How to Prepare for Your Next Public Speaking Engagement

May 19, 2013

You can never be too prepared to present to an audience. Knowing your presentation through and through will help boost your confidence while easing your fear and anxiety. Preparation does not just include knowing what you are going to say, it also includes how and why you are going to present the information.

Here are some tips from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of the Northwest to help you create an effective speech or presentation and overcome the fear of public speaking:

Open with Confidence — Your first task is to know the audience and the purpose of the presentation. Find out what they might expect from your remarks and what they may already know about the topic. Consider how you will grab the audience’s attention. If you need to deliver bad news, consider ways to connect with the audience from the beginning of the presentation. Be well prepared for the opening because it sets the tone for your entire presentation.

Focus on a Few Key Points — Define the major points you want to make. This will help ease your worry and increase your confidence. Outline the key concepts in your electronic visuals, on a note card, or better still use a memory technique such as stacking so you remember your key points. Avoid trying to memorize your presentation because it will sound canned and stiff rather than comfortable and real.

Support Ideas with Evidence — It is always important to provide evidence to support your main points. Supporting evidence will reinforce your points to the audience and give you a chance to explain your points more fully.

Close with a Call to Action — It is important to look at the purpose of the presentation and then determine a proper close. Emphasize the key action or actions that you want the audience to take after hearing your presentation. This serves as a nice summary of your content and assures they leave with a clear direction.

Anxiety is Normal — Most people have some presentation anxiety. Remember that people who don’t feel some stress may appear to be taking their audience for granted. Replace negative thoughts that creep into your subconscious mind with positive affirmations from yourself and others.

Show You’re Human — If you make a mistake or slip up, don’t sweat it. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Do not try to be a perfect presenter. A brief pause to collect your thoughts may feel like eternity, but it’s not. Tell stories from your personal experiences. Conduct your presentations as if you are having a conversation with people rather than talking at them.

Ask for Feedback — Accept and internalize compliments you receive without minimizing them. Remind yourself about what went well rather than what didn’t. Focus on one or two key improvement areas for the next time.

Prepare for Future Presentations — View each presentation you give as a development opportunity. Enjoy the experience. Use each presentation as an opportunity to enhance your confidence and skills for the next presentation.

For more information about giving effective presentations join us for our program, “High Impact Presentations,” being held in Bellevue on May 23 and July 18!

This post is brought to you by Dale Carnegie Training of the Northwest, providers of professional development and management course. Please connect with us on Facebook!

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