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Guidelines for Public Speaking

ASPCA, National Shelter Outreach

General Guidelines For Public Speaking

In the Book of Lists, participants were asked to name their 14 worst fears: 41% said number one was speaking before a group.

Practicing is the primary key to better public speaking. Talk to anyone who will listen: Service clubs, businesses, neighborhood groups, colleges/schools…


  • Be yourself
  • Use graphics, visuals, handouts
  • Move around
  • Glance at your visuals, don’t study them
  • Be audience/age appropriate
  • Be brief and to the point


  • Don’t push too hard
  • Avoid using lecterns or podiums.
  • Don’t tell me, show me
  • Don’t script your speech
  • Never read your speech
  • Don’t sermonize
  • Don’t use cliches
  • Don’t tell inappropriate jokes
  • Use humor that suits you (natural not forced)
  • Use humor as a mental recess
  • Use humor as a bridge or transition.

Qualities of a skillful presenter:

  • Self-control
  • Poise
  • Awareness of people, time and place
  • Tact
  • Decisiveness
  • Persuasiveness
  • Enthusiasm
  • Flexibility
  • Honesty and directness

Questions and answers:

  • Give a time limit. Set guidelines
  • Repeat the question if you’re addressing a large group
  • Be concise and brief
  • Don’t argue with a questioner
  • Admit it if you don’t know the answer to a question
  • End the meeting on time

© 2001 ASPCA

Courtesy of

424 East 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128-6804


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