1. Instead of trying to memorize the presentation word-for-word be clear in your mind the points of what you want to get across in each part of the presentation and make bullet points of each one. These bullet points can serve to jog your memory and keep you on task to enable you to talk naturally. Trying to memorize the presentation puts pressure on you, which then triggers the stress response and makes it harder to remember what you want to say.
2. Maintain eye contact with the audience. When you do this, you keep the focus on yourself and your message. Reading from a script or slide fractures the interpersonal connection.
3. Let your personality come through. Be yourself, you will establish better credibility if your personality shines through, and your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.
4. Show passion and energy – it is contagious!
5. Keep your focus on the audience. Gauge their reactions, noticing their posture, whether they are fidgeting, talking among themselves, looking at their mobile ‘phones etc. Adjust your message, and stay flexible.
6. Know Your Audience. Your speech is about them, not you. Before you begin to write your message, consider who the message is intended for. Learn as much about your listeners as you can. This will help you determine your choice of words and level of information. Identify what you could share with them that would be of specific value for them to take away. If you get some idea of what they hope to achieve from the speech, then that will help you to prepare in a more effective way.
7. Cope with your nerves. When you’re feeling that intense stage fright setting in, use breathing exercises to force your mind to relax. Slow down your delivery and lower your tone of voice.
8. Another way to tackle nerves is to look for individuals who appear to be taking an interest in what you have to say; Make eye contact with that person and imagine you are talking to him one-on-one. Obviously you need to scan the audience and look for several people who are showing interest and rotate making eye contact with several people.
9. Use stories and anecdotes to impart information rather than deliver dry facts.
10. When using slides be creative using videos and cartoons to put your message across in a different way.
11. Get interactive – seek audience participation and involve them. Ask questions and where possible give them the opportunity to experience what you are trying to put across. Have everyone try an exercise or ask a few people to tell a personal story.
12. Watch recordings of your speeches. Notice your tone of voice and body language. Look for filler words like “um” and “so.” Try to moderate use of those words.
13. Ask for Feedback. As you speak to various groups, allow audience members to anonymously complete a feedback form and use that feedback to improve. Ask them to share one thing they liked, didn’t like, found interesting, and would recommend about your talk.
14. Watch the Time – You will be given a time for your speech, sometimes these are flexible. If the audience are aware of what time you are scheduled to finish and you go over time you might notice that they some people will get fidgety and stop listening. Finishing over time is bad manners.
15. Allow time for questions and anticipate and prepare answers to any questions that you might consider tricky.
Read Katie Hope’s article on how to overcome a terror of public speaking here
Learn how hypnosis can help you overcome the fear of public speaking.