Great Tips for Public Speaking

Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely abhor speaking to a group.   One on one, I’m totally fine, but when the room gets quiet and everyone is focused just one me?  Panic!!

I found these basic public speaking tips and have been using them.   Guess what?  They work!

To overcome nervousness, know your subject and your speech.   If you’re going to be speaking about a particular subject, you need to know what you’re taking about and be prepared for questions.   Read all the information you find on the subject and become an authority.   There’s nothing worse than listening to someone speak about a subject that you know more about than the speaker. MicrophoneMake sure your speech has a message/point.  If you don’t know the point, your audience won’t either.

Master your presentation by practice, practice, practice.   Rehearse the difficult parts until you get your whole speech down pat, and you can recite by rote.  Most important, make sure you know the order of the messages.  If you mess up and skip a point, you will be able to get back on track quickly.

Know your audience and the venue.   If you’re speaking about a technical subject, will your audience know your technical jargon?   If you use industry phrases and terms that no one in the room has a clue about, you’ve lost them.   Will there be a culture, age, industry similarity in your audience?  If so, know what would be appealing to those people in your speech.   If you’re speaking to a group of senior citizens, including a reference to Justin Bieber might not be appropriate.  Similarly, if you’re speaking to a group of people where English is their second language, you might want make sure to speak slower and limit the use of slang.

Where will the speech take place?  Do you need to have a contingency plan for rain?   Do you need to have a screen for a PowerPoint presentation?  If it’s a large area, will you need a microphone?   If you’re a soft speaker or everyone’s going to be clinking dinnerware during your speech, you might need a microphone even for smaller spaces.  Being properly prepare will reduce distractions for you and your audience.

Never apologize.    If you make a minor mistake, chances are that your audience won’t even know.   Just find your way back on track and make your next point.   The apology will take more away from your speech.   Remember people generally want you to do well.

Focus on your message, not on yourself.  This is the most important thing to remember.  You’re giving this speech for a reason – to relay important information that your audience wants to hear.   They did not come for you in particular (unless you are already a star), they came for the message.   If you keep this in your forethought, then it will help you relax and stay focused on the message, not on the delivery.

Lora Zibman | Southeastern


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