Impress Your Audience While Public Speaking

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I have a fear of speaking in front of a group of people. Just the thought of public speaking makes me nervous. A professor once told me that the three top fears that people have are the fear of public speaking, the fear of dying, and the fear of falling. To help others like myself, I have compiled a list of helpful things to consider before your next speaking engagement.

Know Your Audience

When you are asked to speak, find out as much information as you can about your audience. What is the age, gender, education level, cultural, ethnic background, or attitudes of your audience? Do your listeners belong to a formal organization such as a church, chamber of commerce, or gardening club?

You should plan your speech accordingly based upon your audience. For example, if you were speaking to a group of high school students your language and presentation would be different than if you are speaking to a group of doctors or lawyers. You will want to use ancedotes that relate to your audience.

Research Your Topic

Once you have chosen a topic, research that topic. Know your subject and be prepared to answer audience questions. Nobody wants to listen to a person who rambles on about a topic in which they know nothing about. Some good research tools are newspapers, magazines, yearbooks and encyclopedias, documents and reports, books, biographies, specialized databases, CD-ROM searches, personal interviews, and the internet. One caution when using the internet is to be sure you retrieve your information from a trusted source. Remember anybody can put information out on the web.

Write a Speech Outline

Create an outline for your speech. This is the blueprint for your speech and will help keep you on track.

From the website "Six Minutes: Speaking and Presentation Skills," a basic speech outline template template for structural elements is:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

An example template for a Business Proposal to Investors:

  1. Be direct: “Invest $___ for %___ of the shares”
  2. Story to illustrate the need for the product XYZ
  3. Story to describe the vision of how product XYZ improves lives
  4. Demo of product XYZ
    1. Benefit #1 (focus on benefits, not features)
    2. Benefit #2
    3. Benefit #3
  5. Invest now and make product XYZ possible
  6. Story illustrating strength of the team
  7. Market analysis
  8. Financial projections
  9. Repeat call-to-action: “Invest $___ for %___ of the shares”

See more speech outline examples: http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/speech-preparation-3-outline-examples/.

Do not skip the step of writing an outline especially if public speaking makes you nervous. Your audience will know that you are not prepared and that you are simply trying to "wing it."

Practice Your Speech

Use your outline and practice giving your speech to a friend or family member. Remember to make eye contact. Practice in front of a mirror and watch your facial expressions. Record or video yourself giving the speech and listen for the pace of your speech. You do not want to talk too fast nor do you want to mumble. The more you practice, especially in front of family and friends, the more comfortable you will become at public speaking.

Give Your Speech

When giving your speech there are several very effective ways to gain your audience’s attention. You can explain ideas or terms, compare and contrast, tell a joke, give examples, invite participation by asking questions, use statistics, or give a testimony to get your point across.

Keep your speech interesting. Organize your speech logically. Your audience will be more interested and remember more of what you have to say if your speech is presented in a clear and concise manner.

Interact with your audience. Don’t be afraid to tell a joke, open with an interesting story, ask your listeners questions, or use visual aids to make your presentation more appealing. Have fun with your audience. For additional information go to www.toastmasters.org.



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