Most of us would rather dig a ditch than give a speech. However, the holidays are upon us with end-of-the-year presentations and all manner of gatherings (online or in person) that may require taking center stage.
The next time you’re offered the chance to make a presentation, say “Yes!” and follow this advice:
Learn about your audience
Who will be listening and what is important to them? If you’re following other speakers, find out who they are and get an idea of what they’re going to cover so you can fit your remarks into the right context.
Know your material
Do enough research to understand your topic and anticipate the questions you’re likely to be asked. Prepare an outline, if not a whole speech, and follow it as you talk.
Be clear on the reason for your speech
Audiences rarely enjoy vague, wishy-washy speeches. Decide what you want your main takeaway to be with a clear call to action, and structure your speech around it.
Practice, practice, practice
Run through the speech a few times before you deliver it to an audience. You’ll feel more comfortable with a solid mastery of the words.
Have a strong opening
You don’t necessarily have to open with a joke, but your opening lines should be clear and focused. Briefly thank the host and the audience, then confidently move into the bulk of your speech.
Finish on time
Few listeners ever wish that a speech was longer. As you practice, keep an eye on how much time you’re using, and stick to the time limit. If you come up short, you can always take questions.