How To Give a Public Speech and Still Appear Confident
Posted October 8, 2008 in Marketing
Public speaking . . . it’s the number one fear of most adults. That fear is even greater if you happen to be shy.
Yet, most small business owners will be required to make a public presentation at some point in their career.
Whether it’s a proposal presented to clients, or a talk before a professional organization, the ability to speak well in public can bolster your freelancer business in ways that nothing else can.
Quickly, some of the benefits you can get from making a public presentation include:
- Broadening your potential client base
- Establishing yourself as an expert
- Be seen as more human and more “approachable”
- Giving customers the chance to ask questions
- Getting additional publicity for your freelance business
But, this blog post isn’t about the benefits of making a public presentation. Rather, this blog post is written to help you get comfortable doing something that, in all likelihood, you’d rather not do.
Although most of us would rather not give a public speech, there are some techniques to help you feel more comfortable about it. Here are a few of them:
- Do your homework. There’s nothing worse than hearing a speaker who hasn’t done enough research into the topic that he or she is covering. Make sure that there is adequate time before your presentation for you to properly prepare.
- Organize. Your presentation should have a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. Don’t try to present too much information all at once. Focus on the most important points that you would like to get across.
- Practice. Don’t go into a presentation without giving it a trial run. If you can, grab a family member and do several trial runs of your speech. If you can’t find anyone to listen to you practice, then practice in front of the mirror.
- Take notes. But, don’t read from them. You’ll want to have notes and an outline with you to refer to as you make your presentation, but remember that it’s also important to make eye contact with various members of your audience.
- Use visual aides. PowerPoint, handouts, and other visual aides can be the speaker’s best friend. They can help clarify your points and provide additional information. (They will also give the audience something to focus on besides you.)
- Anticipate questions. One of the benefits to giving a live presentation is the ability to clear up any misunderstandings about your topic. One way to do that is to allow questions. Be prepared with answers to questions that your listeners will most likely ask.
- Ask about the facility. Find out about facility limitations in advance. Will there be a microphone? Is there a projector available for your PowerPoint presentation? Know how many minutes you have to speak and plan your speech accordingly.
- Look the part. As a freelancer I work in jeans or sweats, but I would never show up dressed that way to make a presentation. Find out what the typical dress is for the group that you will be speaking to and dress accordingly.
- Your audience is human too. They really are. In most cases they won’t notice if you make a mistake. Or, if they do notice, they’ll probably forget it quickly. They wouldn’t have asked you to speak if they didn’t want to hear what you have to say.
- Breathe. Remember to take a breath between sentences. Don’t speak too rapidly. Make sure that your audience can hear you. If you’re not sure whether everyone can hear you, ask. Don’t be afraid to pause.
One thing that helped me to overcome my fear of public speaking was taking classes throughout high school and college. Based on my experience, I would definitely say it helps some people become more comfortable. If this interests you, I recommend looking for a smaller class or group where you can get good individual attention from the instructor.
Have you had to give a public presentation lately? How did it go? What did you do right? What would you do differently?
Article translated into french by CMIC
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