Public Speaking Overview

Public Speaking: one of the most common fears that can make one’s palms sweat. Deliberately structured with three general purposes - to inform, persuade and entertain - public speaking is commonly understood as formal, face-to-face speaking of a single person to a group of listeners.

There are five basic elements of public speaking; Laswell’s model of communication describes them as the communicator, message, medium, audience and effect. In short, the speaker should be answering the question "who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?"

Public speaking organizational pattern is known as the pyramid style which helps us prepare and deliver effective presentations:

Public Speaking

The public Speaking Pyramid | Credit: SAFETY4SEA

How to reduce the fear of public speaking: 7 tips

  1. Pick a topic that you really care about

Whichever topic you choose, be sure that it matches your passion or really concerns you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I know so much about?
  • What do I love so much that I could speak about it for hours?
  1. Know your audience
  • What do they know about the subject?
  • What do they care about?
  • What aspect of your subject would be most interesting for them?

Take into account the above and do not hesitate to surprise your audience with a question!

  1. Organize your material

You are about to present a “story”, using PowerPoint. First you need to structure the presentation and then include insights as well as supporting visual data.  Use audiovisual aids wisely; remember it’s you that they need to focus on!

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice:
  • Use rehearsal techniques: watch yourself on the mirror and get prepared so that you could answer any possible question thrown at you from the audience.
  • Meditate: Meditation is a way to recognize and take the right measures to manage stress. Several meditation exercises have been designed to develop mindfulness meditation. This technique can fuel performance by managing distressing emotions such as feeling out of control, jumping from one thought to the next or ruminating on negative thoughts by physically altering brain. It is of essence therefore to exercise mindfulness meditation before a public speaking.
  • Find a great coach or mentor to learn the art of public speaking! The value of mentoring is becoming increasingly recognized in almost every industry, mostly because of the impact mentoring can have on the achievement of organizational goals.
  1. Use pauses to add power into your presentation

There are 4 kinds of speech pauses

  • sense pause: to allow people to absorb the new information and catch up with you
  • dramatic pause: to make a point stick in the listener’s minds
  • emphatic pause: to emphasize an important point
  • sentence-completion pause: to make a statement or quote a line in which everyone is familiar, then let the audience answer it for you

  1. Use body language effectively
  • Watch your body position: Always be aware of the ways of creating crosses with your body.
  • Make eye contact: Eyes mirror people’s soul. Don't be afraid to look audience in the eyes. Not only will you say a lot by doing so, but you might also learn a lot.
  • Relax your shoulders: Holding your shoulders by your ears is a sign of tension. Relax, but make sure you're not slouching.
  • Keep your hands visible: Do not hold your hands in your pockets. Though comfortable, it can indicate boredom or over-confidence. On the other hand, holding your arms behind your back with your hands clasped is a sign of confidence. This is great for public speaking!
  • Relax: Adjusting your body language might feel unnatural at first. Applying the aforesaid techniques over time, you'll communicate everything you want with your body!
  1. Be yourself!

cyber security in shipping industry


  • 70% of all jobs involve some form of public speaking
  • The average person ranks the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death.



About Apostolos Belokas

Apostolos is a Maritime Safety, Quality & Environmental Expert, Consultant, Trainer and Project Manager with more than a 20-year background in shipping as Technical, Marine, Safety & Training Superintendent and Consultant. He entered the industry back in early 90’s as Engineering Superintendent with a leading ship manager operating a mixed fleet of bulk and oil/chemical tankers. He then shifted to regulatory compliance and QHSE as superintendent and later as a Consultant and Trainer. Apostolos has successfully completed a wide range of QHSE projects including 250+ management system projects (ISM/ISO 9001-14001-18001/TMSA/MLC), 500 vessel and office audits to various standards and he has trained more than 8,000 people in a wide variety of QHSE subjects. He has also presented and chaired to more than 40 conferences. He holds Mechanical Engineering Bachelor and Master’s specialising in Energy & Environment and Master’s Degree in Maritime Business and Business Administration (MBA), all of them awarded with distinction. Apostolos is the Managing Director of SQE MARINE, SQE ACADEMY and Managing Editor of SAFETY4SEA. 

Tell us what you think!

Which are your tips to reduce the fear of public speaking?