Public Speaking and Presentation Skills: What Are Their Differences?

Last updated on March 25th, 2023

Normally, the terms public speaking and presentation skills are considered the same but in practice, they are very different from each other. One may use both of these skills for varying purposes, and hence, their goals, their deliverance methods, and their prospective audiences make them quite distinct from each other. 

To better understand when or how to master public speaking and presentation skills, you must clearly understand their similarities and differences. This article will share very actionable and useful aspects regarding public speaking and presentation skills with you so that you can easily distinguish between these crucial skill sets in the future.

What is Public Speaking?

In general terms, public speaking can be regarded as speaking in front of a live audience or public for various purposes. The public speaker speaks in front of his listeners and conveys his message orally. 

Whether the speaker is familiar with his listeners or not, he tries to share his ideas and thoughts about a specific topic or aspect. While on the other hand, presentation skills can be summarized differently.

What are Presentation Skills?

Presentation skills can be regarded as one’s ability to deliver educational, informative, appealing, instructive, enlightening, or engaging presentations in front of a specific audience. Presentation skills are important in effectively delivering a message in the form of a presentation in front of a specific group of people or audience. 

The message is not only delivered through oral means here but also through audio-visual sources. The speaker normally uses slides as a form of visual assistance to communicate his ideas more efficiently.

Is There a Similarity Between Public Speaking and Presentation?

Well, someone may wonder whether any similarities exist between public speaking and presentation skills or not. Despite being used for various purposes, presentation and public speaking skills have some non-negligible similarities.

1. Objective (Central Theme)

Whether you are a presenter or public speaker, you always need a central idea or objective around which your whole presentation or speech would revolve. There Is no point in delivering a public speech or presentation if there is no purpose behind it. You may want to inform, persuade or motivate your listeners, or even want to sell your product or service to your audience. No matter what goal you want to achieve, there is always a need for a central theme around which you can craft and design your whole speech or presentation.

2. Audience (Listeners)

You may have a speech or presentation prepared to be delivered, but without an audience, they may prove to be purposeless. Your audience gives meaning to your words and helps you achieve your specific goals or objectives. 

In verbal communication skills, knowing your listeners’ interests, desires, and requirements is necessary. Does your idea resonate with the wants of your audience? Are you able to grab their interest? Whatever you are trying to say, make sure that your audience has been well-considered while preparing your presentation or public speech; otherwise, you may not be able to hit your desired targets.

3. Attention Grabbing

Presentation and public speaking activities are not regarded as successful events if they have not affected, convinced, or persuaded their listeners in some sort. Therefore, the speaker, in both of these skill sets, tries to grab the attention of his audience through any possible means. He may use a funny remark, a catchy phrase, a story, or even proceed with a group activity during his speech or presentation to manage and engage his audience.

A powerful public speech or presentation remains a memorable experience in the listeners’ minds for a considerably longer period. In a public speaking PowerPoint presentation, it is also recommended by experts to speakers to find a common ground with their listeners and emphasize the key phrases and words repeatedly.

Key Differences between Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

Modern industry experts may argue that the gap between public speaking and presentation skills has been reduced by the latest means of communication and technology. Still, in practice, there remain some very prominent differences between them. Here are some of the most notable public speaking and presentation-related differences.

1. Both have different ways formats of deliverance

If you are a public speaker, you may speak in front of an audience either face to face or virtually through remote communication tools. The speaker does not necessarily use any other communication method except the oral one. The message is mostly conveyed between a listener and a speaker through oral or verbal means.

Contrarily, the presenter during a presentation uses visual aid as well along with oral communication. He can deliver his presentation either in a slideshow or audio-visual format. Premade PowerPoint templates about communication can prove to be helpful resources for you to understand how a presenter wins the stage through his persuasive presentation deliverance method.

2. Both require different amounts of time for their preparation

In order to understand another distinguishing feature of both public speeches and presentations, you may notice the different amounts of time required to prepare them. Public speeches are not always prepared beforehand. Extempore is considered a public speech that is delivered without any prior preparation. There may arise a sudden need to speak in front of an audience for any specific event like party speeches, office speeches, etc.

While on the other hand, presentations are well-prepared, arranged, and organized before their deliverance in front of any audience. The presenter offers his idea, concept, or deal in front of his specific listeners for a specific purpose that, most of the time, listeners are already aware of. 

The topic and time needed to deliver a presentation are usually decided as well. Have a look at this premade Soft Skills PowerPoint Template to know how you can manage the time of the deliverance of your presentations. 

Another difference between business presentation and public speaking skills is the level of creativity in both formats. Public speakers tend to be more creative as topics are not pre-arranged most of the time. While on the other hand, presentations are usually delivered in formal environments where everything is required to follow a specific flow or method to achieve the desired goal. 

3. Both have different audience sizes

Presentation and public speaking skills are diversified and vibrant in a number of ways. One of the major differences between them is their respective audience size. Public speeches are delivered in front of small groups to hundreds or even thousands of listeners sitting in front of you or worldwide. For example, a motivational speaker can make a public speech in front of thousands of listeners.

While in the case of presentations, the audience size is usually small and pre-decided. A student usually delivers his informative presentation in front of his classmates or teachers, etc. A marketer or salesman only tries to persuade his potential customer through his pitch deck. Understanding these differences is important if you want to improve your leadership skills as well.


Public speaking and presentation skills are very important for aspiring professionals, successful business people, leaders, and influencers. Although the terms are used interchangeably often, there are significant differences between them. They have many similarities considering aspects like the objective, audience, and catching the audience’s attention.

However, the distinguishing features of varying ways of their deliverance, different audience sizes, and specific purposes can make them quite different topics of discussion. Whether you are a student, employee, business owner, or any other professional, you need to have a clear understanding of these skill sets and the differences between them. It will be easier for you to learn, polish, and further enhance these skills in the future if you do so.

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