Public Speaking

Here are tips gathered from all of the BellaOnline editors on how to give a presentation in front of a group. I'll list multiple versions of the same item if multiple editors mention it, to indicate it was important.

The Presentation
  • Keep the slide notes short
  • Reduce slides to only short words, have images rather than words
  • Put comics into the presentation
  • Add humor
  • Have cached versions of all internet pages you want
  • Print your notes in a large font, double space notes
  • Print the outline in large type
  • Print the whole thing in large print and staple it together


Over A Week Before the Presentation Day
  • Practice ahead of time, get used to your voice
  • Tape record yourself
  • Practice the script repeatedly, color code the paragraphs, highlight key words, mark pauses
  • Practice in front of a mirror OR
  • Practice the whole thing in front of a mirror OR
  • Don't practice in front of a mirror but be aware of hand gestures OR
  • Practice in front of a video camera, in front of friends. Watch for scared postures - hunched shoulders, defensive postures. Make yourself look positive and the attitude will follow
  • Be aware you'll speak faster, you'll be nervous
  • Think of a specific moment when you were really confident. Visualize that and put your finger and thumb together. Practice until the motion brings that feeling with it.
  • Toastmasters offers lessons
  • Be well prepared
  • Be ultra prepared - memorize the speech especially the first few minutes. The first minute or two is critical.


The Week of the Presentation
  • Stand by a wall and talk to it softly - then keep backing up and getting louder to learn to project
  • Practice calming down, practice some jokes
  • Practice your intro over and over, say you're honored to be there
  • Get a good night's sleep
  • Don't wear a new outfit OR
  • Try a new haircut or outfit for confidence
  • Wear comfy clothes, very little jewelry, nothing dangly.
  • Don't wear noisy jewelry.
  • Wear something you feel confident in
  • Go with something just a bit dressier than normal
  • Dress a step above what the audience will wear.
  • Be conservative, not sexy
  • Keep backups of your presentation.
  • Be prepared for technical issues. Have a plan in case the slides fail
  • Take you own computer, take backup versions of the presentation, take old-software versions.
  • Carry important things in your carry on luggage.


The Day of the Presentation
  • Eat gentle foods - tea, water, crackers, toast, soup, jello
  • Avoid caffeine / carbonated drinks. Eat lightly - fruit, protein.
  • No coffee for 2 hrs beforehand
  • Listen to calming music, take walks
  • Warm your voice up gradually in the morning
  • Put hand on head and go hummmmmm until head buzzes


An Hour Before the Presentation
  • Go early and practice hearing your voice amplified
  • Go to the room beforehand and get everything set up and working.
  • You own the room, set the lights, set the volume, be comfortable with it.
  • Take off watch and put it down or put a clock down. Looking at a watch is bad
  • Visit the location beforehand, get used to the space, echo, etc.
  • If you're really getting ill, there are drugs
  • For more gentle help, herbal aromas - lavender, camomile
  • Ask for a podium - this is good to hold onto
  • Quiet positive thinking for 10 minutes beforehand
  • Meditate before starting


The First 90 Seconds
  • Do your calming 'hand motion' this during the 'getting started' phase
  • Warm up your voice
  • Deep breathing helps with shaking voice
  • Take a few deep breaths before you start
  • Have the introducer give a cool introduction
  • Relax and be yourself. Being nervous is normal, accept it.
  • Let them know you're nervous
  • Start with a funny story; reconnect to it at the end
  • Start with a joke
  • Joke at the beginning
  • Make a little joke to start
  • Visualize how someone confident that you know would act
  • Squeeze your toes against the inside of the bottom of your shoes
  • Do an icebreaker exercise to involve people and get people relaxed
  • Tell them up front that questions wait until the end
  • Act confident


Giving the Presentation
  • Breathe. Take deep breaths. Take silences.
  • Nerves tend to go away once you get involved
  • After the first 15 minutes it gets easier
  • Have a bottle of water and tissue handy.
  • Drink water regularly / drink lots of water
  • drink bottled water, no caffeine
  • Ask questions at the beginning of the talk to get interests
  • Don't apologize for being there, but gentle jokes are fine
  • Smile a lot
  • Take your time talking
  • Slow things down, take pauses, take drinks. Don't rush the audience.
  • Avoid monotone
  • Use hand gestures
  • Don't play with your necklace or twirl your hair.
  • Pauses are long to you but really short to the audience
  • Maximum of 15 minutes per section
  • Use lots of examples and personal stories, people remember those
  • Use real life funny stories
  • When nerves hit, drink water and take a moment to regroup
  • Avoid all uhs and ums. Just be quiet when you get stuck.
  • Don't say um. Instead, take breaths.
  • Move around a little while talking
  • Don't hang onto the podium - walk around it will help remove jitters
  • Smile, be human, move around so they don't fall asleep
  • Leave time for questions or offer a way to answer them
  • Be ready for tons of questions afterwards
  • Take questions - it gives you a chance to relax and just answer
  • Leave time for talks - people like being able to feel like their question is the spotlight
  • Be careful about questioners who are looking to get their own forum
  • If there's an emergency, direct the audience out calmly
  • If you use handouts, give them out afterwards.
  • Ask for an evaluation


Looking at the Audience
  • Hold eye contact for a few seconds OR
  • Don't look anyone in the eye - look over their heads OR
  • Focus on the smiling faces and glance at the rest occasionally. OR
  • Talk to just one person in the middle of the audience. Then switch to another and talk directly to them.
  • Look at the audience. Focus on the friendly faces and imagine you're just chatting with a friend.
  • Find 2 or 3 people in the audience and focus on them. Talk to them.
  • Look the people in the forehead, right above the eye
  • Make eye contact, slowly, look them in the eye
  • Look at the audience, not the screen.
  • Talk directly to a few friendly faces
  • Get a friendly person to sit in the first or second row, center. Talk to them.
  • Think of them as one big person
  • Look at a few friendly faces across the front row. People in the audience will just see you're "looking at the crowd". Glance in the back occasionally.


Affirmations
  • Write down affirmations - "I will be a great speaker" and recite them to yourself beforehand
  • Optimize your attitude. The listeneners want you to succeed, they want your advice
  • They want you to do a good job; they're rooting for you
  • They'll forget mistakes and remember the important parts
  • I have important information - the audience is there because they want to hear it
  • Speak from the heart
  • You are the expert
  • To them there is just one of you talking to one of them.
  • Relax. You are an expert on the topic.
  • If you know your stuff you will be confident
  • They're looking for tidbits they can use, not to find flaws
  • Be yourself, laugh at any mistakes


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