2. Demonstration speeches
  3. 50 soft skill 'how to' speech ideas

'How to' speech ideas

- 50 soft skills topics for demonstration speeches

By: Susan Dugdale  | Last modified: 09-16-2023

These how to speech ideas focus on soft skills, also known as people skills, which are often learned the hard way. Because, sadly, despite being vital for good interpersonal relationships, they are seldom constructively talked about and are frequently modeled badly.

Yet, every one of us benefits when we use them competently. Wherever we are in the world, doors open, and lives are changed for the better.

If you're not frightened of doing something a little different have a look at these suggestions.

What's on this page:

Five groups of ten soft skill how to speech ideas:

  1. How to say 'no' politely, plus nine more
  2. How to handle a temper tantrum from an adult, a child or a colleague, plus nine more
  3. How and when to give a compliment, plus another nine
  4. How to be gracious in defeat and learn from it, plus another nine
  5. How to read and use body language effectively, plus another nine

How to work with these topics: help to prepare your speech with links to useful resources, e.g., a printable demonstration speech outline and more

Let's talk about soft skills

We know soft skills are a necessary part of making and sustaining healthy interpersonal relationships. Despite that, how we learn good and useful interpersonal skills is frequently completely overlooked.

What are soft skills?

Image - dandelion seed heads blowing across clear sky.

'Soft skills' is the name given to the complex bundle of behaviors that help us grow and maintain relationships. E.g. being courteous, accepting criticism well, learning to control our temper, knowing when and how to ask for help...
Check this Wikipedia definition for more. It gives an excellent overview and provides links for further information.

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Getting to grips with soft skills

They can be tricky to get a handle on because unlike hard skills (eg. cooking, learning to drive a car, mending a puncture in a bike tire, or skiing) there are no fool proof step-by-step instructions to follow in order to get them right.

That makes using them as a subject for a speech even more valuable.

Make your 'how to' speech a gift

Image: Cartoon figures - Happy family - father and son, mother and daughter. Text: Share, show and tell about soft skills. They're vital for healthy relationships.

If you can put together a sincere, researched show and tell speech demonstrating how to use any of the soft skills listed in the topics below you'll be offering something of true worth to your audience.

The reasoning behind saying that is straightforward. If we want to do the best we can for ourselves and each other, we need confidence and competency in all the soft skills we can get!

Our present way of learning soft skills can be unreliable

In an ideal world we would all get great soft skills unconsciously, naturally, without effort. We would simply absorb them from those around us and use them without question, in the same way that we breathe without stopping to think whether we need to or not.

However life isn't ideal.

We are human. Our primary role models are not always perfect. Consequently, what we absorb, (learn), through observation and experience is often deeply flawed.

Learning from experience

As we become more aware we begin to understand how our behavior plays a significant role in shaping our lives. If we are open to it, the impact of what we do will teach us what we have to learn.

For instance: when, and how to apologize sincerely, how to listen well, how to let go of anger safely and appropriately...

Having these skills makes a vast difference 

These 'how to topics' list personal skills that collectively make the difference between being hired or not hired, liked or not liked, noticed or ignored, leader or follower...

Using any one of them for your demonstration speech could quite literally change someone's life for the better.

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 10 soft skill 'how to' speech ideas

Image: drawing of brain- left logic, right creativity. Text: How to speech ideas - how to think creatively.

  1. How to motivate others
  2. How to say 'no' politely
  3. How to think creatively
  4. How to make a 'good' complaint - one that is taken seriously
  5. How to listen effectively
  6. How to apologize sincerely
  7. How to say thank you graciously
  8. How to acknowledge someone who has just been bereaved or suffered a major set back
  9. How to show appreciation or that you care
  10. How to work in a small group

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Ten more vital soft skills topics

Image: woman having a temper tantrum
Text: How to handle an adult's temper tantrum

  1. How to think before you speak
  2. How to handle a temper tantrum from
    an adult, a child, a colleague...
  3. How to respond to bullying toward yourself, or another
  4. How to handle rudeness - being ignored, spoken to disrespectfully ...
  5. How to think on your feet or spontaneously
  6. How to be patient
  7. How to ask for a raise
  8. How to judge timing for opening a sensitive or difficult conversation
  9. How to settle a dispute
  10. How to respond to those who gossip or whine

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Another 10 "how to" speech ideas

Image: drawing of 2 rows of multi-colored stylized people. Text: Personal skills speech topics - How to promote cooperation and togetherness.

  • How and when to give a compliment
  • How to tell someone something you know will upset them hugely
  • How to get your opinion valued and listened to

  • How to stop unwanted thoughts
  • How to let go of anger safely and appropriately
  • How to stay calm in difficult situations
  • How to genuinely feel pleased about someone else's good fortune
  • How to focus or concentrate well
  • How to promote cooperation and togetherness
  • How to work harmoniously with someone you don't fully respect or like

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 Yet another ten topic possibilities

Image: Neon sign on brick wall reading This is the sign you have been looking for. Text:Useful people skills speech topics - How to use humor well.

  1. How to get, practice and keep a new skill
  2. How to use humor well
  3. How to keep your home life from impacting on your work life
  4. How to be grateful
  5. How to set and achieve new goals
  6. How to organize your time
  7. How to accept criticism positively
  8. How to be gracious in defeat and learn from it
  9. How to acknowledge your shortcomings without debasing yourself
  10. How to put yourself in another's shoes

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And the remaining ten suggestions!

Image: two bananas made to look like dolphins. Each has a cherry in its mouth. Text: How to be up-beat and open to new ideas.

  1. How to read and use body language effectively
  2. How to problem solve effectively
  3. How to be 'up-beat' and open to new ideas
  4. How to encourage and support others to step outside the known
  5. How to welcome a new person into your work place
  6. How to break the ice with someone you don't know but want to
  7. How to talk to your manager, (boss), naturally and easily
  8. How to teach a new skill well
  9. How to disagree with someone's idea without offending or putting them down
  10. How to evaluate ideas and events

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Working these speech topics

Choosing one as the topic of your demonstration speech could give just the growth opportunity your audience would deeply appreciate.

Don't be afraid to experiment and adapt them to suit. Use role plays to model non-effective and effective interactions and try getting your audience involved with practice and feedback opportunities.

Image - cartoon couple in business clothes talking together. Text: Give your speech creatively. Show & tell, demonstrate using role play.

With a light touch and a dash of self-deprecating humor, the speech will be fun to give and enjoyable to receive.

For more about the importance of soft skills, particularly in the work place, please see this excellent wikijob.co.uk article: 10 important soft skills for 2021.

More demonstration speech info:

Get yourself a printable blank step by step demonstration speech outline. You'll find it on this page on preparing demonstration speeches which if you're never given   

Image: row of men's colorful ties
Text:Download a printable blank step by step demonstration speech outline

You'll find it on this page on preparing demonstration speeches which if you're never given a 'show and tell' type presentation before is very worthwhile reading. You'll learn how to structure and work with your topic to meet the audience's needs.

There's also four more pages of demonstration speech topic suggestions to explore, if you've not found something suitable.

  1. 290 demonstration speech topics focusing on hard skills. These are the more traditional or typical 'how to' topics. For instance: how to choose a pet, how to read the stars, how to prune a rose bush...
  2. 6 themed lists of 'how to' topics: business, entertainment, frugal living...
  3. 100+ short (10 minute) demonstration speech topics
  4. 188 funny how to speech topics. These are a mix of hard and soft skills. They'll be fun for both you and your audience. 
Illustration: Wall paper background: blah, blah, blah. Text: Demonstration speech sample outline. How to leave a good voice mail message. Plus video.

And if reading a completed demonstration speech sample outline would help, check this page: demonstration speech sample outline.

I've used the same speech outline template that you can download for your own use from the link above. The speech itself is, like the topics on this page, a soft skill: how to leave a good voice mail message.

I've also made a video (audio + slides) so that you can hear as well as see the flow of information from one point to the next.

I hope they're both useful to you.☺