Speaking in public can be a scary experience, but it doesn't have to be. Here are a few suggestions to make your next speaking engagement a success for you and your audience. 1. Prepare well. When you find out that you have a speaking appointment coming up, start preparing it as soon as possible. The more time you have to prepare for it, the better.
Practice in the mirror to get used to looking toward your audience. Imagine in your mind what the room will look like and visualize someone coughing or coming in late while you are practicing. Make it as real as you can so your mind can start to become familiar with the idea of you speaking in front of many eyes. 2. Begin your talk by getting your audience's attention. You could start with a short story about yourself that will introduce your topic for you.
You could start off making them laugh by telling a good joke. You could ask them a question such as, "How many of you _____________?" You could start with an illustration or demonstration. Get your audience hooked from the beginning and it will propel you to a successful ending.
3. Look at your audience. You may not be able to look them in the eyes at first, but you need to look at them. Keeping your eyes on your notes and never looking up will cause them to lose interest in what you have to say.
One thing that might be helpful is for you to look at someone's forehead. That person will think you are looking at her and the gentleman behind her will think you are looking at him. Keep your eyes moving from forehead to forehead as you speak. This will make the audience feel that you are talking directly to them. 4. Express yourself.
You can use hand gestures, voice inflection, facial expressions or anything else that will keep your speech from sounding drab, dry and monotone. 5. Pacing back and forth can help if you don't make them sea sick. But don't pace back and forth continuously. Walk to the left side and stop.
Talk to the audience on that side of the room. Finish your point and then begin your next point as you walk to the right side and talk to those sitting on that side. Sometimes you may want to stop in the middle to look at your notes again. Pacing back and forth in this manner will keep people from falling asleep because you are keeping them moving as they follow your pace. 6. End your talk with something that they will remember.
If you want a response from them, end with an appeal or a call to action. End with a challenge. End with a recap of what you've already told them. End with another emotional or funny story. Make sure that your ending is just as powerful as your beginning and you will leave there with a feeling of satisfaction.
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