For those of you who are nervous wrecks when it comes to public speaking, today’s post by guest blogger Cody Sharp is right up your alley. He provides helpful tips and gives advice on how certain preparations can make all the difference in your success as a presenter.
When I give a speech, the easiest thing to do is to get up and actually give it. The hardest part is the preparation I go through to make sure I am able to convey the appropriate message to the audience. Rigorous preparation is one of the things that can be most beneficial for uncomfortable public speakers, but also one of the things that often falls by the wayside. That isn’t to say I am an amazing speaker, on the contrary, I have simply found many ways to be nervous and do poorly. If you have an upcoming speech and aren’t looking forward to it, maybe this quick blog will be helpful for you.
If you haven’t created the content you are presenting, then it is all the more important to prepare. It is essential to present it for a friend/significant other ahead of time and see if you come off as an expert in the subject. If you’re knowledgeable and passionate about the subject, that’s good. If you’re robotic and monotone, that’s bad. The more you know something, the smoother you will be when describing it. Even more important is your passion for the topic. You can get by with a lot of fumbling for words and nervous energy if you convey your energy.
If you have actually created the content you are presenting, that is even better. You should still be prepared to change/add/remove some of the content after the first few practices. First runs rarely end up being the final speech. I find that timing myself is nearly always appropriate, except for the initial run-through. Timing yourself during the initial run-through is a struggle since you’ll likely find yourself rushing through topics to make sure you have enough time. Instead, simply go through the first run at a normal pace. Once you have went through a speech once, your internal clock will likely be better ‘set’ and you’ll have a better feel for how much time you have.
If possible, record yourself. You may be entirely surprised with the things you come up with off the cuff. It may actually be better than the material you originally wrote. This is especially true once you have gone through the speech a few times and are finding it a bit more comfortable. Unfortunately, if I don’t record myself, I often forget what I said before I finish my speech. Plus, a recording allows you to actually listen to that brilliant new addition and if you’re like me, realize later that it wasn’t so brilliant after all.
Once you have your timing and content down, it is simply time to repeat everything once again. If you are using a software presentation tool like Prezi or PowerPoint, make sure that you feel comfortable with the timing needed to control the software. If you are guest speaking at a new location, it is important to know what type of projector/computer/software is available ahead of time so you can better prepare. Always be prepared for a variety of issues by bringing your laptop, a USB thumb drive and if all else fails, a floppy disk (in case you are presenting in 1990).
When it comes time to do the speech, I like to take questions throughout. Some people would prefer to power through. In my experience, taking questions allows for people to stay engaged, especially if you are speaking shortly after lunch when people are feeling the lull of post-lunch sitting.
You may never love giving speeches but the fear of them should not paralyze you. Repetition can help make anything boring, even something as personal as giving a speech to a crowd of unknown people. I am positive that your preparation will pay off and allow you to focus on the important things – like whose business card you can grab after you speak.
Cody Sharp is the Marketing Manager at Delivra and has spoken to 1000’s of organizational leaders about using technology to both grow their company’s efficiency and revenue. With nearly a decade of experience working with digital marketing solutions, he brings a strong knowledge of the industry to the table and an excellent understanding of the future of the industry.