11 Speaking Etiquette Tips

Speaking Etiquette
When speaking, be polite, respectful, and concise. Listen actively, avoid interrupting, and maintain eye contact. Use appropriate language and tone, and cut filler words. Take turns speaking, and don't monopolize the conversation. Remember to express gratitude and apologize if needed.

1. Active Listening Wins

a group actively listening
A group actively listening

A good public speaker demonstrates respect, empathy, and understanding when actively listening to someone. Being a good listener helps to build stronger relationships and foster better communication.

One important aspect of active listening is avoiding the urge to interrupt or talk over the speaker. Interrupting is rude and disrespectful, disrupting the flow of the conversation.

You should practice patience and self-control to avoid talking over others. You can also use nonverbal cues, such as nodding, to show you are actively engaged in the conversation.

2. Cut Filler Words

Filler words and phrases are words or sounds we use when thinking of what to say next. Common filler words and phrases include “um,” “uh,” “like,” “you know,” “ah,” and “well.”

While these filler words may seem harmless, they can make you appear unconfident or unprofessional in your speech.

Here are some tips on how to reduce or eliminate them from your speech:

  • Identify filler words. Record yourself speaking or ask a friend to listen to you speak and identify your filler words.
  • Instead of using filler words, try pausing. A brief pause can give you time to think about what you want to say.
  • When you speak quickly, you are more likely to use filler words. Slowing down your speech can give you time to think and reduce the use of filler words.

3. Speak With Clarity

Proper diction and pronunciation ensure your message is clear and easy to understand. Your message may be lost or misunderstood if you mumble or slur your words.

For effective communication of ideas, you should:

  • Take your time when speaking, and pronounce each word clearly. 
  • Avoid using complicated or technical language that your audience may not understand. 
  • When presenting information, use visual aids such as charts, graphs, and images to help illustrate your points.

4. Watch Your Tone

The tone of voice can emphasize the importance of certain words or phrases, making them stand out and highlighting their significance in the message. Your audience can interpret your message in various ways depending on your tone.

It can convey emotions such as anger, frustration, joy, or sadness. These emotions can impact the message, influencing the listener’s response.

It also conveys your attitude towards the listener or the subject matter. For example, a friendly and engaging tone can convey warmth and openness. This can help grab the audience’s attention.

Tips for ensuring the tone matches the intended message:

  • Be aware of your emotions and how they may influence your tone. 
  • Think about the person or people you’re speaking to and how they may interpret your tone. 

5. Mind Your Body Language

Body language is a powerful tool that can impact the message. It includes gestures, posture, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues accompanying verbal communication. 

When used effectively, body language can help convey the intended message clearly and strengthen the impact of the spoken words. Inappropriate or inconsistent use can undermine the credibility and clarity of the idea, just like text messages.

Body language can reinforce or contradict the verbal message. For example, if someone says they are happy, but their facial expression and tone indicate otherwise, the audience may not receive the message as genuine.

Here are some tips for using body language effectively:

  • Eye contact with the person you communicate with shows interest and attentiveness. It also demonstrates confidence and sincerity.
  • Appropriate hand gestures help reinforce the verbal message and make it more engaging. 
  • Stand or sit up straight with your shoulders back and avoid slouching, which can convey a lack of confidence or interest.
  • A genuine smile conveys warmth, friendliness, and openness.

6. Show Respect And Politeness

Showing respect and politeness when speaking is crucial for maintaining positive relationships, building trust, and avoiding unnecessary conflicts. It helps create a harmonious and welcoming environment where people feel valued and respected.

Tips on how to show respect and politeness when speaking to others:

  • Always use polite language when speaking to others. This includes saying “please” and “thank you,” and using respectful titles such as “Mr.” or “Ms.”.
  • Listen actively to others and give them your full attention when they speak. This shows that you value their input and respect their opinions.

7. Steer Clear Of Controversial Topics

Conversations about controversial topics can divide people into groups, creating an “us vs. them” mentality

To gracefully steer conversations away from controversial topics, consider the following basic rules:

  • Change the subject to something more neutral. Ask about the person’s hobbies or interests or a recent movie or TV show.
  • Use a light-hearted joke to change the subject or to lighten the mood.

8. Keep It Balanced

Give everyone a chance to speak and participate in a conversation. This ensures everyone’s perspectives and ideas are heard and valued, leading to a more comprehensive and well-rounded discussion. 

Promote inclusivity and diversity. Foster respect and equality so everyone can express themselves equally.

Tips on how to balance a conversation and ensure everyone’s ideas are heard:

  • Before starting a conversation, clarify that everyone is welcome to share their thoughts.
  • Invite all participants to contribute to the conversation, especially those who may be more reserved or introverted.
  • When someone is speaking, actively listen to what they are saying. Avoid interrupting or talking over them, and ask follow-up questions to clarify their points if needed.

9. Use Proper Etiquette in Professional Settings

speaking in work setup
Professional setup and meeting

Proper etiquette is a must in professional settings. It can help you make a positive first impression, build relationships, and advance your career.

One element of public speaking etiquette is the use of formal language. Avoid slang and colloquialisms in favor of formal forms of speech. When addressing others, use appropriate titles such as Mr., Mrs. or Dr. Use last names and avoid nicknames and first names.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when navigating professional conversations:

  • Keep things short and simple. Make sure your comments are relevant to the topic.
  • Don’t interrupt other people when they’re speaking.
  • Don’t dominate the conversation. Ensure everyone has an opportunity to share their thoughts.

10. Apologize When Necessary

Owning up to mistakes and apologizing when necessary is crucial in maintaining healthy relationships in personal or professional settings. This helps build trust, respect, and empathy between people.

Tips for apologizing effectively and gracefully:

  • Make sure your apology is genuine and that you truly understand the impact of your actions.
  • Avoid making excuses or shifting blame onto others.
  • Show that you understand how your actions have affected the other person. Express empathy and understanding for their feelings.

11. Show Gratitude And Appreciation

When we show gratitude towards others, we acknowledge and value their efforts, strengthening bonds and building trust. It also makes the other person feel valued and appreciated, boosting their confidence and motivation.

Tips on how to show gratitude and appreciation in different situations:

In personal relationships:

  • Whether for a gift, a kind gesture, or simply being there for you, saying thank you is a simple yet effective way to express gratitude.
  • A handwritten note or letter can be a meaningful and personal way of expressing appreciation.

In the workplace

  • Whether in a team meeting or emailing the entire office, publicly acknowledging someone’s hard work and accomplishments can help them feel appreciated.
  • A quick email thanking someone for their hard work or assistance can be a simple yet effective way to show appreciation.

In the community:

  • Volunteering your time and resources for a cause you care about is a great way to show gratitude and appreciation for your community.
  • Donating to a local charity or organization is another way to show appreciation for your community and the people who make it a better place.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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