Tips for public speaking for students who want to pursue B.A. (Hons.) English Literature

It would not be wrong to say that communication is the first step to climb the success ladder no matter in which sector you work. One of the most dreaded forms of communication is public speaking. Effective public speaking skills can help with career advancement. Students who wish to pursue B.A. (Hons.) English Literature should hone this skill to stand out at work. Speaking up in meetings, promoting your ideas and presenting yourself as a professional has become important in today’s competitive world.

Here are some tips that will help you hone public speaking skills and deliver memorable speeches:

  1. Practise and prepare: This is what Tony Robbins, American author, coach, speaker, and philanthropist, has to say about public speaking — “It’s what you practice in private that you will be rewarded for in public.” Just like any other skill, public speaking can be acquired, learned, and honed over a period of time. Every great speech starts with practice. All great speakers practice their speeches beforehand. You can practise with family or friends. At best, you can use a recording device or video camera. Practising helps you understand the following things:
  • There’s clarity in your diction
  • You are not speaking hurriedly
  • Your speech has a good structure
  • You are talking to the audience and not reading out
  1. Know your audience: Often people wrongly think that public speaking is about them. However, public speaking is more about the people for whom the message is intended. If they do not understand what is being said, no matter how eloquent the speech it has failed to serve its purpose.
  • Learn as much about your listeners as you can
  • Choose words as per the audience. For instance, the choice of words will be different for a group of school students from that of professionals.
  • Level of information you want to give
  • Know what motivates the audience
  1. Create a framework: “Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident.” – Dale Carnegie, the best-selling author of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. Carnegie, the person who has people across the world to grasp how powerful interpersonal skills and public speaking could be to one’s life, says that public speaking and storytelling go hand-in-hand. Connecting what you are saying with an anecdote is a great way to get your audience engaged in your story. For this, Carnegie said one needs to prepare an outline that helps:
  • Choose the right words
  • Highlight call to action
  • Captivate the audience with engaging language
  1. Work on your gestures: One of the most powerful political orators, former US president Barack Obama uses hand gestures when he wants to emphasise a point. Many confident speakers use hand gestures and smile to pause, show confidence, and punctuate sentences. While non-verbal cues are important, nervous hand gestures can distract the audience.
  2. Time the pauses: “The most precious things in speech are the… pauses.”– Sir Ralph Richardson, British actor. The ‘huh’ and ‘hmns can be a real distraction for the audience. A crucial of good public speaking is to avoid fillers and introduce well-timed pauses. These pauses let the audience understand the point before you move on to the next one.


English being a universal language and having a command over it can help not in just public speaking but throughout the career. After completing BA (Hons) English, students can opt for careers in media, advertising, publishing, journalism, public relations and teaching. Our three-year BA (Honours) English Literature program is designed to help students analyse English Literature beyond its traditional concepts.

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