Public Speaking and Presentation

Goals For Public Speaking: How To Set SMART Goals For Success

Public speaking is one of those skills that are used more times in your life than you might think. Your ability to speak to crowds large and small can serve you well, regardless of your career choice. Having goals for public speaking can ensure that you improve regularly.

The Importance of Setting Goals

Personal goals for public speaking will help you to make improvements. You’ll also ensure that you are gaining confidence when you get in front of a crowd.

goals for public speaking

As Plato once said, “A wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something.”

Essentially, be sure that you have a reason to be speaking to the crowd. No one wants to hear someone speaking just for the sake of filling a silent void.

It’s one of the top reasons why you should set a goal. Consider the following:

  • Why is what you have to say important?
  • How will your speech be relevant to your audience?
  • Why are you the one who should be speaking?

If you can answer each of those questions confidently, you’re halfway toward being ready to give your speech.

Your goal should be to constantly get better so that you’re less likely to have anxiety when giving an important speech.

SMART goals are always important. It’s not good enough to say that you want to be a public speaker. Get to the WHY.

Public speaking SMART goals examples include:
S (Specific) – You want your presentation to be more engaging.
M (Measurable) – You want to slow your speech down to a specific words per minute rate.
A (Attainable) – Establish a goal that is truly attainable, like keeping your speech to a certain amount of time.
R (Relevant) – Choose a topic that is well-researched so that it resonates with your audience.
T (Time-Bound) – Determine the time until your next speech so that you can have made improvements.

Now, you have your WHY. You can become a better public speaker. More importantly, people will look forward to hearing you give your speech.

The Goals of Public Speaking

Your goals of public speaking help you to improve. Whether you are giving presentations at work, speaking to the general public as a politician, or promoting yourself in a forum, you have to know how to speak.

Your audience demands that of you. If you lose your audience, you lose your need to speak publicly.

Your inability to speak in public can hurt your reputation and your ability to move forward. Some positions require you to speak to large crowds regularly.

If you’re suddenly asked to deliver a presentation, you need to be ready. It’s why you should always be working toward becoming better. Otherwise, you’re caught off guard and it could affect your performance.

goals for public speaking

As you speak, you should have at least one goal that you’re always working on.

If you have a speech coming up, you may also have a few added goals based on the requirements of the speech. The length of the speech and the subject matter may be where you need to spend the most time in preparation.

What are the 3 Main Goals of Public Speaking?

There are three goals for public speaking. These are goals you should have regardless of your speech, your audience, or how long you’ve been at it.

  • Inform. Inform audience with information so that they retain information that will pertain to their lives.
  • Persuade. Persuade audience to take action or support the idea that you are speaking about.
  • Entertain. Entertain your audience by providing enjoyable and captivating content to increase their engagement. 

There are many ways that you can achieve these goals.

  • When you are trying to be informational, do your research. Know about the topic through research as well as through your own personal experience.
  • When you wish to persuade your audience, be passionate about the subject and use calls to action so people know how they should act on the information you are giving them.
  • When you wish to entertain your audience, use humor, tell captivating stories, and tailor your content to suit the interests and tastes of your listeners.

7 Goals for Public Speaking

The public speaking goals examples can help you to figure out where you want to start. Your starting point can vary from others.

  • Have you ever taken a formal public speaking class?
  • How many public speeches have you given?
  • What is the feedback like when you give a speech?

Once you analyze these in detail, you can figure out where you are as a public speaker. You may have some of the examples below already figured out. The more experience you have, the more you have to dig into what will make you an even better speaker.

Here are some top examples of goals you can have to improve your public speaking skills. And don’t forget that each should be SMART so that you have attainable, time-specific goals to work on.

1. Overcome stage fright

goals for public speaking

Stage fright can be overwhelming and make you dread presentations and speeches. It all comes down to learning how to manage performance anxiety. The best thing that you can do is practice – in front of mirrors, friends, and smaller crowds.

SMART goal example: I will overcome my stage fright by attending a public speaking workshop and practicing my speech in front of friends at least once a week for the next two months leading up to the presentation date.

2. Control filler words

You’ll lose your audience if you use too many filler words throughout your speech. “Um,” “like,” “ugh” and “basically” are common. Record your speeches and listen for when you are guilty of them.

Have someone you know sit in the front row when you speak publicly. Create a signal so that they can tell you when you’re guilty of using those fillers.

SMART goal example: I aim to reduce my use of filler words during my public speaking engagements by 50% over the next three months. I will practice daily, recording and reviewing my speeches, while focusing on clear, concise language and thought transitions.

3. Provide a quality speech

A quality speech is one where you can get quality feedback at the end. People congratulate you on what they’ve learned. Consider how you can gauge quality with feedback cards and more so you can give people what they want.

SMART goal example: I aim to deliver a high-quality speech for the upcoming conference by dedicating 30 minutes each day over the next month to hone my public speaking skills, rehearse my content until I can comfortably present without prompts, and gather feedback from peers to ensure clarity and engagement.

4. Keep a speech to a manageable time

The 20-minute rule is important to maintain. It allows you to hold everyone’s attention and keep their focus. TED-Talks are 18 minutes long for a reason. If you go longer, you run the risk of losing their attention.

If you have been given a longer timeframe to speak, there are ways to avoid losing attention.

Take a break for a Q&A. Pause for a story or some audience interaction.

Then, go back in for another 20 minutes. Your audience will thank you when they can get a mental break.

5. Speak at an understandable rate

Your speech does no one any good if you speak too fast. The average speaking rate is 173 words per minute. If you’re concerned about speaking too fast, use a voice recorder to establish your speed of speech.

SMART goal example: I aim to improve the pace of my speech by consistently practicing speaking 150 words per minute. I will rehearse my upcoming presentation daily for two weeks prior to the delivery date to ensure comprehensibility and listener engagement.

6. Build a rapport with the audience

Connect with your audience with eye contact. Listen for clapping. Look for nodding.

A good rapport will ensure that you have captured everyone’s attention. People will look forward to hearing you speak the next time there’s an opportunity.

Memorizing your speech so that you’re less reliant on notes can help you to look into the audience more. It will allow you to “read” the audience so you know if/when you’re losing them.

SMART goal example: I aim to build stronger rapport with my audience by maintaining eye contact with at least half the attendees and looking for visible engagement, such as clapping or nodding, by meticulously rehearsing my presentation ten times prior.

7. Enhance your presence

goals for public speaking

Confidence is not only felt by you but your audience. If you are slouching, shuffling your papers, or disorganized in any way, your audience will tell. They’ll lose confidence in anything that you have to say, regardless of its importance.

Get in the habit of using a video recorder of all of your speeches. Watch them so that you can find out some of your bad habits.

SMART goal example: To enhance my public speaking presence, I aim to video record and review my speeches weekly for the next two months, focusing specifically on improving posture and body language for better audience engagement.

Final Thoughts

Speeches are given all the time. You may have to present to a group of 10 or provide a keynote to 1,000. Regardless, you have to make sure that you are ready – and capable of giving a memorable speech.

You need your speech to be memorable for all of the RIGHT reasons.

If people remember your speech because it ran long or because you fidgeted throughout, you may never get a chance to speak again. You may have also been unable to get your message across.

A successful speech is when you finish on time. It’s when everyone is engaged with what you’re talking about. And it’s when people come up to you afterward to congratulate you on a great speech – or when they go on and on about what you taught them.

Even the most seasoned public speakers are constantly learning. They record themselves. They watch footage of themselves. And they watch speeches of others to get ideas on how they can improve.

The only way to improve is by establishing goals. As you reach one goal, you set another. And another. And another after that.

It’s always evolving, ensuring that you push yourself to be the best speaker you can be.

The only thing you have to ask yourself now is: what will your first goal for public speaking be?

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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