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Cheat Sheet

Public Speaking For Dummies

Successfully preparing a speech involves gathering and organizing your information and practicing your delivery. When you’re speaking in public, use visual aids to help get your message across to the audience, make sure your speaking location is prepared ahead of time, and get a handle on stage fright. A variety of helpful Web sites are available on public speaking.

How to Prepare Your Speech

When you speak in public, you have to prepare your speech by selecting and organizing material, and writing a clear message. Once you’ve written the perfect speech, you need to prepare for the delivery.

Writing your speech

These guidelines will help you organize your material and write a speech.

  1. Resist making a speech that you don’t want to make.

  2. Organize your information in a simple pattern that the audience can easily recognize.

  3. Use various 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 right into if you run out of time. Never omit a conclusion.

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

  7. Practice out loud.

Delivering your speech

Practice these tips to deliver a speech that wows your audience:

  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. Use your hands to gesture instead of keeping them clasped in front of your crotch.

  4. Look at the audience more than your notes.

  5. Don’t pace back and forth, jingle change in your pocket, or play with your hair.

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

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

Using Visual Aids in Your Speech

Good visual aids will highlight your speech. To avoid mistakes and display your information efficiently when using the appropriate visual aids, follow these guidelines:

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

  2. Check text for spelling errors.

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

  4. You know you need time to design slides and overheads.

  5. Number all your slides and overheads.

  6. You can’t check the working condition of the slide or overhead projector too many times.

  7. Bring an extension cord and adapter.

Managing Stage Fright when Speaking

After you’ve worked hard preparing a fantastic speech, you don’t want to freeze up at the podium. Use these methods to confidently deal with stage fright:

  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 incoherent.

  2. Channel nervous tension into your performance.

  3. Work off nervous energy by taking a few deep breaths.

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

  5. Remember that the audience wants you to succeed.

Helpful Web Sites on Public Speaking

If you’re looking for tools to help research a topic and prepare a speech, try these Web sites for information on public speaking, checking facts, and finding visual aids:

TASK WEB SITE
Find great links for public speakers. www.kushnergroup.com
Start here if you’re researching a topic. www.refdesk.com
Try a web ring if you’re tired of using traditional search engines to research a topic. www.webring.org
Check out several links to humor for use in speeches. www.museumofhumor.com
Discover a gold mine of government information. www.fedworld.gov
Find a visual aid images.google.com
Go here to download the Real Player, and then listen to speeches on your computer. www.real.com

Getting a Room Ready for Your Speech

Don’t let unforeseen circumstances put a damper on your speech. Get the details of the location where you will deliver your speech ahead of time and use these tips:

  1. Get to the room early so that you have time to make changes if it’s set up improperly.

  2. Close the curtains so that the audience can’t stare out the windows.

  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.

  6. Find out exactly where the room is located and how long it takes you to get there.

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