Public Speaking

Like singing, public speaking is a performance. Your goal is to win opinion and to inspire action for your business or cause. Perhaps it's your business plan, and you are presenting it to a group of potential investors.

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Begin by being confident of your objective, and believing in the importance of the information you have to present. Research your presentation carefully and keep your notes typed up, organized, and close at hand. Question your own assertions, answer the questions, and make sure the answers are easy to access when you need them.

Writing a speech is a good practice. Even if you don't directly read from it, you will find that the effort spent composing the words will help you when you are called upon to speak without warning. If you do write a speech, make sure to write it as you genuinely speak, reading it aloud as you are writing to make sure the narrative flows naturally and feels good to your own ears.

As you read your speech, keep track of how long it takes to read it. If you are given 15 minutes, try to do it in 13. There is value in being succinct…and it leaves room for the perfect phrase that you may come up with right before the event.

When you print out your speech, make sure it is set up to be easy to read. It should ideally be at least 14pt type, double-spaced, in a clear, legible font.

Also useful, is a sheet with bullet points listing the order of topics in case you take a question and drift from the prepared text.

If you are giving your speech notes away as part of the event, this should occur after the speech is given. During the speech it is best if they have support materials to look at, if anything. In the same way, any PowerPoint presentation used should support your speech, but not contain it.

Because it's a performance, delivering your speech takes energy and it's the welling up of this energy in preparation for your delivery that people confuse with fear. Don't fight it, or waste time trying to squash it down. Work with it…be familiar with the feeling and recognize it as the friend it is. It's the tension generated by that energy that will make your speech interesting to hear.

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