3 Keys to Successful Public Speaking

If you have to speak in public and the thought of it makes you clam up, break out into a cold sweat, and feel the urge to hide under the bed, you’re not alone. Most people get the jitters when it comes to public speaking, especially if it’s not something you do on a regular basis. But like it or not, speaking in front of a group is something you will more than likely have to do at least once in your life. If you own a business, manage a business, or work at a senior level in most fields, you will need to be able to present your thoughts to an audience without freezing up. Even though it may be scary, sometimes we have to do things outside these of our comfort zone.

Try three tips for the next time you have to give a presentation, pitch a client, or give a speech. You’ve got this.

1. Know Your Material

This one sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked. Yes, memorizing what you’re going to say is very important, but you should know the subject inside and out, frontward and back if you are going to be talking about it in front of a large audience. People usually have questions, and getting stumped by a query that you should already have the answer to can be humiliating, no matter how well you know your speech. So make sure you brush up on the broader subject you’re planning to speak on. There’s no such thing as knowing too much, or being over-prepared.

2. Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect

Practice your speech EVERY DAY. This bears repeating. Practice, practice, practice. Recite at home in front of a mirror. In the car on the way to and from work. In front of friends and family. In the shower. And if possible, ideally you should practice it at the venue itself.

Getting a feel for the environment where you’ll be speaking can help calm frazzled nerves because when the big day comes, you’ll already know the space. Also, try practicing a few times with the TV or radio on. Rehearsing with distractions will help prepare you for what to do when the inevitable distractions pop up on your big day. Crying baby in the audience? A heckler? A loud cougher? You’ll let it slide off your back like a duck in water.

3. Understand Your Audience

Every situation is different, but if you know who your audience is going to be, it’s worth taking some time to research them, so that you can try to relate to them on a personal level. Incorporating small specific details into your speech that will resonate on an emotional level with your audience is smart, and it’s what all great public speakers do. Try it. A little goes a long way!

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