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Cheat Sheet

Public Speaking For Dummies (UK Edition)

Want to prepare the best presentation possible and be able to deliver it in the most effective way? Here you will find some quick and easy tips to help you plan what you want to say, increase your confidence about saying it and ensure you are ready for action!

Preparing Your Presentation or Speech

Looking for some quick tips to help make your presentation or speech that little bit easier? Take a look at these handy pointers and ensure that your preparation leads to optimum delivery.

  1. Resist agreeing to make a presentation or speech that you don’t want to make. Ask for time to think about the request – do you have the expertise to speak on the topic and the time to prepare well for it?

  2. Organise your information in a straightforward, logical pattern that the audience can easily understand.

  3. Use a mix of types of material – examples, stories, statistics, quotes – to maintain audience interest.

  4. Use your introduction to set the audience’s expectations.

  5. Have a special conclusion ready that you can go straight into if you run out of time. Never omit a conclusion.

  6. Anticipate the questions you may be asked and have answers ready.

  7. Practise, practise, practise your presentation or speech out loud as many times as you can.

Perfecting the Delivery of Your Presentation or Speech

What use is perfect preparation without a dynamic delivery? Print out and pin up these top tips to help keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation from beginning to end.

  1. Try to establish eye contact with your entire audience.

  2. Vary the rate, pitch and volume of your voice, as well as its tone.

  3. Avoid fidgeting with your hands. But, at the same time, use your hands to gesture instead of keeping them clasped in front of you.

  4. Look at the audience more than your notes (and if you don’t feel comfortable looking at your audience, you need to practise your presentation a few more times until you do).

  5. Avoid showing your nervousness through tics such as pacing back and forth, jingling change in your pocket, or playing with your hair.

  6. Stand behind a podium if it makes you feel more comfortable.

  7. Convey enthusiasm for your subject – it’s contagious.

Readying the Room for Your Presentation or Speech

When you're ready to deliver your well-prepared speech, follow these simple steps to make sure that your room is in order, too. These checks will be sure to eliminate any last minute surprises.

  1. Get to the room early so that you have time to make changes if the set up doesn’t suit you.

  2. Check the laptop and the projector for your PowerPoint presentation or other technical equipment to make sure you know exactly how it all works.

  3. Control audience seating. Make sure that chairs and tables are arranged in the configuration that you want. Remove extra chairs.

  4. Check the microphone and sound system while you’re standing exactly where you’ll be using them.

  5. Make sure that the room isn’t too cold or too stuffy for your audience.

  6. Familiarise yourself with the venue and where the toilets are!

Using Great Visual Aids during Speechmaking

Visual aids are a great way of reinforcing ideas that you are trying to get across in a speech. Take a look at these pointers to help you prepare and present your visual aids in the most effective way:

  1. Make PowerPoint presentations or overheads easy to read by avoiding too many words per line, too many colours, and designs that are too busy or too small.

  2. Check the text for spelling errors.

  3. Take advantage of computer software templates that help you design more interesting visual aids.

  4. Allow yourself plenty of time to design your PowerPoint presentation or overheads.

  5. Number all your overheads so they’re easy to follow.

  6. Check the working condition of the overhead projector – you can’t check it too many times!

  7. Bring an extension lead and adapter in case a huge distance exists between the nearest socket and where you want the projector to be.

Managing Stage Fright when Presenting Your Speech

Everyone suffers with nerves at some point in their lives – especially when taking the stage to deliver a speech. Try to conquer your jitters by reading through these useful tips to ensure you keep your stage fright at bay

  1. Avoid alcohol and pills – they don’t work. If they wear off before you speak, you’ll be even more nervous. If they don’t, you’ll be numbed and unable to project any human emotion or confidence.

  2. Channel nervous tension into your performance.

  3. Work off nervous energy by taking slow, deep breaths.

  4. Leave time to go to the toilet shortly before you speak.

  5. Prepare some positive affirmations to repeat to yourself to boost your confidence.

  6. Remember that the audience wants you to succeed.

  7. Smile and look as if you’re enjoying yourself – looking positive is half the battle in winning over an audience.

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