Public speaking should not scare you to death, but the truth is, it it the number one fear for many people. Personally, after watching the movie Jaws when I was a kid, I can't think of anything worse than being chewed up by a shark! However, it is important to recognize that the anxiety caused when we have to speak in front of others can be overcome. Hiring a Communication Coach can help you deal with this properly, so you can enjoy your public speaking, whether for business or social functions. For now, here are a few golden tips that you should keep in mind:
1 – Expect nervousness every time, but don’t expect disaster. Expect success and visualize ahead of time a successful speech.
2 – Stick to what you know well, so you can ‘talk’ about it at length, with ease. Take questions throughout and have a 'conversation' with your group.
3 – Ask lots of questions of the event organizer ahead of time, to find out the size of the room, equipment, expected number of attendees, etc. Visit if possible.
4 – Talk to people in the audience before you speak. If you have a chance to meet some of them before the speaking date, or at least before your talk/speech try to mingle a bit and find out what they expect. It is good to have an ally (or several) in the audience, and it is great for you to know what they expect to hear.
5 – Reduce ‘separation anxiety’ by re-framing it as an ‘informative conversation’ within a group. Talk to them, not at them. Avoid podiums and other barriers.
6 – Remind yourself during to slow down, pause, breathe, relax and smile. Have little notes or diagrams with these reminders on the top corners of your speech as you go through it. One of two reminders per page can help you deliver at the appropriate pace and with the best intonation.
7 – Prepare point-form notes or cards and practice a lot with family, friends, etc. Avoid memorizing sentences as it always sounds boring and unnatural.
8 – Research as much as you can ahead of time, so you can be an up-to-date expert on the subject of what you are talking about. This will also give you confidence to handle any question from the audience at any time.
9 – Always relate directly to your audience. Making your speech relevant to your audience is the key to their enjoyment and interest. Ask yourself why should they listen to you? What is in it for them?
10 – What is the overall focus? Is it to inform, to entertain, to motivate, or to shock your audience? Your whole speech needs to be centred around this vision.
Good luck, have fun, and communicate with confidence and clarity!