Need to Give a Speech?
Tips and Tricks for Public Speaking

by Judy Camp

Nervous about public speaking? Most of us are. But the ability and skills needed to communicate and give oral presentations with confidence can substantially help your career or increase your sales. Following some simple steps can help you plan and execute your public speaking in a successful manner.

Determine your audience. Find out as much as possible about the people you will be speaking to at the business meeting. Higher level managers will respond differently than those on the shop floor, for example. Tailor the flavor of your talk, as well as the content, to a your particular audience. Try to discern what they hope to gain by your speech. Imagine how they can use the information in their jobs, and pinpoint special tips.

Find out more about the audience. Ask your contact what others will be speaking about in order to make sure you don't overlap information. Ask about past presentations given by other speakers to the group, and what was successful.

Overcome your fear of public speaking, and learn the tips of the pros to organize and deliver your speech in a way that dazzles your audience.

Question others. If you have colleagues or friends in similar positions to those making up the audience, ask questions about their needs before completing your speech. You could gain valuable insights into the perspective of your audience.

Start with an outline. Just like composition writing in school, your speech needs to have a topic sentence, followed by several main points, each complete with supporting information. As you include your supporting information, look for ways to lead naturally into the next topic.

Use basic English. Keep your sentences fairly short (sentence fragments are sometimes all right to use), and your words fairly simple, unless the longer word is important to your topic. Try of avoid words that could be mistaken for another word. Reading your speech aloud to someone will usually make these apparent.

Try to involve your audience. Ask questions that make your audience feel more a part of your talk. Asking for a show of hands will often keep people listening and interested. For example, you may ask, "How many of you have been put on hold for over a minute when trying to place an order?" (Just make sure you are about to provide a solution to the question you posed.)

Know your subject matter and practice thoroughly. Practice until you feel comfortable with your speech, and make sure you have done enough research to be able to answer at least some of the questions the audience might throw at you. Time yourself, to make sure your presentation fits the allowable time.

Copy your speech. On the day of your presentation, keep an extra copy of your speech in another place in case one gets lost. Arrive early and get comfortable with the room you will be speaking in. Find the best placement for any visual aids you have. Walk around a little, until you get a feel for the place. Make sure you are familiar with any audio-visual equipment you plan to use, even previewing your slides or video to remove any bugs. Then take a moment or two to relax and be calm. Be confident that your audience wants to hear you, or they wouldn't be there.

See eye to eye. During your speech, make eye contact with members of your audience. If they seem uninterested, you need to work harder to get their attention. Make sure you communicate enthusiasm for your topic in your tone of voice, or you can hardly expect the audience to feel any. After the presentation, seek feedback from people you meet. Keep their comments in mind when preparing your next presentation.


Judy Camp is the author of the book, Find Time for What You Love, which contains dozens of ways to find extra time in each day, and to find ways to spend that time that will catapult you toward your ideal life!

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