There’s one step every person on the planet needs to take, in order to experience true public-speaking success. Can you guess what it is?
Foolproof your presentation with planning and preparation.
You can eliminate a huge proportion of fear and nervousness by being – and feeling – well-prepared and ready for your speech.
Foolproof Your Presentation
Just realize that nervousness is often actually just another name for excitement. It’s a rare person who doesn’t become keyed-up and wired before a speech – but that can depend on the venue too. If you’re giving a speech to six business peers you already have a positive relationship with, you’re going to be less likely than if you’re about to step up onto a stage and deliver a presentation to six thousand people you don’t know.
Fortunately, you can choose your public speaking engagements. You can keep them as comfortable or as large as you like.
But even if you’re planning to give a ten-minute presentation to those six peers, practice being well-prepared!
Ways to Prepare
1. Focus on “what happens next”
You don’t have to remember every single sentence in your presentation, word for word. Instead, you need to:
Instead, you need to:
- Know your topic really, really well
- Know the key points – “What happens next”
Even if you forget the exact order, if you have learned “what has to happen next” after each key point, you can pull yourself quickly back on track – and you’ll never need to be afraid of “freezing on stage” again.
Write down your key points in order – bullet form. Or use cue cards that you can discreetly flip over, out of sight, if you’re operating from a desktop or lectern.
2. Write a killer opening that will totally grab your audience
It’s like watching a TV show or listening to a story: If you can “grab” your audience with your presentation opening, you can take your time about reeling them in during the rest of your speech.
Killer openings usually do at least two of the following:
- Make people instantly identify with you and/or what you’re talking about
- Feel as if you’re speaking just to them
- Intrigue them
- Entertain them
- Make them laugh
3. Improve Your Problem Areas
Identify your problem areas. Do you have a speech impediment? Hire a vocal coach. (No, you don’t have to commit to a three-year program: Sometimes just one session with the right vocal coach can arm you with the tools you need.)
Are you the world’s dullest storyteller? Do you have problems improvising and thinking on your feet? Take a storytelling course – not only will you have great opportunities to practice being the center of attention in a safe environment, you’ll hear some great stories, learn great skills and make important new friends. It never hurts to add to your network.
4. Join Toastmasters
Millions of people can’t be wrong. Time after time, people sing the praises of this organization dedicated to perfecting public speaking – or rather, perfecting being comfortable with public speaking.
Toastmasters has chapters all over the world. It costs approximately $36.00 every six months and it is easy to find the nearest chapter or chapters in your hometown.
Famous for its “no-pressure” atmosphere, Toastmasters’ meetings operate in a workshop setting.
You don’t have to speak; but Toastmasters makes it easy to do so if you want to, and many cite the positive encouragement and support from other members (all in the same boat as you, remember) as the most uplifting feature.
Check out Toastmasters in your area – or at least visit their website and check out their tips and resources.
5. Practice your presentation – thoroughly
And practice, practice, practice giving your presentation – out loud, as if it was the real thing.
Practice on the dog. (Dogs make a wonderful audience. They give you their full attention.)
Practice on your sister or spouse.
Practice in the mirror (and don’t be surprised if that one is the hardest of all!)
You should feel so comfortable, you can give your presentation in your sleep – but don’t forget to make a list of those key points or create cue cards.
6. Learn what makes a good speech.
Great speeches always have a strong beginning, focus on the topic promised and end up full-circle, closing the “loop” where you began with a strong conclusion.
And if you are using your presentation to get people to do something – sign up for your list, purchase an affiliate offer you’re presenting, purchase a product you’ve created or join your new membership program – make a cue card prompting yourself to give your call to action at the end of your speech, telling your audience what you want them to do next – and how to do it.
Components of a strong, memorable speech include letting your audience know:
- Who you are
- Why you are giving this presentation (why you care about them)
- What makes you qualified to do so
Note this is not a free license to tell your life story or talk endlessly about yourself: Tailor your information on a “need to know” basis and tell them only what is relevant about yourself.
You also need to:
- Make a promise. Tell them early on what they can expect from you – then deliver it (and point out you’ve delivered).
- “Prove” your proof. Your speech body is the “evidence” you spoke truly in your introduction or opening anecdote.
- Give them what they are expecting – what they came here to find out
- Show them that you understand their problem, dilemma, need or dream
- Capture their emotions. An attendee with an emotional investment in what you are saying is the most valuable (and viable) participant of all.
7. Understand your audience.
Before you ever sit down to write a word of your speech, you should thoroughly know who you are going to be speaking to. You should know the answers to the following questions without having to stop and think.
- What do they expect from you? What do they think you are promising?
- Who did you set out to attract? Who will come to your presentation or want to hear your speech?
- What do they need? Why are they giving up their precious time to invest in your presentation or listen to your speech?
- Does your message align with that need? With their values and lifestyle? With what is most relevant in their lives?
There you have it, 7 ways to foolproof your presentation and be successful as a speaker.