An introduction to the Top Ten Tips
On Public Speaking
1. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
It is surprising how many people just don't prepare fully when asked to give a speech or don't even know how to prepare – maybe a few points jotted down and then they start to write the speech. This is a recipe for disaster – do learn how to prepare your speeches in detail and take as much time to as you need – you can't deliver a good speech if you are not prepared.
2. Practise, Practise, Practise
The best speech you've ever written will go awry if you don't practise your speech first. Practicing your speech will make you feel confident when it comes to deliver your speech.
3. An Open and Shut Case – Beginnings and Endings
A good beginning is vitally important – this is where you pique your audience's attention and set the scene for your message. It is also where the audience is at its most receptive, so grab them and make a connection to the audience so that they like you and want to continue listening to you.
4. Mind Your Language! – Pronunciation and Pitch
Your speech is neither a written paper that you are reading nor a conversation, but it is the spoken word. Don't make your text too stilted but don't make it too 'chatty' either. This is something that gets easier with experience as your public speaking skills grow.
5. Slow Down George! – Pacing Yourself
Nothing kills a speech more than a speaker speaking too fast!
6. Silence is Golden! – The Pause is Your Best Friend
Pauses are so important even though you can't hear them – because you can't hear them! Silence is not only golden it is powerful.
7. Smile Please! – Use Humour in Your Speech
Do consider using humour at some point in your speech – somewhere in the early stages of your speech is often a good place to use humour because it can help break down barriers with audience members and bring them together too. It also shows that you appear to be comfortable in front of the audience.
8. I Can See You! – Eye Contact
Eye contact with your audience is vital. It is important that you keep as much eye contact with your audience as you can – you are speaking to them, not avoiding them!
9. Can You See Me? – Body Language
You are the focal point of the event so make sure that you use your body to enhance your speech. Your appearance is important because it is the first thing that your audience sees as you step up to speak – dress appropriately for the event. Practice in front of a mirror to get an idea of how your body language conveys the message to your audience.
10. No More Death by PowerPoint!
'Death by Chocolate' is often a delightful treat whereas 'Death by PowerPoint' is often the tormented result of a PowerPoint presentation: a semi-darkened room, a presenter droning on while reading what is on the screen, every point illustrated by an unreadable slide – assuming that the presenter has even managed to get the equipment to work and load the presentation. If you do use a presentation, make sure it is a visual aid to enhance, illustrate and support your points - not the main focus of your speech and ensure the speech works without the presentation in case there are technical issues.