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Six tips for public speakers

It can drive fear into many, but public speaking needn’t be as terrifying as it seems. You don’t have to be an extrovert or a naturally gifted speaker to make a powerful impact, so here are six tips to ensure success.

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1. Practical set-up

Practical and technical set-up can cause considerable pre-speaking anxiety. Visit the location and ensure the stage is arranged as required and that all equipment needed is available. If a mic transmitter is provided, it may mean that you need a belt or waistband to attach it to. Reduce possible compatibility issues by saving presentation documents to all formats on a USB and the cloud. Arrive early on the day, ensure there are no trip hazards and that all equipment is working.

2. Calming nerves

Public speaking is akin to a performance, so focus on your delivery and on speaking slowly and clearly. Visualise yourself as being successful and develop your own style that you feel comfortable and confident with. In future, VR headsets may help with preparation and calming nerves for public speaking.

3. Analyse your audience

Consider the size of the crowd you’ll be presenting to and analyse the audience make-up, from age to socioeconomic background. This will help you feel more prepared, enabling you to tailor your style to the recipients.

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4. Keep it interesting and authentic

Speakers need to work to retain the engagement of their audience while being authentic, and that requires interesting, enthusiastic presentation. A memorable and powerful motivational speaker is one capable of stirring an emotional response, like, as they’re able to inspire, encourage, motivate or entertain.

5. Introduce and warm up

The host will typically arrange formal introductions, but you could suggest a few bullet points to ensure you get the intro you want. There are various ways to warm up you and your audience. For instance, a quote, an observation pertaining to the event’s location, a joke, or a question for the audience.

6. Minimise notes

Try to regularly scan the room and make ample eye contact with your audience. Notes are better used as prompts, so try to keep them light. It’s also a good idea to over-prepare your content, allowing for greater flexibility to add and drop parts as required depending on the flow of the event and your audience.

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