Speaking to an audience can be a scary thing, and preparing for it can feel like climbing Mt Everest. We know that saying yes to speaking engagements will be good for our business but once we say yes it starts feeling like a heavy burden.
There are so many benefits to doing more public speaking (or beginning to do it). Speaking in front of an audience is probably the fastest route to getting clients, building a following and getting on the radar of influencers you want to collaborate with.
So how can you make it an easier and less daunting experience? The answer is to prepare properly.
Preparing properly is not about the amount of hours you dedicate to getting ready for your presentation. It’s about preparing the smart way.
In this blog I outline the 5 preparation strategies I use every time I deliver a talk. These strategies will guide you through the whole process of getting ready for your talk – from coming up with your core message to getting comfortable on stage. Follow these tips and you’ll feel calmer and more confident about public speaking, and you’ll get better responses from your audience too.
To see my 5 public speaking tips in action, watch my 6 minute talk below called ‘Rescript Your Life Story’ where I tell my own personal story of how I overcame negative stories when my life hit a big crisis (actually 2 of them) and found a more positive meaning to the events that happened. Keep scrolling to read about the 5 tips.
Now here are my 5 best public speaking tips for delivering your next talk:
Tip 1: A single message
If you want your talk to have a lasting impact it needs to have just 1 message. It’s tempting to include many messages (because we all want to give lots of value and share many things) but if you do you’ll just confuse and overwhelm your audience.
To find the 1 message for your talk, ask yourself: What’s the most important thing I can say to this audience?
You need to focus your message on who will be in the audience and what the hosts of the talk are expecting from you. Is a personal story talk more relevant for this audience or a professional how-to talk?
Your message will be the thing you leave your audience thinking about when you’ve finished speaking. It acts as the backbone of your entire talk, as everything you say points back to this key message.
# Tip 2: Unpack, then repack
It’s not always possible to know your 1 single message straight away. Often it comes out in the process of preparing for your talk.
This is why unpacking your talk really helps (and it’s a technique I use whenever I’m preparing a presentation). Like cleaning out your closets, you need to get everything out before you can see what’s important enough to keep and what you can easily throw away.
Unpacking your talk means pulling out all the things you want to say. Write all these points down on paper or in a computer file so you can see them all together. Once you’ve unpacked everything you can then pick which points you want to keep and which ones are not that interesting or important.
Now that you’ve selected the points you’re going to keep the final step is to repack them into a sequence that works for your talk.
# Tip 3: Trim and cut back
Now that you’ve repacked your talk, you’ll need to trim it back (because believe me, you’re still including too much). We all have a tendency to overload our presentations with too much content. Even with just 1 message you can include too many minor points that make your talk feel heavy.
If you’re feeling uncertain, it can help to have someone else give you feedback on what the interesting or important parts are (sometimes we can’t see them ourselves).
You’ll know you’ve trimmed it enough when you’re afraid there’s not enough content. It’s a good sign you’ve hit the right balance. In the best talks I’ve delivered I always felt a little worried that I’m not saying enough.
You’ll often get an opportunity to share more content when people ask you questions. If you watch to the end of my video, you’ll see me share extra points that I trimmed from my original talk.
# Tip 4: Read it out loud
By far the best way to practice and prepare for your talk is to speak it out loud. The purpose of doing this it to discover any holes in your talk or places where it doesn’t flow nicely or make sense.
You can do this with a friend as a rehearsal but do it first by yourself. You’ll be surprised how many improvements you can make just by doing this.
Don’t just read it off your notes or computer. You won’t pick up the holes this way. Pretend you’re actually delivering it to your audience. I find standing up really helps me feel like it’s the real thing. The parts of your talk that don’t make sense will now become obvious to you and you can make the necessary changes.
# Tip 5: Speak with your energy
The most important tip I could give you is to speak with your energy when you deliver your talk.
Unless you’re an experienced speaker, memorizing a talk (or reading it from notes) can end up sounded robotic and your audience just won’t connect with it. They don’t need to be impressed with your carefully crafted sentences. It’s so much more important that they connect with you as a person.
If you put “you” into your talk, your audience will respond better to whatever you’re sharing. If people can see that you believe in it, they will enjoy listening to you (whether they agree with the points your’e making or not).
Never compromise being present with your audience for the sake of trying to remember your lines. No one will know that you forgot that small point you’d planned to make. They’ll only remember the impact that listening to you had on them.
One last thought…
Putting yourself out there for speaking opportunities is as simple as offering free talks or approaching organisations that regularly host speakers. You’ll find the more talks you give the easier it will get, and you’ll see how effective speaking to groups is for promoting your business.
Need help? Reach out
If you’d like help to identify your key message and craft it into a powerful talk, click below to book a free Discovery Call with me.