Public speaking is one of the best things we can do for our business and career. Public speaking skills are some of the most important that one can possess. The success of our businesses rests on our ability to communicate our messages and get results. Public speaking is one of the best ways to do this. We have a captive audience that’s focused on us. Public speaking positions us as an expert in our field and a thought leader. It enhances our reputation, boosts confidence and creates opportunities. Though, public speaking is one of the greatest fears of individuals. Here’s some of the ways to become a better public speaker.


Prepare. Practice. Everything takes practice and preparation. Toastmasters is a great place to practice. There are clubs all over town that meet weekly. The National Association of Speakers is headquartered right here in Tempe and meets monthly. They’re a great organization to hone your speaking skills. Colleges offer public speaking classes.  Study the masters; Winston Churchill, FDR, Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s no lack of material on speaking to study to help you. Practice your presentation before you give it to yourself, someone else or a small group. Evaluate your presentation skills. Work on areas that need improvement.


Prepare your presentation. Consider the four elements of The Communication Strategy Framework; communicator, audience, channel and message. Determine what you’re going to speak about. Speak on your areas of expertise. Know what you’re speaking about. Know your audience you’re speaking to. What do they want to hear? Know what you’re trying to accomplish. Know how you’re conveying the message. Prepare an outline based on the length of time you’re speaking. Tell them what you’re going to talk about, tell them and then tell them what you told them. Prepare a Powerpoint if you’re speaking to a group. Don’t use too many slides. Don’t have too much text or stats on them. Use a large, readable font. Use graphics. Be consistent. Provide copies of your Powerpoint.  Your Powerpoint should enhance your talk, not detract from it. Dress appropriately. Look professional. Follow the presentation planning checklist. Does your introduction grab attention and explain objectives? Did you clearly define the points of the presentation? Are they in logical sequence? Do they flow well? Do visual aids support the main points? Does your closing summarize the presentation clearly and concisely? Is the conclusion strong? Is the conclusion tied to the introduction? Are your notes in order? Have you visited the presentation site? Have you checked audio and visual aids and know how to use them? Make sure the room is arranged properly. How are the seating, lighting and temperature? Should you provide pens and notepads for taking notes?  Are drinks or snacks provided? Is there time for bathroom breaks?


Determine where you’re going to speak. There’s no lack of forums to speak at or platforms to speak on. Meetings, groups, organizations, conferences and trade shows, events and seminars are all looking for speakers. Radio, TV and online only stations need content. Host your own radio, TV or online only show or guest on shows. Contact them and offer yourself and your areas of expertise to them. Create your own forums. Host your own speaking engagements, events, meetings, conferences, seminars or workshops. Produce your own webinars, Google+ hangouts, videos and podcasts or guest on others’.


Promote your speaking engagements. Advertise on radio, TV and billboards, in print, on Google and social media. Get in other’s advertising. Print and pass out flyers. Promote them on your website. Promote them on your social media network. Create a Facebook or Google+ event.  Send an email to your email database. Get listed on Networking Phoenix’s or other organization’s calendars and their email blasts.


Be on time or better yet, early. Have an engaging opening to get and keep their attention. Use storytelling. Use humor. Quote a shocking statistic. Ask a rhetorical question. Be positive. Smile. Be yourself. Be at ease. Keep your cool. Be confident. Speak clearly. Control your voice inflection. Don’t rush. Avoid reading notes. Speak to your audience. Speak in understandable language. Develop a relationship with them. Follow the 7 C’s of communication; be clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous. Use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence; get attention, establish the need, satisfy the need, visualize the future and create action and actualization.  If you’re speaking to a group, face the audience. Maintain good eye contact. Use good body language. Engage the audience. Ask questions. Allow for questions throughout or have a Q & A at the end. Be prepared for no questions. Ask them to write down their questions if you’re having a Q & A at the end.


Whenever possible, record your presentations to review your performance. Look and hear where you can make improvements.


So now you know the importance of public speaking and how to be a better speaker. Are you doing everything you can do? Why not? I look forward to hearing or watching you speak. And please listen to me or watch me speak. Let me know if there’s anything I could do to help. Good luck.


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