Over the years, I’ve given presentations on a variety of topics to audiences of all different sizes and age groups. Biggest takeaway: preparation really is everything.
Here are three tips to help you rock your next public speaking gig, startup pitch, or even just an in-office presentation:
1. Understand your audience
It’s extremely important to find out who your audience is ahead of time. What age group are you addressing? What reference/jokes will they understand? Why are they attending your presentation and what are they expecting to get out of it?
Also, don’t forget to factor in the time of day. It can completely change the content and length of your presentation. For instance, audiences in the late afternoon tend to be tired and less attentive.
2. Slim it down.
When preparing your speech, eliminate anything that’s redundant. If it doesn’t add direct value to your key takeaways/points, it’s gotta go. Make your sentences simpler. The perfect verb or noun doesn’t need a modifier.
3. When practicing, mimic game day conditions as much as possible
It’s great if you can perform your speech well in front of a mirror, but on the day you actually give it, you’re going to find yourself in a crowded room with people staring up at you and fidgeting in their seats.
Invite some friends over and practice in front of them to help mimic game day conditions. For instance, if you plan on drinking coffee the day of your presentation, drink coffee when you practice, too.
“Practice makes perfect.” How many times have you heard that phrase? Turns out, it’s popular for a reason — because it’s true!
Public speaking is one of the most nerve-wracking things most people ever do, and since every speech, crowd, and the setting is different, not much is in your control.
But your preparation absolutely is! And I promise you, if you follow these three steps, you’ll wake up the morning of your presentation feeling confident. The nerves will still be there, sure, but it’ll be much easier to get over them.
Break a leg!