Preparation is everything when it comes to public speaking. As I look ahead at my April public speaking schedule it’s clear I have plenty of preparing to do. I’ll be presenting seven different programs (some of them multiple times). We’ve all seen that guy who reads the script or looks at and then reads his slides. I never want to be “that guy.”
Preparing for public speaking
1. This is not my first rodeo. If you’ve never spoken publicly but want that to be part of your content marketing strategy, then start speaking in front of groups; any groups that will have you. The more you speak, the more confidence you build. Your confidence or lack thereof is one of the first things that will resonate with an audience.
2. Write – a lot. The more you write about a subject, the closer you come to being an expert on that subject. Writing about any topic regularly makes you a better speaker. By writing frequently, you train your brain to think. Public speaking is about sharing your knowledge. The more you write, the better you become at conveying that knowledge through words; both written and spoken.
3. Watch videos of your past speaking engagements. I had a nasty habit of saying “um” frequently throughout my presentations. By watching videos of myself, I noticed it and then fixed my use of “ums” by replacing them with pregnant pauses.
4. Mix up previous presentations. I’m not a big fan of giving the same presentation more than once. I am, however, ready and willing to grab the best parts of several past presentations and create a new presentation that just rocks. After a presentation, stick around and talk to the audience members who want to take the time to meet you. Not only is it just plain good manners; but they also will tell you the best parts of the presentation from the audience’s perceptive.
5. Preparation and practice are not the same thing. Preparation is knowing your material cold. Double check your slide deck for accuracy. (Hint: I actually prefer to speak without a slide deck). Too much practice can come off as rote memorization. Preparation is going through your slide deck and thinking about the stories you will share so the information on the slide becomes real. If your whole presentation is the slides, then you could have just emailed that to all the attendees, right?
Stick to a simple plan
Have three key points or themes to which you circle back. Remember a good public speaker does this: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them.
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