By Pam Terry
One of the most powerful ways to improve your public speaking and to reduce nervousness is by simply preparing beforehand. You can virtually eliminate anxiety and become a “natural” and confident speaker by being prepared.
Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So true!
We’ve all ‘winged’ it a few times and you can do that, but there are several things that can go wrong. Because you’re not prepared you’re likely to be nervous, ramble, lose your place, or, worse, lose your audience, and without preparing, your presentation could be too short and, worse, too long.
Preparation is KEY. Here are the main elements, then, for effective preparation:
Step 1 – Identify your objectives
What are the objectives for you and your audience? Do you want to gain people’s trust, have them buy something at the end, get on your mailing list, etc.? What do you want the audience to gain? Usually, a public speaker wants to make people’s lives better in some way. Become crystal clear about what your objectives are and not only will they guide you, they will also build your confidence and help you in creating your introduction and close.
Step 2 – Begin your outline.
Your outline has 4 parts – your objectives (step 1), an introduction, the body and your close. Your introduction and close will be tied to your objectives. You should have no more than three main points. You can have as many sub points as time will allow.
Step 3 – Develop your introduction.
Your introduction should be succinct and grab people’s attention. One of the easiest ways to grab people’s attention is to ask a question. For example, you can begin by asking a question – whether the audience answers it or not. The question should be tied to what the audience will be getting from your talk. Then, tell them what you’re going to talk about in a broad statement and add a question, such as, “Today you will learn how to become a confident speaker in 3 easy steps. Would you like that?” Or, “Today, you’ll learn how to make a million dollars. Does that sound good to you?” When you make statements about the audience, it’s another attention grabber.
Step 4 – Develop your close.
Ask the audience if they have questions and what value they got out of your talk. By ending with the value they have received, they will leave on a high note where they feel better after having listened and participated in your presentation. Plus, they will create value for themselves by talking about it. Have a feedback form that they fill out to share what value they got and what they would like from you – give them choices, such as, a free consulting or coaching session, a way for them to sign up for your mailing list, a free eBook or give away, and if they know of any other groups where you could speak. By using the feedback forms for a drawing for a free gift, more than likely, everyone will turn one in.
Step 5 – Develop your main and sub points. Ideally, you should have no more than 3 main points and as many sub points as your time will allow. By having 3 main points, you can give your presentation in 10 minutes or longer by adding more sub points.
The more prepared you are, the lower the anxiety and the more confident you will become. If you don’t get to prepare and your anxiety level is high, take a deep breath, do the best you can and focus on giving people value, value, value. Take the focus off of you and put the focus on your audience because without your audience, there would be no presentation. It’s not about you!! Being a public speaker can be a rewarding, fun experience where you make a difference in people’s lives and they make a difference in yours. A true win/win.
Pam Terry is a speaker coach, trainer, and marketing strategist. For a free eBook on “How to Easily Develop a Presentation,” visit www.pamterry.com. You can reach Pam at 832-276-4153 or [email protected].