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5 Public Speaking Tips

Experienced public speakers know that there’s no substitute for proper preparation. Although it’s a good idea to be flexible in your delivery, this doesn’t mean you should skimp on preparation. Nothing beats knowing your topic inside out and preparing exactly what you want to say about it. Being fully prepared will make you far more confident in delivering your message, whether it’s a school oral presentation or a boardroom sales pitch.

Practice makes Perfect



Once you’ve got a grip on your material, it’s time to run through it over and over again, until it starts to stick in your mind and you find yourself not having to look down at your written notes. You might choose to practice by reading a printed speech out loud, reading from cue cards in front of a mirror, or delivering your speed to a friend or family member. Some sentences sound less elegant when spoken than they do in writing, and practicing your speech thoroughly will help to iron out those elements.


Know your Audience



It’s important to know what you’re going to say, but it’s equally important to know who you’ll be saying it to. The size, attitudes and expectations of your audience should determine both the content and style of your delivery. If you’re addressing a group of technical experts or academics, for example, you need to be careful to pitch your material so that you don’t waste time focusing on what the audience already knows. If you’re addressing people who are less familiar with a technical topic, you’ll need to slow things down, explain all points clearly and avoid using jargon that the audience might not be familiar with.

Similarly, if you’re addressing a group of people you don’t know personally, it’s likely you should adopt a more formal tone than when you’re addressing a group of colleagues. It’s always important to speak authoritatively, but do this without being patronizing.

Know the Venue



All too often speakers get caught up in worrying about their own delivery and forget to consider the logistics. Where are you going to be speaking? Will you be using a microphone, and does it actually work? Will it be a tight squeeze or will there be lots of room? Having an idea of what your surroundings will be and of what technologies will be available will prepare you and make you more confident.

Believe in Yourself


Finally, remember that if you’re confident, the audience will automatically pay more attention to what you say. If necessary, start by faking it. No one else can tell if you have butterflies in your stomach or if you’re shaking in your boots, if you adopt a confident posture and tone– and soon enough you’ll end up actually feeling confident. Make eye contact with people in your audience, speak clearly and stand in an upright but relaxed position, and your audience will focus on what you’re saying. Then the next time you speak in public, you won’t have to feign confidence because you’ll know you can do it.

Post courtesy of – a PR firm offering a range of public relations services in South Africa.

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