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Public Speaking 101

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Many of us aren’t born natural speakers, so if you fall into this category here are a few tips to point you down the right path:

1.) Collect Your Thoughts. Before you write your speech figure out exactly what you want to say and which key points you want to emphasize. I recommend making an outline. Then write your script from there. These steps eliminate unnecessary information as well as boring presentations.

2.) Practice Makes Perfect! This old saying is so true. You never want to come off as rehearsed but more or less confident in your material. Plus this enables the speaker to edit on the fly if necessary due to time constraints.

3.) Don’t Speak! The day of your speech, do not talk as you walk out on stage. Proceed quietly, take a deep breath, get your head on straight and then begin. These steps ensure confidence in the speaker.

4.) Be Real. Regardless of what your speech is about, don’t come off fake or as if you’re a traveling salesman. Relate to your audience. Find out ahead of time what the demographics are of the group you’ll be speaking with and use those facts to win over your peers. If your audience is a group of teenagers, connect with pop culture. Or if you are addressing a bunch of bankers, figures might be a better route.

5.) Don’t Alienate Your Audience! It is great to maintain eye contact with your peers but don’t bore holes into anyone. Consistently shift your eye contact around the room so that all onlookers feel engaged but not intruded upon.

6.) Keep It Slow! Normally nervousness causes individuals to speed up their speech. Remember to slow down as you engage your peers, especially in the beginning as well as once you get comfortable.

7.) Be the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread. I had a college professor tell me once to harvest nervousness and use it to produce a fabulous performance. If public speaking absolutely scares you, turn that fear into a well delivered presentation. Pin-point which part of speaking publicly frightens you and disguise it by directing the audience elsewhere. A suggestion would be using a hands on activity or video.

8.) Leave the Audience Wanting More. Be respectful of people’s time and the window you’ve been asked to fill. Never go excessively over or under. Time your speech ahead of time so this never happens.

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