At some point in your life, you will be called upon to do public speaking. Whether you are speaking to an audience of three or three-thousand, here are a few key things you can do to equip yourself for success when that time comes. Using these public speaking tools will also decrease your pre-speech nerves significantly!
1. Do Not Stay Hidden Before You Speak
Unless you are Bono, Oprah, or the President, you have no reason to hide before you speak and every reason to mingle, letting people know that you are interesting and personable BEORE you take the stage. Aim to connect with individuals and build a following before you address your audience as a whole.
2. Do Not Write a Boring Intro and Have a Boring Person Read It
Your audience already has some idea of who you are, so skip the boring LinkedIn bio facts. When deciding what to include, ask yourself why your bio matters to this group of people. Keep it short and sweet, including only the most pertinent information of why they should care about who you are and what you have to say. Be sure the person introducing you has had a coffee, or three.
3. Do Not Slowly Stroll Onto the Stage
Unless you are really, REALLY famous, no one is getting a thrill out of viewing your entry. So, just get there. Fast. As humble as you may actually be, even appearing to take your time to get on stage can come off as self-important. And, if the applause after you’ve been introduced has dwindled or completely stopped before you get to center stage, you (and your entire audience) can practically taste the awkward in the room.
4. Do Not Start with “Thank you very much. It’s such a pleasure to be here.”
This was an entirely acceptable way to begin public speaking the first ten million times it was done. We are now past that mark and opening with this line is akin to saying: “Thank you for hearing me say something that you are now not listening to at all.” Starting with this line is the best way to make your audience members check their Twitter or Instagram accounts within the first 10 seconds of your speech.
5. Do Not Say, “Good morning!” …Wait for a Response, and Then Say, “Oh, Come On, You Can Do Better Than That!”
You are not your audience’s mom. You are not at summer camp. (And if you are, your audience better be under the age of 12 for this line to work.) This phrase was effective exactly one time and that was in 1964 when Art Linkletter said it. Ever since then, it’s been annoying as heck.
6. Do Not Show a Text-Heavy PowerPoint Image Right Off the Bat
No one wants to both see AND hear your words. If you are wearing a mic and are on a stage, this is your cue to aim for more words heard than seen. Don’t try to cram a bunch of text onto each slide; instead, choose simple, powerful visuals that complement your verbal message.
7. Do Not Read Your Entire Speech From Your Notes, Verbatim
Public speaking is an art. You need to practice. Take video of yourself practicing, watch it, make note of your mistakes, and then practice some more. Imbed your message into your head and your speaking style into your body so that when you are on stage, you will be freed up to speak more from your heart than your head. Anyone can read a speech out loud—don’t be “anyone;” be someone worthy of the public speaking opportunity you have.