Mastering the Art of Public Speaking

Being able to effectively speak in public is essential for any current or aspiring leader, yet it is still daunting for nearly anyone. Based on UONGOZI Institute’s Leadership Workshop on ‘Mastering the Art of Public Speaking’, here are five quick tips for improving your skills:

  1. Practice, practice, practice

It might seem obvious, but if you know in advance that you will have to give a speech or statement then you should be practicing it as much as possible beforehand. Rehearsing in front of the mirror or friends will help you work out any kinks in your presentation and help you to feel more comfortable with what you would like to say. Reviewing your material will also help you to rely less on any notes you bring to your presentation, making you appear more confident and engaging to the audience.

  1. Know your audience

Speaking of the audience, you should make sure you are aware of who they will be prior to your speaking engagement so you can shape your presentation to the appropriate context. When it comes to public speaking, it is important to remember that it is really about the audience and what they will gain from hearing you speak. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, vs. what you are going to say, and craft your speech accordingly.

Is this a formal event where the presentation must remain serious throughout, or is it a group that would appreciate some humour? Thinking about this while preparing for your presentation will help you to win over the audience and thus gain confidence.

  1. Mistakes are natural

It is near impossible to make it through a speech without a single slip up, so don’t let one shake your confidence. Stopping mid-speech to apologize will only make your mistake more noticeable to the audience. Instead, you should continue on and push past a mistake since it is likely that no one will know if you missed a word or two aside from you. Being able to maintain composure even when in your head you think you’ve just ruined the whole presentation is the sign of an excellent public speaker.

  1. Don’t let your words or body run away from you

For some reason, when people begin speaking to an audience their speech speeds up tremendously without their even noticing. To prevent this from happening, intentionally try to speak slower than you usually would. This will help make sure that the audience can keep up with your presentation and will force you to more properly annunciate what you are saying. It is even okay to pause, if and when you need to, in order to collect your thoughts and regain the focus of the audience members.

Even though public speaking is all about the words being said, the way in which you say them can greatly impact how the audience receives them. Using hand gestures to emphasize points can be helpful for both drawing the audience in and also as an outlet for some of your nervous energy. Don’t, however let your nerves come out in your swaying back and forth or pacing. This much movement can prove distracting, so try to keep your feet planted and maintain a stance that looks natural. 

  1. Do keep things simple, yet engaging

As much as possible, keep things short and simple. Speeches that are too lengthy run the risk of losing your audience, and the same applies to speeches containing jargon and technical terminology that your audience can’t relate to.

Keeping your audience’s attention is imperative to the success of your speech. You can achieve this by using figures of speech such as  metaphors (see below) and anecdotes (telling short, preferably personal stories to illustrate a point).

Use of Metaphor:

“With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

– Martin Luther King

These simple tactics can make your speech more engaging and assist in conveying your message by using words that paint a picture for your audience.


‘’The Art of Public Speaking’ is a 2-day leadership workshop offered by UONGOZI Institute under The Commmunicative Leader module.

For more information on UONGOZI Institute’s leadership workshops, visit our website or email


For further guidance, you can watch any of the following videos:

Be A More Confident Public Speaker

Barack Obama’s 3 Best Public Speaking Tips

Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques

We hope you find these tips useful. Do you have any others? Please let us know in the comment section below.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

For the next few weeks, UONGOZI Institute will be running a special blog series on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We begin the series with this introductory post describing the SDGs and the processes that are underway to put the goals into action. The blog will feature in-depth pieces on each of the seventeen goals thereafter.


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were initiated as part of the outcome document drafted at the close of the Rio+20 conference, formally the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in June 2012. The United Nations member states were party to this document, titled The Future We Want, and mutually agreed that work must be done to establish the SDGs for the post-2015 development agenda. Now that the list of goals has been established, the United Nations General Assembly will meet in September of this year to formally approve the SDGs and put them into action. Thus, making all member states of the United Nations the actors responsible for the creation and execution of the SDGs.


The SDGs were drafted to serve as the guide to the global development agenda at the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. The MDGs were established in 2000 to align the global development agenda. As the MDGs wind down, the SDGs will be used instead as a basis for planning the next phase of development. The SDGs, however, will have a global focus, as opposed to the MDGs which focused solely on developing countries. As the United Nations approves the seventeen goals outlined to be the SDGs, Governments will likely incorporate them into their own national agendas as they did with the MDGs.


The work on creating the SDGs began in 2012, as mentioned above, at the behest of the Rio+20 meeting. Since then, an Open Working Group has spent a great deal of time conducting the necessary work to establish the seventeen goals in a proposal released in August 2014. Since then, there has been discussion and debate on the proposed goals in the lead up to their adoption in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly. The SDGs would therefore be enacted in 2015, with the timeline of achieving the goals through 2030.


The SDGs were drafted to continue the work begun under the auspices of the MDGs and refine the lessons learned from that fifteen year period of development. The goals are meant to help organize the numerous needs of the world at large in a way that helps countries and regions to focus on those which are most important for their future. By aligning the global narrative on development through the SDGs, the hope is that they can be achieved through partnership and mutual responsibility.


As mentioned throughout, there are seventeen goals currently proposed to make up the SDGs. These are: 1) End poverty in all forms everywhere; 2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; 3) Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; 4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; 5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; 6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; 7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; 8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; 9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; 10) Reduce inequality within and among countries; 11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; 12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; 13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; 14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; 15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss; 16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; and 17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. These goals will serve as the basis by which all development planning will be made throughout the next fifteen years. Seeing them through will be coordinated at all levels, from local governments to international agencies, based on what the goal entails.

More information:

The SDG Processes

UN Sustainable Development Goals Page

Sustainable Development Solutions Network


The Common African Position on Post-2015 Development Agenda

What is the UONGOZI Institute Blog?

Welcome to UONGOZI Institute’s blog, and as we say it here in Tanzania – Karibuni.

This blog will serve as an informal platform for the UONGOZI Institute (UI) to provide useful information, as well as encourage an exchange of ideas for those across the continent and beyond who are interested in issues of leadership and sustainable development in Africa.

Posts will cover a variety of topics surrounding those two themes, including useful information from UI’s research findings and television shows, and provide insights on capacity building through tips and tricks from UI’s training courses. There will also be periodic posts to announce UI events and relevant scholarships and fellowships advertised outside of UI, or other programs that could prove to be useful for the emerging generation of African leaders.

Lastly, reviews of books on topics of interest from the UONGOZI Institute Resource Center will be posted by UI staff to help provide recommendations for those interested in delving deeper into the material presented here. We also welcome guest posts from practitioners in fields related to any of the above mentioned topics.

If you are interested in contributing as a guest blogger, please email with “Guest Blog Post” as the subject line.

From those of us here at the UONGOZI Institute Blog, we hope to see you here weekly to join the dialogue on these important thematic issues. To make sure you are always aware of when a new post is freshly pressed, you can follow our blog by pressing the “Follow” button on the right hand side of the page.

Please see our “About” page to learn more about the UONGOZI Institute and be sure to visit our website.