top of page

46. Public Speaking Basics: 3 Steps to Above Average Public Speaking: 7. Basic skills to master: Par

The previous weeks answered, I hope some of the basic questions on the topic of Public Speaking.

Today and the next 2 weeks will focus on the Basics that anyone can master. These basic skills are so basic, you might wonder, " Huh? How can such simple stuff make a difference?"

Let me assure you that big things happen when little things are done well, and done consistently.

For this week and the next 2, we will focus on the acronym of CHESS.

Today we will look at Physical matters. Next week, we explore Attitude Matters and the following week, matters on materials used.

For the Physical Basics, CHESS stands for:

C - Clothes

H - Hands

E - Eyes

S - Stance

S - Smile


Your clothes speak to the audience even before you utter a single word. Now don't get me wrong, you don't have to always dress as if you are going for Black Tie dinners, with tuxedos, suits, etc all the time. But you definitely need to dress appropriately, depending on where you are, the organisation you are working for, or the audience you are addressing.

If you work in a bank, for instance, you are most likely required to follow a certain dress code while at work, usually in office or business attire. If you work for a retail or food and beverage outlet that has a uniform, you will be required to dress in that uniform.

If you are addressing a group of surfers by the beach, conducting teambuilding activities for them, you may be overdressed if you appear in a suit or even long sleeved shirt.

If you are giving a speech at a Lions Club where formal wear is required, and you come in shorts and slippers, you may be underdressed.

Cultural knowledge will also help when it comes to public speaking in special occasions. For example if you are the guest speaker at a funeral, you should more likely than not attend in black, or some dark coloured theme.

Having covered the above regarding dressing apropriately, you may then explore the need to project a type of image or brand for yourself. Personal branding might come in handy if you intend to portray yourself as a certain kind of speaker. If you intend to appear professional and formal, you may more often than not come in a dark suit, with accompanying tie to match. If you want to apear relaxed in most cases, and your talks are usually informal and requires teambuilding activities, you may choose to be garbed in a comfortable collared T-shirt and jeans.


Many people, when speaking, do not know what to do with their hands. As this can be a whole topic by itself, I'll just give a few dos and don'ts.


  • Hold both hands open with palms up at waist level and gesture the hands around when you are making points.

  • Put them relaxed by your sides if there is no need to gesture.

  • Hold on to a microphone or a pen / pointer as they may keep your hands busy while keeping you looking confident.


  • Put your hands in your pocket

  • Jingle your car keys / coins in your pocket

  • Clasp them together in front of your crotch.


Build rapport by sharing eye contact generously across your audience. Don't stare at anyone in particular, but also don't sweep your eyes too fast across the people as well, as if you are barely glancing at them.

As you speak, look at the persons generally to one side, complete a sentence, then move on. Cover first one side, then the middle, then the other side of the audience. The idea is to let the audience know you are speaking to all of them, not merely a few of them. It doesn't matter if you are really looking at everyone, you just need to share your eye contact with as many as you can.

Eye contact indicates friendliness. Eye contact also develops rapport with your audience. When used together with Smiles, the combination is powerful and can build your confidence.


How you stand seems simplistic, but it affects so much that I just have to say something about it.

Always stand straight with your two feet planted firmly on the ground approx shoulder length apart, or slightly closer, but don’t close your legs together. When speaking try not to move your feet too much. You may move one step in front to make a point, or a few clear steps to one side while illustrating an idea. Every movement should have a reason. Don't sway to and from from one foot to another, left to right or back to front.


Smiling to your audience has so many benefits, and it does not cost anything. So be generous with your smile, unless of course your topic requires you to be serious. Even then, a simple smile to your audience once in a while is always appreciated by the people.

Smiling, together with the appropriate levels of eye contact, when shared confidently, projects confidence and friendliness to the people around you. Don't smile mischeviously as if you are about to play a prank.

A genuine smile evokes trust and will make the audience listen better to you.

When the audience genuinely listens to you, you in turn actually can gain confidence from the trust that has been bestowed upon you.


These little steps are applicable no matter what you do for public speaking, whether you speak in front of 2 people 20 people 200 people or 2000 people.

Strive to master these every chance you get and you are one step closer being an above average public speaker.

Next week we will explore some Attitude Matters

Featured Posts
Check back soon
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page