Many people cringe just hearing those two words. We all know the nerves and pressure that come along with speaking to an audience. However, public speaking is a crucial life skill to have for personal and professional endeavors. Did you know that 73% of employers list communication skills as the most valuable trait of their top employees?! Mastering public speaking will set you apart from the crowd and propel you towards success in many areas of your life. We promise you that the more you do it, the less scary it gets!
While topics may vary, the purpose of almost all speeches or presentations is to inform or persuade your audience all while keeping them engaged and entertained; but this can be tricky when you cannot stop your hands from shaking! Don’t sweat it, bloom girls; we have gathered our top tips plus crafted the perfect free outline to ensure that the next time you get up there, you will sound just like a pro! Ready to get out of your comfort zone and grow? Let’s do it!
- Know your audience
The first question you should ask yourself when prepping a speech is: who are you delivering your presentation to? Answering this will help you decipher your tone, your language, and even how you deliver your message. If you are delivering a speech to your coworkers, that will be a much different tone than if you were to be delivering a speech to a group of teenagers. Think about how your message will be perceived in terms of the makeup of your audience and from there, you can better tailor your message, language and content to better connect.
- Prep a skeleton
Speech styles can vary, but the preparation process will always be consistent. If you do not plan out your message, the delivery will inevitably be messy. It is always beneficial to start by jotting down a bigger picture outline before you get too deep into the details. You will always need these four key components, no matter your topic:
- Attention getter - the way you are capturing your audience
- Thesis - the main argument or point of what you are discussing
- Body - the bulk of your presentation, supporting your thesis
- Conclusion - where you will wrap up what you spoke about and leave the audience with the key takeaway(s)
Having this basic “skeleton” of your speech defined before you start writing the specific copy will help keep your speech concise, clear and flowing.
- Think of your points in the shape of an hourglass.
Think about the shape of an hourglass: it starts off wide at the top, then narrows down towards the middle, and gets wider at the bottom again. That is how your speech topics should flow.
- Start off general
- Narrow down your points and be specific with examples and evidence
- Re-summarize and end with a general connection to your audience
This hourglass metaphor can also be helpful when thinking about your speech structure as a whole!
- Plan out the content AND delivery
Delivering a presentation is not just about the words that you say, it is a full performance. It is important to keep in mind both parts of public speaking: the content and the delivery. Both made of different components. Content involves all that goes into your speech: what you are saying, visual aids, and just the overall setting of the speech as well. All of these should be considered prior to speaking. After your content, think about your delivery: your posture, eye contact, movement, and the vocalic portion of your speech, or the way you use your voice.
As the speaker, it is your job to engage your audience. Be enthusiastic about your topic! Maintain eye contact with your audience instead of reading head down from a paper. Move with purpose. For example, unnecessary movements can be distracting, such as swaying back and forth or talking with your hands. However, taking a step forward to emphasize a point can actually really add a powerful dynamic to your presentation!
- Remember that you are in control.
Nerves are natural. However, they can also get in the way of you performing to the best of your ability. Your presentation is going to be what you make of it! There are many simple things you can do to calm nerves prior to your delivery: drinking a lot of water, making sure you eat, doing a breathing exercise or meditation before your presentation, writing motivational quotes and blurbs in your planner, and, most importantly, using positive visualization and self-talk.
Be your own biggest motivator! Tell yourself that you can do this and any anxiety you are feeling is only temporary. Picture yourself succeeding. If you’re nervous about forgetting things, bring notecards, even if you don’t use them. If you’re feeling nervous energy, channel it into enthusiasm by using more emphasis in your voice or in your movements. Finally, no matter what presentation you are giving, think of it as conversational. Remember that you converse with people every single day, this is nothing different!
- Practice, practice, practice!
Whether you are speaking extemporaneously or have written out your speech, the best thing you can do for yourself is to practice! Write reminders in your planner or on your to-do lists for a specific time each day to practice, and then check it off! You will feel more and more confident each time you get through it. This part of your preparation will help you feel so much more comfortable when the time to deliver your speech comes. The best ways to practice:
- Give the speech to family members or friends and ask them for honest feedback
- Practice in front of a mirror
- Record yourself!
As awkward as this process may be, it will drastically improve the quality of your delivery.
Remember: no matter what kind of presentation you are giving, your preparation is key! Follow these tips and you are guaranteed success in any presentation you give. Remember bloom girls, you are all rock stars! Comment below and tell us which of these tips has worked for you. We would love to hear your feedback!
the bloom team