The thought of speaking in front of an audience terrifies most people. But public speaking is an important skill for most professionals. Because most professionals have not been trained in this area, they make predictable mistakes.The key to effective speaking is preparing well before the event. Preparatory activities can be divided into three main areas:
1. Know your audience. Start by figuring out the three Ws of your audience — who they are, why they are attending, and what they care about. For internal meetings make sure you clearly understand the priorities of your boss and your colleagues. For an external speech, think about the “bread-and-butter” issues that will affect the livelihood of your audience.
2. Structure your speech. Write an outline of your presentation. Make sure that your line of argument is crystal clear. Divide your speech into its introduction, body and conclusion. The body of your speech should have a logical progression. One possible structure is: here’s the problem, here’s my analysis, here’s how we could solve this problem.
3. Practice your delivery. After you’ve outlined your speech, rehearse it out loud several times. There is no other way to get comfortable with your speech so you can appear confident and natural. At the same time, rehearsing will show you the weak spots in your speech. A good way to rehearse is to present your speech to someone — a colleague or friend — who is willing to provide honest and constructive comments.
4.Your opening sets the tone for your whole speech. Put on a bright smile and start with a funny joke or amusing story. Next, introduce your audience to your thesis and show how the speech will be organized. At that point, your challenge is to turn the audience into active listeners.
5.Keep your speech as short as feasible — 30 minutes is usually as long as you want to go. Allow time at the end for a Q&A session. Be prepared for what types of questions may be asked. Get feedback — a video recording is best, but a frank colleague can also be helpful.