Public speaking: Preparing to Present

Once you have written your speech and prepared all your handouts, Powerpoint slides and other materials, it’s time to make preparations to actually deliver the material.

Perhaps the most critical decision at this point is just how will you give your speech:

  • Will you try to memorize it?
  • Will you use notes?
  • Will you just read it straight off your original copy?
  • Will you speak primarily off the cuff?

Each of these is a perfectly acceptable method of delivering a presentation The big decision for you is which makes you most comfortable while still offering the best result for your audience.

Things to think about:

  • Memorizing it can be difficult, especially since you are more likely to forget when you are nervous;
  • Reading directly from notes can be boring for the audience. Listeners want dynamic presentation generally.
  • Using your notes to guide you through a speech works fine but make sure they are printed and in a large enough font to be read easily.

Know the Speech

The most important way to prepare yourself for public speaking is to know your material backwards and forwards. While you don’t need to know everything in the field, you should know your material thoroughly. That way, when you get in front of people, you’ll have more confidence presenting the material, and you’ll be ready for any questions the audience throws your way.

An old joke goes something like this:

Tourist to native New Yorker: “How do I get to Carnage Hall?”
New Yorker: “Practice, practice, practice!”

Think about getting to your own “Carnage Hall”. Once you are happy with the written words, say them out loud … over and over and over. If you are able to get through the presentation half a dozen times before your big day, it is going to go much more smoothly on the podium.

Record yourself speaking!

If you are high-tech savvy and have the equipment, take a video of yourself giving the talk. Once you look at and listen to the work, it’s going to be easier to make adjustments to both the content and your delivery.

If you want to learn from other peoples’ examples, search online for “good speeches” and watch videos. The TED series ( is a wonderful example of both experts and “just plain folks” telling their stories. And when you are done practicing and viewing. Do it once more. If it’s possible, take your speech to the venue at which you will be speaking and quietly give it there.

Get comfortable with your surroundings. Here are some more key points to consider as your make your preparations: 

Key Points:

  • Imagine Yourself Doing Well: Part of making a great speech is having confidence in your message and yourself. Once you have gone through the writing and preparation, it will be easier to visualize yourself doing well. You’re tricking your brain into already believing in your success.
  • Always Have a Back-Up Plan: You can’t completely control the circumstances, but you can control how prepared you are for
    situations. If you plan to give a computer presentation, have a back-up plan if the computer fails. Carry an extra outfit in case
    something happens to your first one. Keep an extra set of notes in a different place. By being prepared, you can help to minimize
    stress when things go wrong.
  • Remember a Speech is a Performance: You want to be yourself, but a speech is a performance. It’s not your everyday self. Just as an actor exaggerates movements on stage, a speech is a slight exaggeration of your personality.
  • Research the Company/Audience: Learn as much as possible about the company or audience ahead of time. Check out the company’s online presence, and if possible, visit them in person. Know some of the history of the company or group. By getting to know your audience, you know what kind of language you’ll need to use. With a group of CEOs, you’ll want to keep your speech formal and direct, while if you’re speaking at wedding, jokes and informal language are more appropriate.
  • Relate the Message to the Audience: Once you’ve done your research, tailor your speech to your audience. Drive home points by letting them know exactly how your message relates to the company’s vision. In a more informal setting, such as a wedding, tying your speech into family history will help people connect to what you’re saying.
  • Dress the Part: The right clothes can help make you feel more confident. Dress appropriately for the situation. If you are speaking at a place of business, note how they dress on a regular basis and aim to be even with the sharpest dressed people. Make sure you assess each situation individually; for instance, you will obviously want to dress more formally for a business meeting than you would if you were speaking at music festival.

I have gotten very good results helping people with their public speaking fears using hypnosis. Please get in touch if you would like me to assist.



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