Business professionals can’t deny the power and importance of public communication whether it’s a marketing presentation, a pitch for VC funding, or an executive announcement. Public speaking is something anyone can do, however the art of public speaking is a craft that needs to be honed just like any other skill. Following are some public speaking tips and things to consider when preparing your speech.
Nothing will run your public speaking aspirations off the track faster than thinking there’s no need for preparation. Public communication takes a great deal of practice and preparation to ensure the delivery of a high-quality and effective speech that pulls listeners in and prompts them to take action.
How far in advance you should prepare will depend on the length and complexity of your speech and prep time can vary from months, weeks, or a few days. As you create your speech and begin fine-tuning it through practice, ask yourself these questions:
- How well do I know the material?
- How comfortable do I feel delivering the material?
- Can I deliver this speech confidently?
- How often can I refer to my notes?
Chances are, the less you know the material, the less comfortable and confident you will feel. Additionally, if you cannot refer to your notes, then practice is paramount.
Confidence is key for an effective and professional delivery of your speech and the best way to harness this confidence is…you guess it, to prepare, prepare, prepare. There are many people who avoid preparing because they are nervous or they feel they can “wing it” and achieve the end-results they want. It is also possible to over-prepare. Over-preparing and underpreparing is just like overtraining or undertraining at the gym, you want to find a happy middle ground.
Here are 3 simple, effective presentation tips to keep in mind as you move forward with your public speaking practice:
- MTMI – More Time for More Important speeches. The more important the presentation and the more impact you want to have, the more time you want to put into preparing. Steve Jobs, king of the impactful speech was known to put in “hours of grueling practice.” His team spent hundreds of hours preparing for a five minute demonstration. TED Talks curator, Chris Anderson, recommends speakers prepare months in advance.
- Avoid cramming. It’s best not to “cram” for a presentation if you can help it. If you have enough notice or know the material well, the ideal formula is to give yourself two to four weeks to prepare. Cramming can result in a disorganized speech, rambling, and excessive ah’s and um’s. Organize your main points, keep it within two to four main points. Few points make it easier for people to retain. If you don’t have two weeks, even taking a little time to prepare is better than none. If you know the material well and/or it’s a brief greeting or announcement, then thirty minutes of relaxed, focus time can help you organize your thoughts, opening words and feel more poised.
- Expect the unexpected. Prepare for what could go wrong. Think about the scenarios in advance and problem solve so you have instant solutions and won’t be caught off guard. These problems could be things like a hostile audience or technology breakdowns. This is different than worrying about what could go wrong which is unproductive and will only increase anxiety. Preparing for the worst involves constructive problem solving, resulting in feeling more confident to deal with the unexpected.