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5 Ways to Nail Your Next Speech

You’ve been doing public speaking for a few years now. You feel confident about your skills. But you still don’t see yourself in that category of a great public speaker. Take some tips from the professionals, and you may find that you’re not too far from your goal.

Public speakerKnow Your Material

This is a textbook tip, but still critical. You really need to know your material, inside and out. Because you don’t know what may happen during your speech that will completely throw you off. A breeze may come up during an outdoor event, and blow all of your notes off of the podium. A very influential figure in the audience may raise their hand and ask a, “What if?” question. There are many things that can happen to disrupt your flow.

The CEO of Ernst & Young, Mark Weinberger, had to address Congress frequently as the assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury for Tax Policy. He was faced with an audience known for interruptions, distracting statements and speculative questions. Mr. Weinberger had to know his material perfectly, for this is not an audience that accepts the response, “Let me get back to you on that.”

If you have memorized a long script, break it up into sections, rather than viewing it as one long stream of words. Thinking of the material as sections means if you are distracted, you can come back to the last section you were in and do a little catch up. People won’t mind if you take a moment to find your place.

Experience What the Audience Experiences

You may have done this early on as you were just learning, but you should periodically record your presentation and watch yourself. You may have picked up some habits that could be distracting to the audience. Are you speaking loudly and clearly enough? If you hold a microphone, do you hold it in the right position? Do you spend too much time behind the podium or walking back and forth on the stage?

Watch some TED talk presenters. Observe how they handle themselves on stage, with and without microphones, and with props such as charts or slides. Watch some with the sound off, so you can focus on body language and how they move in front of the audience.

Get Plenty of Rest and Fluids

The following will sound so intuitive, but they are so often violated. Drink plenty of water before you go on stage. As a backup, take a bottle or glass of water with you. A dry mouth can be very distracting to you and annoying to the audience while you hunt for a glass of water.

Get plenty of rest the night before the speech. It will show during your presentation. You will either appear bright and alert, or dull and listless. Your energy level affects how the audience receives your speech.

Go on Stage Relaxed

Your audience really does want you to have a good time on stage and share a good presentation. They all want you to succeed. If you have any anxiety, tell yourself there’s no need because the audience rarely notices. Don’t apologize for being nervous or for anything that should happen on the stage. Your audience is way more forgiving than you think.

Make It End Well

Michael Hyatt, a professional leadership speaker, writes that it’s important to close your speech properly. Don’t let your speech just trail off. End your speech with a powerful closing statement that they will remember.

What tips do you have for people to nail their next speeches? Share them in the comments.

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