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Public speaking can be a daunting task, especially for those who aren’t accustomed to being in the spotlight. For years, it has been among people’s biggest fears. Whether you’re presenting in front of colleagues, clients, family, or an audience of strangers, almost everyone is faced with public speaking at one time or another.

I’ve seen countless individuals transform into confident and engaging speakers and while I pride myself on being able to offer insight and support to my clients, I thought I would share some tips for anyone out there trying to improve their own skills, conquer their fears, and deliver an impactful presentation.

Be as Prepared as the Stakes Demand:

The first rule of thumb for any successful public speech is preparation. The amount of preparation required depends on the stakes involved, but never underestimate the importance of thorough groundwork. Research your topic, understand your audience, and rehearse your speech until you’re confident in your delivery. Confidence comes from preparation, and it will help you stay calm under pressure. If you need to practice, don’t be afraid to do it in front of a friend or loved one. If you can’t do speak in front of a friendly crowd, imagine the alternative.

Know How You Are Going To Finish:

Begin with the end in mind. Knowing how you want to conclude your speech provides you with a clear direction throughout your presentation. Your closing should leave a lasting impression and drive home the main message you want your audience to take away. Plan your conclusion carefully, so it aligns with your overall message and resonates with your audience. Without summarizing your key points, try to recall the important elements you mentioned along the way.

Don’t Try To Be Funny:

Humor can be a powerful tool in public speaking, especially to open, but it’s not for everyone. Attempting humor without the necessary comedic timing or understanding of your audience’s sensibilities can backfire. Instead, focus on being genuine and relatable. Authenticity goes a long way in connecting with your audience and making your message memorable.

Slides Should Add, Not Be Redundant:

Visual aids, like slides, can enhance your presentation when used effectively. However, they should complement your speech, not repeat it verbatim. Use visuals to emphasize key points, provide context, or illustrate complex concepts. Keep your slides clean, concise, and visually appealing to engage your audience without overwhelming them with information. If your audience is reading slides that simply repeat your message, this presentation could have just been an email!

You Get Better With Reps:

Public speaking is a skill that improves with practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts aren’t flawless. Embrace each speaking opportunity as a chance to grow and refine your skills. Seek feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors to identify areas for improvement. The more you practice, the more confident and polished you’ll become.

Refrain From Using Notes:

Relying on notes during your presentation can create a barrier between you and your audience. Memorize key points, and use them as a guide rather than reading from a script. Engage with your audience by maintaining eye contact and speaking naturally. Your connection with the audience is far more important than delivering a perfect, word-for-word speech.

When In Doubt, Keep It Short:

Attention spans are shorter than ever. Unless your topic absolutely requires a longer presentation, aim to keep it concise and to the point. Focus on delivering valuable content and avoiding unnecessary fluff. A shorter, impactful speech is more likely to hold your audience’s attention and leave a lasting impression.

Public speaking is a valuable skill that can open doors to new opportunities and enhance your professional presence. Remember, even experienced speakers were once non-public speakers, and they honed their skills over time. By following these tips – preparing thoroughly, planning your conclusion, staying authentic, using visuals wisely, practicing regularly, minimizing notes, and keeping it concise – you can become a confident and effective communicator. Embrace the challenge, and let your voice be heard with confidence and clarity.