Five Basic Public Speaking Tips To Help Master Your Next Presentation

Public speaking is one of the most feared things for people to do, some even fear it more than death!?! Here are five basic public speaking tips to help you take some of the overwhelm out of your next speech and presentation.

Since 1924 Toastmasters International has helped more than 4 million people learn more about public speaking and gain the confidence to communicate in all circumstances and one of the most demanding situations you’ll ever face is speaking to an audience.

Here are five basic public speaking tips to help you prepare so that you feel empowered to impress others. If you pay attention to these five crucial tips when you plan and deliver your next speech, you have an easier time, and your audience will get more out of the experience.

1. KNOW YOUR SUBJECT

If you want to overcome nervousness, the first guideline is simply to know what you’re talking about; you’ll have an easier time giving a speech on a subject if you know the subject well.

Want to speak about your favorite musician?

Read any information on the person that you can find online or at your library. When you become an authority on your topic, the audience will want to learn what they can from you. And, you won’t have to struggle to keep your messages straight, if you know the message, as well.

Once you’ve mastered your topic, the next step is to master your presentation. Make sure you rehearse the entire speech, so that you will be comfortable presenting it, and practice any difficult parts repeatedly until they flow smoothly.

Whether or not you memorize each word, you should make sure you know the order of your messages. That’s why new Toastmasters members begin with the icebreaker speech. It’s a chance to talk about the subject you know best, yourself. Then all you have to focus on is practicing how well you tell your story.

2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Understand the importance of knowing who will be listening to you, and where you will be when you give your presentation. Both the audience and location can create limitations that are important to be aware of and to understand.

For example, if you are a researcher, you might speak about the math behind your work. Now if you’re addressing a group of college professors, you could use highly technical language to discuss a sophisticated research project, would you do that if you were describing your work to a group of school children? For young kids, wouldn’t it be better to talk about how people learn things through research?

Knowing your audience means understanding and respecting their particular characteristics. Before you prepare your speech, their geography, politics, culture, and age, and other traits will define them as a group and will guide you in tailoring your presentation, to fit their needs.

Be sure to check out your location before you present. Will there be enough space on stage for everything you need? If you’re planning to deliver a PowerPoint presentation, are you sure they’ll have a screen? Or, have you been placed in an outdoor amphitheater with too much sun for anyone to see the screen? What about audience size? Will a sound system be available if you need it?

All these questions are important to answer before you take the stage.

3. NEVER APOLOGIZE

This is an eye-opener, for you, not your audience.

You’d be surprised how much an audience misses during a presentation. If you make a minor mistake, such as skipping a portion of your speech or forgetting a few words, don’t worry. Your audience most likely doesn’t have a clue, just keep going, and you’ll find your way back on track with your next point. If you apologize, you call attention to the wrong part of your presentation, which takes away the important point you want to make.

An advanced speaker knows how to guide the audience’s attention toward the important parts and away from the small stuff. Whether you make a mistake or not, just remember that people want you to do a good job and because of that, they’re rooting for you.

It helps to remember this with the next tip.

4. IMAGINE YOURSELF GIVING A GREAT SPEECH

A great way to find success is to visualize it. Give yourself time for this important form of preparation. See yourself making important, valid points with appropriate gestures and body language that emotionally connect you with your audience. Once you see yourself using what works, you’ll feel more relaxed and confident, and don’t forget to imagine pausing while your audience applauds wildly.

5. FOCUS ON YOUR MESSAGE, NOT ON YOURSELF

Some beginning speakers let their nervousness win because they make the mistake of focusing entirely on themselves. When something goes wrong, for example, your reaction can cause your voice to shake, then all you hear is a shaky voice. That becomes the focus of your thoughts, but remember you’re giving a talk for an important reason. Keep that reason in mind and focus on what’s important in your message.

Find the passion for entertaining, educating, inspiring, or motivating your audience, and you’ll find a purpose and your voice.

TAKEAWAYS:

  1. Know your subject
  2. Know your audience
  3. Never apologize
  4. Imagine yourself giving a great speech
  5. Focus on your message, not on yourself

*this post is a transcription of the video above made by Toastmasters International

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