Public Speaking

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Feeling nervous before delivering a speech is natural. The challenge is to channel that nervous energy into charisma and become a more confident, engaging speaker.

Here are some proven tips on how to control your butterflies and give better presentations:

  1. Know your materials. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories, and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say, and you will keep your audience engaged.
  2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all the equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words. Practice with a timer, and remember to take time to pause and breathe.
  3. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers. This is also a good way to leave a friendly impression.
  4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area, and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
  5. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience; it’ll calm your nerves. Pause, smile, and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform that nervous energy into enthusiasm.
  6. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear, and confident. It’ll help translate your goals for a successful speech into delivery.
  7. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative, and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.
  8. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem. The audience probably never noticed it.
  9. Concentrate on the message, not the medium. Focus your attention away from your anxieties. Concentrate on your message and your audience.
  10. Gain experience. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking.
  11. Dress appropriately. First impressions will affect how your speech is received. If you’re unsure of the dress code for an event, don’t hesitate to ask the organizer. If you are the organizer, it’s safer to dress up than down.
  12. Be aware of your body language. Subtle, nervous habits such as swaying back and forth or fidgeting will be noticed by the audience. Practice in front of a mirror or record yourself to learn to control your body language. Simple actions like smiling often, utilizing the space available, and making eye contact will engage the audience and portray you as a more confident, open individual.
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