The fear of public speaking can be a dreadful beast – unless you realize it only exists if you believe in it.
Instead, I suggest you to believe in yourself and in good preparation. The latter can be achieved with the following 5 tips.
Tip #1: What’s Your Message?
No matter what the topic is, your speech should have some purpose. Do you want your audience to join a club or donate for a charity cause? Would you like them to change behavior or accept some new unconventional idea? Great!
You can attend dozens of special workshops, spend long hours on preparation, but if the speech is pointless, you will subconsciously feel that something is wrong, and no wonder you’ll be nervous. On the contrary, if you have a strong, exciting purpose and you are passionate about it – consider the job half done.
Tip #2: Get the Content Ready
The most obvious thing about delivering a speech is the fact that you have to speak. Sounds like a platitude, I know. But seriously, let’s consider the necessary conditions you need to fulfill if you want to speak non stop for 10 minutes (or whatever is your time limit).
- Get Enough Ideas. Take your time and read on your topic, study different sources, listen to podcasts, watch speeches by others, think everything over, make your conclusions, and write down the meatiest ideas.
- Create Structure. What main ideas will you pick for your speech? In what order are you going to share them? What would be the introduction and the conclusion? Ask yourself these questions and jot down the structure of your speech in any form – bullet points, numbered list, or a mind map.
- Insert the ‘Spices’. To make your speech more emotional and memorable, it is highly advisable to illustrate your ideas with interesting anecdotes that will stir your listeners’ imagination and remain in their memory. If the topic allows, you can also come up with one or two jokes to make your audience smile. Both the illustrations and the jokes should be added to the structure you’ve made – you should know when exactly to tell them
- Assist Your Memory. Prepare numbered cards reflecting the key points of the speech structure. You will use them extensively during the practice phase; you can also bring them to the actual speech – just to know you’re safe.
Tip #3: Practice
The public presentation should not be the first time you give the speech out loud. You should learn to be comfortable with the delivery. To do so, many people practice before friends or family. If possible, it’s even better to make a video of your speech, watch it attentively, think of the possible improvements, then make another video, and so on. Just 2 or 3 iterations of this simple practice can make a world of difference both for your speech and for you as a speaker.
Tip #4: Sharpen Your Weapon
Many beginner speakers don’t pay attention to the obvious fact: our body is the main tool we use for delivering a speech. To use it effectively, we have to make sure it’s in good condition to use it.
Here are some helpful ides:
- Exercise before the Speech. It’s best to begin your day with a decent workout. However, even a short stroll outdoors or a funny dance in the corridor can do miracles for your speech!
- Drink Enough Water. Dry mouth is not a metaphor – it’s an actual condition that can affect you from speaking. Make sure you drink plenty of water during the day – and have some water with you during the speech.
- When Is the Best Time to Eat? Though you shouldn’t be hungry, it’s not advisable to have a meal right before the speech. If possible, eat an hour or two before the speech.
- Get Enough Sleep. Keep in mind that the night before your presentation is not the best time for preparations – it’s meant for sleeping!
Tip #5: Light up Your Passion
A friend of mine hated public speaking – she was afraid she couldn’t do it well. I knew she was fond of cooking, so I suggested an analogy. “Before delivering a speech, imagine you are going to cook a delicious dish for someone you love. Your words will be the main ingredients, your emotions will be the spices, and your voice will be the fire.” She laughed, but followed the advice – and it helped a lot!
Think of something you like to do – something you are highly advanced at. Imagine yourself doing that, and listen to your heart. What do you feel? Remember this feeling and come back to it before giving a speech.