Motivational and Public Speaking 101

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Course Description

Public and Motivational speaking is often a cause for anxiety for millions of people, and it need not be. With the proper preparation, knowledge, and mindset, you can become an extremely effective public speaker.

Public and motivational speakers are in very high demand in today's society, and they are a part of nearly everyone's daily life. Effective public speaking opens many opportunities for those willing to increase their ability in this important skill. 

In this course, you will learn how to deliver your message clearly to an audience. We will include advice from professionals on how to inform, entertain, and motivate an audience into action. This advice includes how to combat stage fright and banish it forever, what elements to include in an effective speech, how to research an audience before you arrive, how to develop your own style, how to organize a speech's structure, how and when to use visual aids, how to control and train your voice, and more. 

We will also cover other aspects of public speaking such as nonverbal communication, and how to best prepare yourself questions from an audience. Other topics include how to give your best delivery when problems arise and how to deal with foreign audiences. This comprehensive course will give you the self-confidence you need to be an excellent speaker. 

In scientific terms, it is called the "fight or flight syndrome," and we all know it well: the racing heartbeat, the sweaty palms, and the feeling of heightened anxiety. In common parlance, many public speakers - both beginners and experienced orators - know this feeling as stage fright. The sudden release of the hormone adrenaline causes our body to prepare itself for quick responses and enables us to defend ourselves better.

It is not unusual to have stage fright. In fact, almost all speakers, even politicians who must speak in front of large crowds and television cameras on an almost daily basis experience some sort of stage fright. However, professional speakers know how to channel their anxiety and use this rush adrenaline to their advantage. 

As difficult as it might be to believe, a recent survey reported that there are more people who fear public speaking than those who fear death! This fear of public speaking is mostly an anticipatory fear. Many speakers overcome their fear the moment they stand in front of a podium. It is the anticipation of their speech that causes them the most anxiety. In this chapter, we will examine some of the causes of stage fright, or performance anxiety, and we will learn methods to combat them.  
Reasons for Stage Fright and Strategies to Combat Them 
Fear 1. Fear of the Audience 
The first, and most obvious, reason that most people have stage fright is because they fear their upcoming audience. Even if we have spoken to the same audience several times, we irrationally conclude that the audience wants us to fail or that they dislike us. The great irony is that virtually all audiences enjoy listening to a speech. They are present to be entertained or to be informed; in the majority of circumstances, they want to be present and they want you, the speaker, to succeed. When audiences detect some nervousness from the speaker, they are usually supportive and make a conscious effort to make the speaker feel more comfortable.


Embrace your subject matter. Instead of thinking about how you are going to compare to the speaker before you or how you are going to be perceived as a speaker, concentrate on your subject matter. Get excited about it. Your enthusiasm will show and your speech will benefit enormously.

Realize that the audience is not your enemy. Get to know your audience before you arrive to deliver your speech. Do your homework. We will devote an entire chapter to this strategy because delivering a good speech is directly proportional to how well you know your audience. Remember that, in virtually all instances, your audience has sought you. They want to hear your speech because you are most likely speaking about a topic that interests them.


Remember that you are the expert. There is a reason why you were chosen to give the speech and not someone else; you are the expert. You know material that you are going to discuss. You might not have every word written down yet, but you instinctively know what you are going to say.

Think of the audience in a crazy, offbeat manner. Almost everyone who has prepared to give a speech has heard the old strategy of imagining the audience in their underwear. Well, guess what, it works. Famous politicians use this strategy frequently, in fact. Naturally, you will want to be careful not to pick a scenario that will make you hysterical on stage, but this strategy does relax many people. 
Fear 2. Fear of Delivering a Bad Speech  
The fear of delivering a poor speech, one that you think will bore an audience or worse, is a very potent fear, but it is actually the easiest fear to overcome. As we discussed when we examined the fear of your audience, you must remember that you are the expert. You know the subject matter. Thus, you have control over this fear.


Research your speech. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be. Writing a good speech does not just mean fine tuning it so that it has excellent grammar and style, although both of these considerations are very important. A well written speech is one that has all the elements that your audience is seeking. They may seek information, in which case you must have all the facts. They may seek to be entertained, and that will require research as well, knowing local politics or events is often a treasure trove of humorous material.

Practice your speech. The more you practice your speech, the more comfortable you will be when it is time to deliver it. Yes, this sounds so elementary, but many speakers make the mistake of not rehearsing their speeches. Practice in front of other people, if possible, so that you can receive feedback from them. 
Fear 3. Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is an extremely broad fear. We feel it in almost every aspect of our lives from time to time. Even the most confident people among us have been haunted by the fear of not living up to their own expectations. However, expectations are often too high, and this is the root cause of most people's fear of failure.


Confront your fears. You need to understand your fear fully. What exactly do you think you will do or say incorrectly? Write it down. If you do not know exactly what you are afraid of, use stream-of-consciousness writing, write whatever comes to your mind, and do not worry about what it sounds like. After you have listed all your fears explicitly, examine each one and confront it. Do not let it overcome you. You are in charge. You may be surprised at some of the fears that you have written. Some of them will seem inconsequential after you have made the commitment to overcome them.

The audience does not know most of our fears.  We may think that every single person in the room is perfectly aware of every single imperfection in our voice, our pronunciation, our clothes, and so on. However, the absolute truth is that virtually every audience member will have no idea what you fear. Knowing this, and fully understanding it, is one of the most powerful weapons against fear of failure.

Picture yourself succeeding. Another strategy in combating fear of failure is simply to picture yourself in the opposite situation, success. If you firmly believe that you will trip on your way to the podium, you just might! We often have the will to make things happen if we firmly believe in them. So picture yourself in a confident, positive manner.  

General Strategies for Combating Stage Fright

In addition to the strategies above, which are for specific fears, there are many ways to overcome your fear of speaking in front of an audience.

Release some of your nervous energy. Exercise each day for a few days before your speech. On the day of your speech, take a walk and clear your mind. Physical activity will certainly help you calm down and channel your energy.

Do not show your hands while speaking. Leave your hands on the podium. There is no reason that people need to see them. If your hands are shaking slightly, you may become more nervous if you think people can see them. For this reason, your notes should also be kept flat on the podium and you should avoid using a hand held microphone. However, audience members do not typically perceive nervous body language to the extent that speakers think they do.

Breathe! Yes, breathing is important! Fast, shallow breathing will only make the adrenaline rush worsen. Take deep, slow breaths, and do not breathe through your mouth. Breathe through your nose in a slow, controlled manner.Speak slowly. Especially if you are a first time speaker, remember to speak slowly. In fact, what you may think is speaking far too slowly is probably the right tempo. We tend to speak far too fast when we are nervous.

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    Course Lessons

    Average Lesson Rating:
    4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
    "Extraordinarily Helpful"
    (1,272 votes)

    Lesson 1. Confronting Your Fears

    In scientific terms, it is called the "fight or flight syndrome," and we all know it well: the racing heartbeat, the sweaty palms, and the feeling of heightened anxiety. 10 Total Points
    • Lesson 1 Video
    • Take Poll: Anxiety and Public Speaking
    • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
    • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 1: Confronting Your Fears

    Lesson 2. Characteristics of Effective Communication

    In this chapter, we will examine what traits are required for effective communication, but it will be helpful to first clearly define communication. 10 Total Points
    • Lesson 2 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 2: Characteristics of Effective Communication

    Lesson 3. Knowing Your Audience

    One of the most important and fundamental steps before delivering a speech is for a speaker to know the needs of their audience. 10 Total Points
    • Lesson 3 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 3: Knowing Your Audience

    Lesson 4. Choosing the Topic and Structure of a Speech

    Even if you have been invited to give a speech and have been given some general guidelines on what to cover in your speech,it is entirely up to you to choose the theme and to keep focused on this theme throughout your entire speech. 9 Total Points
    • Lesson 4 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 4: Choosing the Topic and Structure of a Speech

    Lesson 5. Persuasive and Motivational Speech Principles

    Effective motivational speakers are in extremely high demand. Companies need them to sell their products, and organizations need them to deliver their message to a sometimes hard-to-reach audience. 8 Total Points
    • Lesson 5 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 5: Persuasive and Motivational Speech Principles

    Lesson 6. Developing Your Style

    Every person is unique and, therefore, everyone has their own style of public speaking. 8 Total Points
    • Lesson 6 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 6: Developing Your Style

    Lesson 7. Outlining and Organizing Your Speech

    In addition to ensuring that your main points are expressed, an outline will have a significant effect on decreasing your anxiety in giving a speech. 9 Total Points
    • Lesson 7 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 7: Outlining and Organizing Your Speech

    Lesson 8. Writing Your Speech. The Opener

    In this chapter, you will learn how to best introduce yourself that is appropriate for your audience, your topic, and your style. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 8 Video
    • Take Poll: Openers
    • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 8: Writing Your Speech: The Opener

    Lesson 9. Writing Your Speech. The Body and Conclusion

    In this chapter, we will briefly discuss the writing process for drafting the body of your speech and its conclusion by using various literary and rhetorical methods. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 9 Video
    • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 9: Writing Your Speech: The Body and Conclusion

    Lesson 10. Speaking to Entertain an Audience

    Not all speeches need to inform or motivate an audience, but entertaining speeches, just like all other types of speeches, still need to follow some organizational structure. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 10 Video
    • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 10: Speaking to Entertain an Audience

    Lesson 11. How and When to Use Visual Aids

    In this chapter, we will discuss how to effectively use visual aids and when it is necessary to use them. 10 Total Points
    • Lesson 11 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 11: How and When to Use Visual Aids

    Lesson 12. Controlling Your Voice

    In this chapter, we will discuss your voice's quality, articulation, rate, pitch, rhythm, clarity, and inflection. 9 Total Points
    • Lesson 12 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 12: Controlling Your Voice

    Lesson 13. Rehearsing Your Speech

    One of the most important benefits of rehearsing a speech is the building of self-confidence. 10 Total Points
    • Lesson 13 Video
    • Take Poll: Rehearsing
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 13: Rehearsing Your Speech

    Lesson 14. Body Language and International Customs

    In this chapter, we will discuss how to use nonverbal communication effectively. 10 Total Points
    • Lesson 14 Video
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 14: Body Language and International Customs

    Lesson 15. Making Your Best Delivery Even When Problems Arise

    In the last chapter, we discussed how to approach the stage and give the audience a moment to look at you before you begin speaking. Smile, take a deep breath, and let us begin. 54 Total Points
    • Lesson 15 Video
    • Take Poll: What do you think about this course?
    • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
    • Complete Exam: Lesson 15: Making Your Best Delivery Even When Problems Arise
    • Complete: The Final Exam
    Total Course Points

    Learning Outcomes

    By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
    • Confront your fears of public speaking.
    • Describe characteristics of effective communication.
    • Know your audience.
    • Choose the topic and structure of a speech.
    • Describe persuasive and motivational speech principles.
    • Develop your own style.
    • Outline and organize your speech.
    • Demonstrate writing your speech.
    • Speak to entertain an audience.
    • Summarize how and when to use visual aids.
    • Control your voice.
    • Rehearse your speech.
    • Recognize body language and international customs.
    • Summarize ways to make your best delivery even when problems arise, and
    • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

    Additional Course Information

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    Course Title: Motivational and Public Speaking 101
    Course Number: 7550402
    Course Requirements: View Course Requirements
    Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (1,272 votes)
    Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
    Course Type: Motivational (Self-Paced, Online Class)
    CEU Value: 0.8 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
    CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
    Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
    Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
    Instructor: John Chouinard
    Syllabus: View Syllabus
    Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
    Course Fee: $50.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $75.00

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