Speaking in public is one of the biggest fears for many people. Some years ago I did a public speaking course because I was involved in a support group where I was expected to address a group from time to time. One encouraging point made by our lecturer was that the audience are on your side, they want you to succeed with your talk.
Sometimes it is appropriate to have a PowerPoint presentation to support your talk. It depends on the topic you are speaking about, expectations of the organisation and your audience. Technology is somewhat of a challenge to me. When I was studying at university there were occasions when we had to do group presentations and this always involved using a PowerPoint presentation. One time my group couldn’t get the PowerPoint to work and spent a long time trying to figure it out. Eventually we presented without the technology but lost marks for not doing so sooner.
Part of the public speaking course I did involved giving a talk on a topic of our own choice. One of the women felt intimidated because the person before her used a PowerPoint presentation as part of her talk. However, the woman who just stood up and spoke from her heart gave a more interesting talk which got the attention of the audience. It was her passion and her belief in what she was saying that made people listen and remember what she said.
Five Tips For Public Speaking
• Have notes or headings written on cards that fit in your hand. Sometimes you might be able to have your speech written out if you can rest it on a lectern but do not read directly from your ‘script’. Look up and establish eye contact with someone in the audience. People trust you more if you establish eye contact.
• Make sure the writing on your notes is big enough to read. If you wear bifocals or multifocals make sure you will be able to focus on your notes when you are standing in front of the audience.
• Have a glass or bottle of water on hand in case you get a dry throat. It also gives you a moment to gather your thoughts if you forget what you were going to say next.
• Speak slowly and take a breath to allow people time to absorb what you are saying. If you don’t rush your talk people will think you are confident.
• If you are using a PowerPoint presentation don’t include too many special effects. Having lots of text moving on the screen can distract from your message.
Public speaking can make you nervous but present with enthusiasm for your topic and smile. Your audience will probably not guess how nervous you are. Remember to ‘Fake it until you make it’.