Five Tips to Be a Better Public Speaker

Recent graduate offers insight for students looking to improve their communication skills.

The Department of Communications teaches you skills like interpersonal communication, conflict management, group leadership and public speaking.

Kristen Meadows says the skills she learned “could transfer to any field.”

Meadows spent her last semester at SUNY Brockport interning in the public speaking tutoring center, a place for communications students to get help and practice their planning and delivery.

“Getting better comes with time,” Meadows explained.

What are your tips for public speaking?


Make a bulleted outline, don’t write out your speech word for word.


When planning out your speech, start with the body first. Consider developing three main points. Then when the body is set, return to the introduction and conclusion.


If you’re nervous, you need to run through your speech numerous times before you go up and give it. Because you will see where you hit blocks and be able to smooth things out. The more you practice the more you are going to feel comfortable.


Picturing people naked doesn’t help. Instead, pick a spot in the room just over everyone’s heads. You don’t have to make as much eye contact and your eye line will make it seem like you’re looking at them.


Be mindful and watchful about the body language you’re giving.

What was one speech you gave that stands out?

“There was one speech on abortion, pro-choice,” Meadows said. “A lot of the students really liked it.” Meadows says she used specific stories, encouraged them to take action, and it was a bit controversial.

In the public speaking course, students are encouraged to choose their topics. “Choosing something that you’re interested in, knowledgeable or passionate about will help you succeed.”

How was your academic experience?

“My experience was wonderful. I worked with an amazing group of professors, in different departments as well. I really liked that it was a small student to teacher ratio. They cared very much about helping students succeed, they cared about your well-being, they cared about you as people. And that’s really important and makes you want to work harder in those classes.”