18 public speaking terms you must know

February 12, 2023

3 min read

Public speaking is an important skill to have in the modern world. Whether you’re giving a presentation at work or delivering a speech for your college commencement, having strong public speaking skills can make all the difference. To help you hone your public speaking abilities, here are 18 common terms related to public speaking that you should know. From active listening to vocal variety and more, these terms will equip you with the knowledge needed to become an effective speaker!

How you can practice all 18 public speaking terms

Consider signing up for Yoodli, an AI powered speech coach where you can practice each of these terms without the pressure of an audience. Yoodli is free of cost and being rolled out to 300k+ Toastmasters members globally.

Active Listening

This refers to the practice of listening carefully and deliberately to the speaker without interruption or judgment. It’s an important skill to have in any public speaking setting as it allows you to better understand the message being communicated.

Audience Analysis (the most important public speaking term)

Before crafting a speech, it’s essential to understand the audience. Audience analysis helps identify factors such as age, gender, beliefs and interests that can inform your message.


Nonverbal cues such as gestures, posture and facial expressions are important in public speaking as they can help convey your message more effectively than words alone.


This refers to the practice of breaking down a speech into small, manageable segments (it’s a public speaking term used with debate students as well). Doing this helps reduce the cognitive load and make it easier for your audience to comprehend and remember your message.

Enthusiasm (our favorite public speaking term!)

Enthusiasm is key in public speaking as it allows you to engage with your audience more effectively. When presenting, try to be passionate and energetic about your topic.

Eye Contact

Establishing eye contact is a key aspect of public speaking as it helps build a connection with the audience and shows that you are confident in your message.

Filler Words

Filler words such as “uh”, “um” and “like” are common in public speaking but should be avoided as they can make it difficult to understand your message.

Filler words explainer video


Incorporating humor into a speech can help break the ice and make your topic more relatable and memorable to the audience. Just make sure that it’s appropriate for the context.

Impromptu Speech

Speech that has been prepared in advance but does not have to follow a specific structure or outline. It can be used for practice and improvisation for future public speaking engagements.


Using vocal inflections like rising and falling tones can help emphasize certain points in your speech, making it easier for your audience to follow what you’re saying.

Nonverbal Cues

These are gestures and facial expressions used to communicate with your audience. Examples include smiling, nodding, leaning forward and more.


Pausing briefly throughout a speech allows the audience time to process what you’ve said and emphasizes important points. Just don’t pause for too long as it can be distracting to the audience.


In addition, questions and answers (Q&A) is a common feature of public speaking events in which the audience can ask questions about the speech or topic being presented.

Rhetorical Questions

Asking the audience questions can help engage them in your presentation and make it more interesting. However, only use rhetorical questions to keep your speech flowing.


This is a technique used to emphasize key points throughout a speech by using words or phrases that “signal” to the audience that an important point is coming up.


Next, telling stories can be a powerful way to connect with your audience and make your message more memorable. Ensure they’re short, relevant and appropriate for the context.

Vocal Variety

Varying your pitch, volume, speed and intonation. This help keep your audience engaged and make it easier for them to follow your message.

Visual Aids

Using visual aids such as slides, videos or props can help reinforce your points and make them more memorable for the audience – public speaking term here is to use them strategically. Just don’t overuse them as they can be distracting.

Public speaking terms – how to improve

In addition, Practice, practice, practice. Either record yourself on camera or try in front of a mirror. If you’d like, consider practicing on Yoodli’s judgement free AI speech coach. By following these public speaking terms and tips, you can ensure that your next public speaking engagement will be a success! Good luck and happy presenting!


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