The best way to get better at public speaking is to simply do it. I highly recommend Toastmasters. You can probably find one close to you that meets convenient to a time for you. You'll learn how to construct and give speeches in front of a group of people who want you to be successful in speech-giving. the books guide you though how to and the other members encourage and help you through constructive, helpful critiques.
Not only that, you can also learn some leadership skills. Plus, Toastmasters is international and most employers know what it is (or think they do). It looks good on a resume!
And never, ever sell yourself short. I bet you're better at public speaking than you think you are. How can I say that? You've asked the question about improving it...so, you know you can be better. Don't ever let speaking to a group intimidate you. When you give a speech, 99% of the audience wants you to do well...they are routing for you. The 1% doesn't matter...GO FOR IT!
Here's a few things I have done to improve my public speaking ability. I have listened to people across all fields in how they speak. Many times shutting my eyes to just hear the cadence, tone, vocabulary and story telling to take note of these items and how to improve myself in those areas. In addition, seeking out individuals across many career spaces via TedTalk to online research to listen and watch how they interact during public speaking. Taking in these learnings has helped me to incorporate different approaches that have helped me to improve and get better at public speaking, along with practicing as much as possible before I have to publicly speak. I find it at times the practice input is longer than what my output time of speech/preso might be but so much more valuable to be confidence and ability to really leave the the right impression.
There are 2 things that can help you become a better/great public speaker:
1-Learn techniques: Essentials of being a public speaker ( how to maintain eye contact, giving even attention to audience, positive body posture and gesture, managing your tone , proper time allocation to different part of your speech, send the message successfully to audience, ....)-
There are tons of things to pay attention to in terms of the technicality which you can learn from online/in person courses, free youtube videos
2- Another important aspect is the execution: now that you have the skills you need it's time to work on delivery
It can be stressful to speak before an audience specially if you're not used to it.
Try to practice as much as you can. start with your small and safe audience : Family and/or friends. As you practice expand your audience ( in terms of number of people as well as familiarity)- step out of your comfort zone and try to deliver speeches to strangers
I hope this helps with your process
Then, think about your audience. Who are they? What do they care about? Where can you connect with them?
Then, and this is big, think about these 3 things:
1. What do you need them to know? (1 big idea is best. A good structure can be to then think about three things that support that big idea)
2. How do you want them to feel? (How will they feel coming in? How do you want them to feel going out of your presentation?). And,
3. What do you need them to do?
You should change your audience. They should leave thinking, feeling, and doing something different. That's a tall order but it actually helps a lot to give yourself goals like those. It takes the pressure off of you and helps you evaluate if you're getting the job done too. Try it.s you get better, you'll gain confidence and it will all become more fun. Enjoy!
As many others have said the best way to get better at anything is to practice. Youtube is a great resource thats full of great tips for public speaking and anything else you want to learn. You should then practice those lessons on friends and family until you feel more comfortable. One additional point to make sure you are knowledgeable about the topic you are speaking about. You will be more confident (and come across more confident as well).
1. Select a topic
2. Research the topic
3. Prepare a brief outline
4. Practice, practice, practice your presentation.
Try not to read your presentation, but focus on the ideas and speak extemporaneously, Finally when you speak focus on the topic and not yourself.
I applaud you for seeking responses on this topic. The fact that you are open to feedback says a lot about you already. You're ready for this.
Know though, that there is power in self reflection since we are our own worse critics. I record myself presenting daily at least a week before my official presentation, that way I have a good grasp on my topic, can eliminate the useless words ( I say 'amm' a lot), and can really perfect such things as pace, tone, posture. In this day of virtual, you'll be amazed how much you can improve just by recording and reviewing yourself practicing, even on your phone, and playing the recording back.
Lastly, be sure you have notes/index cards/whatever you choose at hand just to make sure you're covered if nerves creep up. They do at some point or another, especially starting out.
You've got what it takes. Now, take control!! I'm rooting for you, Neil.
Like previously mentioned, the best way to get better at public speaking is just to do it, and do it frequently! Practice makes perfect rings completely true in cases like these.
From personal experience, practicing in front of friends & family helped me the most. When you have an audience who is open and willing to provide honest and constructive feedback and is patient enough to watch you run through it (more than once) till your comfortable, that is the best environment to improve your platform skills. The more knowledgeable and confident you are in what you're speaking to, the better, as well, so reiterate the high-level points till they're drilled into your memory!
Also, don't ever be put off by the nerves. I've been recognized for my ability to speak publicly with confidence, but I can promise you that I never feel 100% ready before speaking! It's okay to get nervous, it's okay to get the 'shakes', but remember your confidence in the material you're sharing. The way a former boss used to put it to me was 'Kristen, this is YOUR business, this is YOUR store, you know it better than anyone. You're just giving them a tour!"
If it's a matter of being worried about stuttering or getting tongue-tied, practice reading aloud frequently to yourself and to others!
Hope this helps,