What is the #1 phobia among us? Public speaking of course! Ever have to deliver a speech or a presentation to a room full of strangers? Frightening isn’t it? Here are some tips on overcoming that fear and delivering a great speech.
Know Your Material
This seems like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised the number of times that a speaker is unprepared to deliver their presentation. Knowing your material and how it will be presented to the audience is vital. Not only do you need to know the material that you’re presenting, but you should be treating it like an iceberg. Only 5% of the material that you know is being presented, the other 95% of it is in your head. While you will probably not get beyond discussing the 5%, knowing the rest of the background will show the audience that you know your stuff.
Practice, Practice and More Practice
Like any skill, practice makes perfect and public speaking is no difference. You need to put yourself in the position you’ll be in (as best you can) when you’re delivering your speech or presentation. Will you be at the head of a table or a podium? Will you have a microphone or not? Will you need to hold the microphone or is it a headset? These are all things you should get used to and practice with when rehearsing your speech. Develop that muscle memory so that when you deliver your speech, it’s like doing a warmup at the gym.
Be Calm, Talk Slow
When we get anxiety, the first thing we typically do is rush through our words as we have them memorized. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and calm yourself. Think through your speaking points and hear yourself speak. If you are having trouble keeping up with what you’re saying, odds are your audience is as well. Speak slowly enough for people to comprehend what you’re saying (but not too slow as to put them to sleep).
The single biggest key to great speeches and presentations is confidence. Often when giving presentations we’re talking to people who are in very senior positions and that often comes with a level of intimidation. The one thing you always have to remember is that behind the titles, designations and big offices, they are people just like you.
Go in there knowing your material, be prepared to answer questions based on what you say, deliver your words in a controlled manner and project your confidence in the room. You’re presentation will be a success!