5 professional tips to help you deliver an engaging and effective speech
Does thinking about getting up in front of a room to speak give you sweaty palms? Speaking to a crowd can be a nerve-wracking task, but there are ways to overcome your nerves to deliver a powerful presentation. Here are some tips.
1. Prepare your speech.
The first step to delivering a successful presentation is to thoroughly prepare. Understand the forum, audience and the expectation of the audience, as well as the expectation of stakeholders (for instance your boss or the person who asked you to speak). Once you understand the goals, outline your approach. Figure out what key points you want to make and how you’ll support those key points with context and visuals.
Pro tip: Don’t turn your written speech outline into a PowerPoint presentation. If you’re thinking slides, think about visuals you can add, not words you can add. If you’re going to do all of this work to prepare a speech, you want the audience listening to you, not reading slides, right?
- Practice your presentation.
Once you have your speech outlined, practice, practice, practice. Start out by reading the speech out loud to yourself a few times. Make edits to words and phrases with each iteration. If something trips you up now, it will trip you up later! After you feel comfortable with the written content, record yourself saying it, and you’ll gain insight that will help you tailor your message and delivery further.
Pro tip: Don’t focus on memorizing every word. Focus on the key points you want to make. While some people like the safety net of a script, scripted presentations are usually boring presentations.
- Take care of yourself.
Preparing well will alleviate some stress of having to speak in front of an audience, but some level of stress is inevitable. Take care of last minute nerves by getting some exercise to get the blood flowing. Make sure you’re hydrated and rested.
Pro tip: Make sure you have some water on hand for your presentation.
- Forget the audience.
While you want to appear that you’re looking around the room, locking eyes during a presentation can throw you off your game. If you start to worry about the body language of your audience, you’ll stop concentrating on the delivery of your speech.
Pro tip: Find locations in the back of the room to focus on instead. The audience will never know!
As with everything, practice makes perfect. Public speaking may be uncomfortable, but if you do it frequently, it will become easier each time. Challenge yourself to take on more speaking roles at work and within professional organizations.
Pro tip: When preparing a speech or presentation, consult with a professional early on. This will give ample time for communications professionals to ensure your message is on point, before getting into the nitty-gritty of delivery.
Need help creating a powerful presentation? Axia Public Relations provides professional training for delivering effective and engaging presentations. They can also help you identify the best speaking opportunities to boost your company’s visibility. Get in touch with Axia today to learn more about how public speaking can dramatically increase your sales and credibility.
Julie Miller is a marketing and communications professional, working for more than seven years in the industry. She primarily works in the technology and education sectors and specializes in digital marketing and communications. Julie has worked with Axia since November 2015. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.
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