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47. Public Speaking Basics: 3 Steps to Above Average Public Speaking: 8. Basic skills to master: Par

Last week we covered the acronym CHESS and covered some basic skills from a physical perspective.

We looked at Clothes, Hands, Eyes, Stance and Smile.

Today, we continue with the 2nd set of skills to master, using the same acronym.

For the Attitude Basics, CHESS stands for:

C - Confident

H - Happy

E - Empathetic

S - Sincere

S - Sense of Humour


Having self confidence while you are public speaking helps a lot. It helps you be more stable in your presentation and it develops trust amongst your audience. How do we develop this sense of confidence, then?

Confidence comes when you are sure of yourself, and sure of your material, sure of your purpose, comfortable with your audience and reletively sure of answering any potential questions your audience may have.

So, to build confidence I recommend that you:

  • Know your points and materials inside out.

  • Rehearse your presentation as often as you need to become familiar with it.

  • Practice with the slides, using your pointer, using whatever microphone you will be using, at the stage that you will be on, until you are comfortable with them all.

  • Before the speech, if you have the time and opportunity, always take the trouble to greet your audience members as they step into the room. Be friendly, make new friends, be reacquainted with old ones.

  • During the speech, as you give eye contact, look towards those you are familiar with. As you speak smile at them.

  • Always remember why you are presenting this speech. The more sure you are with your purpose, the more confident you will be of your topic and the more sure of yourself you will be.


Now, no one can be deliriously happy at all times, but you don't have to be. But you definitely need to have a positive attitude every time you are preparing for and conducting a speech. You need to be optimistic that all will go well. You prepare for the worst, but you expect the best. Be ready to have fun. When you are enjoying your presentation, it will show in your facial expression and will definitely pierce through your body language. When the audience sees / feels your optimism, they will be infected with it too.


This means understanding where yopur audience is coming from. While our speeches are primarily given from our points of view, we need to be in the shoes of our audience as the speech is to be received from THEIR points of view. We therefore need to try to:

  • Listen to ourselves as how they would hear us;

  • Look at ourselves as how they would see us;

  • Perceive our speeches as how they would feel us;

  • Engage with our presentations as how they would experience us.

When we do this, we will reduce the chances of being rude, insensitive and politically incorrect. We will also put deposits into the audience's trust bank, making ourselves a little bit more real and worthy of a bit more attention.


Sincerity cannot be faked, it has to be genuine. How do we become sincere? How do we actively project sincerity? Well, we must truly believe that our content is worth sharing, that our points will impact the lives of our audience. When we do that, sincerity will automatically be within us.

Sense of humour

Last but not least, we need to have a good sense of humour. Now I am not saying you have to be a joker or a funny person all the time. Sometimes you just have to be serious.

However, humour has multi faceted benefits.

  • Firstly, you must be willing to laugh at yourself. When you practice and rehearse, and you make mistakes, don't get angry. Give yourself a quick laugh and tell yourself you can only get better. Then, learn from it and get better.

  • Next, whenever able, find a story, anecdote, illustration that can break the ice. If you can generate a smile or laugh from the audience, you are one big step toward building an audience who is behind you.

Never ever make fun of the audience. If you need to make fun of anyone, it can only be yourself.

You may say, "but I am not naturally funny". That’s true. It is not natural if it is not in you. So while this is not mandatory, read more about it, watch TED talks, humorous speeches and see if you can slowly develop it within you and your materials.

Trust me, it works.


While my list is definitely not exhaustive, I believe it can function as a comfortable starting point in bringing you in the direction of above average public speaking.

So remember CHESS for Attitude matters.

Next week we will look at the last set of basic skills we can all master…. Materials!

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