The Secrets to Public Speaking

Learn how to Speak in public with no Fear!

Here are our Tips from Professionals

Public speaking is something that a lot of people find intimidating. Even those who are quite good at putting words on paper, and conversing in one-on-one or small group situations find that when they have to stand in front of an audience who are there with the express purpose of listening to them speak, they lose their confidence and eloquence.

The good news is that most people are able to become good public speakers with a little practice. The secret to good public speaking is partly exposure, and partly preparation. The more often you speak in public, the easier it gets, and the better you prepare for each speech the more smoothly it will go.

Preparing to Speak

It is rare that someone is asked to speak without any notice - unless they are put on the spot at someone's birthday, or asked to fill in on a presentation for a colleague. In most cases if you are giving a talk you will have some notice. Therefore, you can think about what you want to say. Find out whether you will be able to use slides or notes, and find out how much time you will have.

Write out a short framework for your speech. If someone has asked you to talk about a topic, it's probably one that you know well. This means that your audience will want to hear from you. So, think about your audience. Who are they? How much do they know about your topic? How does the topic affect them? If you're talking to C-level executives you will need to present the business benefits of your topic. If you are talking to engineers you can get down to more practical details. A presentation for students may take an altogether different angle.

Don't worry about humor or props unless those things are a part of your natural style. Focus on making sure that the presentation is concise and clear, and that it doesn't get too bogged down on details, or rambles too much.

Where to Get Practice

Run through your presentation a few times in the mirror or in front of the computer. Time yourself, and see how it goes. When you're happy, ask if you can give a demo presentation to a colleague or family member. If they know the topic and their eyes glaze over, get back to the drawing board.

Before you start speaking at major conferences, you might want to try giving smaller talks. Your local toastmasters group is a good starting point. Some meetup groups do "Pecha Kucha" presentations too - these are very short presentations where you are told to prepare a talk using a small number of slides and devoting 30 seconds or so to each slide. This is perfect for helping you to put forward your points in a concise way and also for helping you to get over your anxiety about talking in public. Since you will have a lot of people giving a talk on the same day as you, with most of them also being beginners, you should feel less pressure.
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Five Basic Public Speaking Tips