speaking engagements to come. If you would [00:19:00] like to hire me as a speaker, I'm still accepting speaking engagements for this year. Check out my website to learn more or send me an email.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm happy to send you more details. I give workshops on anything related to Applying to grad school and grad school admissions, sustainable productivity and work life balance, and personal development and personal growth. So if you're interested in any of those topics, reach out. All right, that's it for today's episode, and I hope you all have a good rest of your day.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thanks so much for joining me in the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. If you like what you heard, here are four ways you can support the show. The first is to make sure you're subscribed and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you email me a screenshot, I'll send you a surprise freebie. The second way is to get [00:20:00] your copy of my free Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school. You can access it at the link in today's show notes. The third way to support my show is to follow me on social media. You can find me on Instagram with the handle at grad school, femtoring and on LinkedIn by searching my name.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: The last way to show your love is to order a copy of is grad school for me. My graduate school admissions book for first gen BIPOCs. Thanks again for listening and until next time.

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