Public Speaking Tips

Embrace your anxiety. Speaking in front of an audience often feels intimidating and is something many people choose to avoid. Whether a well-seasoned speaker or a novice, most people experience some level of adrenaline coursing through their bodies in response to performance pressures. The adrenaline can result in a variety of nervous gestures or habits -- you will be best served to embrace your anxiety and learn to channel and release it in a way that will not affect your performance or be noticed by the audience.

Be aware of your body language. Nervous gestures can be distracting to an audience.Some of the more common nervous gestures include: shifting from side-to-side, pacing, placing your hands in your pockets, jingling keys or change or playing with an object (like a pen or paperclip). Being aware of your body language may not only eliminate these distractions but can also help you convey your message more persuasively.

Connect with your audience. Make eye contact with them. If you don't make eye contact with your audience, you make it that much harder for them to connect to your message. Don’t be afraid to engage the audience. If an attendee is responding to your presentation, encourage him or her to comment or add to the presentation. But be sure that this interaction doesn’t take over the entire presentation so that you can cover the rest of your materials.

Connect with your emotions and show passion. Also, think about cadence and don't be afraid of silence. Above all, try to avoid simply reading your presentation aloud from a printed script. This not only causes you to look down (see the preceding paragraph), but it can make your presentation sound flat. And, with respect to style, use repetition as a golden thread. Repetition can tie your message together.

Be succinct.

If you are being asked to present on a particular topic, you will most likely know more about the topic than most of the audience. But you may spot someone in the room who has more experience. Don’t panic. Recognize your own experience and knowledge in this circumstance and consider that there are areas or new insights you can share. One of the best things to do in this situation is to acknowledge the person, recognize their knowledge and leadership to the group, and continue on with your planned presentation.