Practice. Practice. Practice. The old saying applies, practice makes perfect. Aside from that, make sure you're prepared. Know your material, practice the speech in front of family and friends or a mirror before you actually present. Don't write out a speech and memorize it, you're bound to forget a word when you're up there and you'll freeze and it will throw off the whole presentation. Instead, go with bullet points of a note card or something similar. Make it to where you can look down at it, see the sentence and it will jog your memory of what cos next.
During the actual speech, make eye contact with people throughout the room. Don't look down and don't lock in on one person. Talk to the whole room, not just one person. Be confident in your abilities, you'll be amazed at how your confidence will translate to others feeling you had a commanding speech that was well done. Lastly, remember that it's your speech and your presentation - if you mess up, no one else knows that you did except you. If you can successfully play it off then nobody will know it was a mistake.
I hope this helps - I used to be a horrible public speaker ( I dreaded class projects, speeches etc ) but am told that now I'm a fantastic speaker and I use the above tips on each and every one of my presentations.
1. Before you present, stand in a superhero pose! Fill yourself with confidence. It sounds silly but it works! (Your idea of a superhero is more important than mine! Try hands on hips with legs a little bit wider than shoulders that also helps you take good deep breaths and those are good too!)
2. Remember a little stress can be ok. Being stressed the right way can keep you sharp! So don't be afraid of the stress. Use it.
3. Don't let yourself get too stressed. Care a lot. It's a big opportunity! But it's never going to be your only opportunity.
4. Take risks, have an opinion, be yourself and share your personality. Be bold. Make yourself famous for being yourself. Everyone else is taken anyway and being mediocre by trying to sound like someone else or worse everyone else is boring. I know this sounds like it's only for the courageous or the extraverts but there are plenty of quiet people and introverts who have been enormously successful by allowing themselves to be themselves.
5. Remember the audience wants to connect with you. It may seem like they are "on the other side" or judging but they are typically very generous, will feed off of your energy, want you to succeed, and are ready to go along with you.
6. Take them somewhere interesting and have fun with them!
Good luck! You'll be great!
Erin K Najar
Erin K’s Answer
It is important to be passionate about that of which you are speaking, but that is not always up to us. Sometimes we are charged with disseminating information to large groups, and ensuring that they leave the presentation having learned something. In this case, I open informative speeches with a brief survey, asking the audience to raise their hands if they are already experts in the topic at hand, moderately familiar, or entirely unfamiliar. The goal is actually to identify those in the room who may actually know more than I and to engage them individually ("put them on the spot," if you will) when it came to areas of content about which I was less confident.
I learned to thrive as a public speaker, loving public speaking is as critical as loving what it is about which you are speaking. It is vital to make eye contact with your audience, and to pay attention to non-verbal cues, like yawing, texting, looking at a watch or clock, to know that you are losing the attention of your audience and may need to redirect your approach. I also NEVER use a podium. As a matter of fact, whenever possible, I am on the floor, walking up and down aisles, speaking TO my audience, not at them, and constantly addressing attendees at random, to see if they are feeling lost or had any questions, or comments.
Finally, if there is one thing a public speaker can do to discredit themselves faster than anything else, is to answer a question with a false, or even mildly uncertain answer. DO NOT LIE. Simply acknowledge the validity of the question, address the audience to see if anyone in the room may know first, and then let the attendee who posed the question know that it was intriguing enough of a question that you would personally seek out the answer and respond asap following the presentation. You can ask the audience members to complete comment cards as well, which will allow them to comment on the presentation and ask any follow-up questions with a space for their contact information. These should be made to look professional, yet succinct, with your name, credentials, and the presentation title at the top, and your contact information at the bottom. They should also be distributed to each attendee prior to the presentation, by either greeting your audience as they enter and handing them out then, or leaving them where the audience will be seated.
While you practice, and during the the presentation itself, don't forget to breath and speak at a normal pace. Nerves may make you naturally tense up, or feel the urge to rush through what you are saying to get to the end of the speech quickly. Breathing in regular intervals can help you moderate your pace (don't be afraid of small pauses) and avoid a shaky or nervous-sounding voice.
Best of luck!
Great question. As a 20+ year professional I still get butterflies before each presentation I give. Joel is right Practice makes perfect, but here a few other ideas:
1. Google Toastmasters - it's a training program designed to help people become better presenters.
2. Practice in front of a mirror. Imagine you are talking to a group but get a sense for how your body language looks
3. Practice in a random setting with people who have no idea what you are doing...like taking a walk in a park or being in a supermarket. I guarantee no one will even have a clue you a presenting to them!
4. Lastly - believe in what you are presenting. If you do others will too!!
Ryan recommends the following next steps:
Make eye contact with your audience. It will help to create a bond between you and your audience. When you look someone in the eye, they are more likely to look at you, more likely to listen to you, and more likely to buy into your message.
Pay attention to body language. This can really give you a sense of how the audience is feeling.
Be confident and believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, chances are, others will too!