If it were easy, everyone would do it. In fact, it’s reportedly the number one fear in the USA. (Number two is death.) This suggests that many would rather die than speak publicly.

Of course, like most things, public speaking is a skill developed over time, with lots of trial and error. Still, there are ways to fast-track your oratorical ability so that you can seem proficient now.

“Some people have a way with words, and other people . . . oh, uh, not have way.”         —Steve Martin

“There are a great many ‘wetless’ bathing suits worn at the seashore, but no one ever learns to swim in them. To plunge is the only way.” —Dale Carnegie

Consider these tips:

Envision Your Audience

Know, to the best of your ability, your audience. Sometimes this will require research. Other times it’s just common sense. This is not about pleasing everybody. It’s about being considerate of your audience’s needs and wants. Remember that language can connect people, and it can also create distance. Note the value and the detriment of the following:

  • Technical language
  • Conversational language
  • Profanity
  • Questions
  • The purposeful “um,” “like,” or “right?”

Don’t Read

Most people are bad readers. Further, unless it’s a bedtime story, few audiences enjoy being read to. Instead, consider having a list of your talking points. If you’re announcing a promotion in front of your staff, perhaps this is your list:

  • I first met Charlie . . .
  • He embodies our core beliefs by . . .
  • I’m pleased to promote Charlie to . . .

Questions Are Powerful

Another method for listing is to compose the questions you plan to answer. The human brain responds well to questions, and so should yours in a short speech. You don’t need to say each question aloud but, instead, use it to direct your speech. Here’s how it might look:

  • When did you meet Charlie?
  • How does he embody our core beliefs?
  • Why are you pleased to promote Charlie?

As you deliver your speech, imagine that you are a movie camera, panning left to right and right to left, capturing reaction shots. (If it’s a speech in a large venue, request that the house lights remain on so that you can see how your presentation is being received by your audience.) Make eye contact with audience members as you pan. Good speakers will do this. Great speakers will adapt to the reactions and adjust their content accordingly.

Of course, there is more to it, but this is where we begin. Would your business benefit from a nudge in this direction? ABS Professional Services consultants are eager to meet with you. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

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