If looking at an audience makes you nervous, try not to look at anyone in the eye. Instead, look above their heads. Your audience will not be able to tell, and you will not be distracted by anyone’s expression. This will help you keep your focus on your message better. Understand the material thoroughly. You should even know facts and jokes about the topic of your speech. Use them judiciously when you feel your audience is receptive. It will also make you better prepared for any questions.
Know the audience. If you can, learn who the individuals are who are expected to attend. Greet your audience when they walk through the door. This will give the event a more personal atmosphere.
Practice all that you can prior to your speech. Try recording yourself giving the speech. Listen back to the tape to identify any areas of weakness. However, it is best to practice before loved ones, so they can give you constructive advice. Try to relax when it comes time for you speak in public. If you need time before your speech, try pausing, smiling, and silently counting to three to relax. When you start speaking, make sure you address your audience. This can also give you some extra time to calm down. Make eye contact with your audience members. Doing so makes them feel as if you are speaking directly to them and helps keep them engaged. It also makes you appear confident and poised. Look at various members of the audience as you speak to help engage as many of them as possible.
Practice as often as you can before it is time to speak to the crowd. Practice in front of a mirror and make changes if anything sounds awkward. Then, use people in your life as test subjects and ask them for a critique. Practicing your speech helps you perfect the words and the delivery.
Take a look at the venue before you make your speech. See how big the room is, how many seats there are, and what the lighting is like. You will feel less nervous when you know what environment you will be dealing with. Also, try standing at the podium to get a feel of the stage. Do not be afraid to let your audience know that you have no idea of the answer to some of their questions. People will respect your honesty and understand that you are human. This is much better than rambling on trying to convince them you know what is going on when you don’t.
Make eye contact with your audience members. Doing so makes them feel as if you are speaking directly to them and helps keep them engaged. It also makes you appear confident and poised. Look at various members of the audience as you speak to help engage as many of them as possible.
After you have written the speech, practice it over and over until it is committed to your memory. Do it in front of the bathroom mirror and watch yourself. Ask for feedback from your family or friends as you practice in front of them. They will give you tips on what needs improvement. Include examples and stories into your speech as illustrations. This will make your audience more interested in the information you are presenting. By including information about your family through stories and illustrations, the audience will see you as a person instead of another guest speaker. Limit the stories to one or two for best results. If there are problems with the lighting, the sound equipment or anything else, take it in stride. Don’t get angry or overwhelmed. Stay dignified and helpful until the problem is resolved. Pick up your speech where you left off and just move forward. People will remember your grace under pressure.
Always leave your audience wanting more. Nothing is worse than a speaker who drones on and on for what seems like hours. Instead, get your information delivered in a timely fashion. Keep the speech within the requested time parameters. However, do not keep your speech so short that you do not give your audience the information that they desire.
If you will be speaking for a long time, be sure to have a glass of water handy on the podium. It is also a good idea to have a stool behind the podium so you can perch occasionally if you get too tired. Wear comfortable shoes so that you will be able to concentrate on your speech rather than your feet.