The number one fear of many people is public speaking. There are ways of making this easier but you need to know that even the best speakers get the jitters before they speak in front of groups. Why so? Most people say that “wanting to do a good job” is the main reason for becoming nervous, but unbeknownst to many in this group, there are three main things you can do to calm your nerves:

1.   Know your audience – Find out as much as possible about the people you are going to be speaking to. Take time to research their industry; what is going well and what isn’t. Try targeting a few audience members, asking what information would be interesting or beneficial in a speech from someone like you. Go online and locate chat groups or blogs from that industry and do your research! The more you know, the more comfortable you will be giving your talk. 

2.   Practice delivering your talk – Make an outline for your talk. Below are some key elements that you need to incorporate into any public speaking engagement, build your outline around these:                                                                                                                a. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
b. Tell them.
c. Tell them why you just told them.

Now that you have an outline for your talk, start building it out under a, b and c above.  You can use 3 x 5 cards or make 5 to 7 PowerPoint slides. If your presentation can be put on a screen use PowerPoint. If not, and you’re not used to speaking in front of people, it’s good to have props.  For smaller groups, bring an easel so you can put bullet points on poster board and for additional ascetics you can have display charts made at your local Kinko’s. Furthermore, keep an outline at the podium on a piece of paper in case you need to reference it.

Like the old saying goes, practice makes perfect and this by far is the best method of preparation. Practice giving your talk out loud while standing up in the biggest room of your house. Look around and scan the room as if you are looking at people.  When you give your actual talk you’ll want to find the friendly, smiling faces and talk to those people. For now a pillow, picture or door will do. After you do this exercise, now go to a bathroom or other area with a mirror in it and do your talk in front of the mirror. Then back to the big room for some more practice.

3.   If you can, get around and talk to people before you speak – Try to meet a few people that you’ll be speaking to, this will calm you down and now you will have friendly faces to look at during the speech. Think about throwing out some names of the people you spoke to  “Before my talk today, I had a chance to speak to Suzy (You can point to Suzy) and she gave me some great input, she told me too…..” Not only will this tell your audience you did your research but it will make Suzy feel great!  Be sure to thank whoever invited you to speak and thank your audience for their time when you are done.

Lastly, think back to a time when you were in the audience when someone else was speaking. Did they connect with you; did they seem to know your concerns, your wishes, your hopes, your challenges?  If they did, try to be like them. If they didn’t, don’t be like them, do better research, practice more, care more about your audience.

The more you are interested, caring and concerned about helping the people you are speaking to, the better job of preparing and delivering you will do. Make it happen!

© 2008 eMarketing 4 Business LLC