Learn about your audience
Before you even begin planning your speech you should take some time to research and understand your audience. This allows you to then construct your speech with your audience in mind. For example how you talk to investors may be different to how you speak to clients.
We all know practice makes perfect so why wouldn’t you practice your public speaking? One way to feel calmer and more in control on the day of your speech is to practise and ensure you know your speech well enough beforehand so you don’t have to rely on prompts. Make sure you practise your speech aloud so that you’re aware of pace and intonation. Practising your speech out loud will also highlight the true length of your speech, making it an important task if you are subject to time constraints.
Choose the topic carefully
If you have control over the topic of your speech then take precautions to ensure your speech is relevant and contains useful insight which will be of interest to your audience, if they are learning something they are more likely to stay engaged. You should also make sure that you know the subject area inside out, making sure you’re able to answer any questions that may arise from it.
Tell a story
Instead of just relaying information to your audience members, get them excited about what you’re sharing by taking them on a journey. Don’t make your speech all about facts and figures. Provide your audience with something interesting that excites them and captivates their attention.
Remember to breathe
Sounds like an obviously one but you’d be surprised how many people forget to control their breathing. Taking regular pauses for breath not only gives the audience time to take on board what it is you’re saying, but also allows you to stay in control whilst you’re talking. Forgetting to take regular deep breaths can often leave you feeling flustered and contribute to you losing your train of thought.
Make eye contact
Take the time to briefly make eye contact with different audience members as you speak. This not only helps you become more personable but helps you gauge audience reaction. Along with this it will also help the audience feel more included in your speech.
Don’t try to put on a persona that isn’t you. People will respect the fact you’re being genuine and you’ll find it much less daunting if you aren’t worrying about people noticing if you’ve broken character.
End on a high
By ending your speech in a strong fashion your audience is left with something to remember you by. A good ending will also leave the audience with something for them to think about.
Leave time at the end of your speech to allow for questions from the audience. You should also make yourself accessible after the speech in case of any queries audience members may have.
Ask for feedback
Throughout the whole process of planning your speech ask as many people as you can for feedback. Asking people beforehand can help you improve before the day and improve your confidence, whereas asking for their thoughts after can help you improve for next time.
Whilst public speaking may be daunting at first, the more often you make speeches, the easier it will become.