If you have long dreaded public speaking, join the club. Actually, public speaking ranks right up there as a fear that many people share. Fortunately, what follows is a compilation of tips that can help just about anyone rid themselves of this paralyzing fear.
Time your speech. If it is longer than you were expecting, take the opportunity to trim it down. If your speech is too short, research and find more information to fill in the time. Also, don’t rush through your speech when it comes time to give it.
When preparing to speak in public, make sure to memorize your words well in advance. Once you are able to give your speech without looking at your notes, you can start to perfect your delivery. You will be more comfortable on stage when you have memorized your speech.
You should know the speech you are giving. It is useful to know all the facts, figures and a few jokes or stories relating to your topic, whether your speech is memorized or not. Depending on the type of audience and how receptive they are, you can weave in stories as you go along. In addition, you can rely on them during the question and answer period or during follow-up conversations.
When you prepare your speech, make sure you have a good understanding of the topic before you begin. Research your topic completely. Then, write down the key points you want to touch on during your speech. You will be better prepared when you have questions to answer.
Know the audience that you are speaking to. Try to find out the names of individuals who will be listening. Greet your audience when they walk through the door. The crowd will feel more friendly if you have a level of familiarity with at least some of the people.
Focus on the truth when speaking in public. Outline your story before your speaking engagement. It is important that you lead into the story with an introduction and that you end with a conclusion. If you relate the story to something personal or some other event that truly happened, your story will be more natural.
Keep moving if you suddenly realize you skipped something in your outline. If you go back in time to try to cover something that isn’t fully necessary, you could find yourself becoming confused and lost in the speech entirely. In general, the audience is not going to know that you missed a small portion of your prepared speech.
Practicing is the best way to ensure that you know what you are going to say. Watch and listen to yourself speaking to see what you can do to make your speech better. Also consider gathering a group of family or friends to watch your speech. They can critique you and give you important feedback.
Before giving a speech, connect with the audience. Smile at them as they enter the room, and if you are able to, even shake some of their hands. The audience is sure to show more interest when you have a good attitude.
Get on your feet and practice any speech on a daily basis. This can boost your confidence since you’ll know the ins and outs of your material. However, don’t become so overconfident that you go onstage without notes. This will help if you stumble over any part of your speech or forget an important point.
Have a memorable conclusion in order to help your audience remember your presentation. While the other portions of your message are important, people are most likely to recall the ending. Make sure that the speech flows well to the end, and don’t make the end boring.
If your audience will be a large one, make sure your voice is clear and strong. Take a bottle of water with you to the podium. Don’t drink soda pop or milk products the day you speak. Such drinks thicken the saliva and can cause excessive mucous. Drink a little tea to help relax those vocal cords.
Sometimes it’s better to let people ask questions during your speech instead of at the end. They may not be able to remember what they need to ask. Give your audience the time they need for questions, and consider offering opportunities for them throughout your speech.
Have you been in a class and dread the public speaking part? Have you kept all your great ideas to yourself because of your nervousness? Now you can speak in public without any fear any longer.
Onaolapo Adeyemi is a travel and technology writer. If he’s not on tour, you’ll find him in New York with his wife, and pet parrot hanging out at Starbucks.