Public speaking was never an easy task. There’s a certain thrill when one speaks publicly, which is good in some cases. While in others, it turns into anxiety. However, you need not give up because you can still become a great public speaker like Socrates, Martin Luther King Jr, Winston Churchill, Tony Robbins, and Zig Ziglar, even if you’re starting. All you need to do is follow this ultimate public speaking cheat sheet.
By the end of this public speaking cheat sheet, you will be able to shed your fears of speaking in public forever and become a great public speaker.
There are a few components that make a public speaker great. One of them is the content of their speech. What do you talk about when you speak in public? Here’s how you can write a speech that’s realistic and interesting enough for your audience to listen to you as long as you are on the stage.
Following are a few things from our public speaking cheat sheet to keep in mind when writing your speech.
Define your purpose
You need to define the purpose of your speech before writing it down. You may be full of ideas about what you want to share with your audience but that’s not the purpose of your speech. The purpose of your speech will set the tone of your presentation. So, try to identify whether you’re doing this to inform, educate, or entertain people.
Keep the talking points to the minimum
Either you can talk about a few points effectively or squeeze in a bunch of main points and end up making no sense at all. Even if you have a lot to say, your speech should revolve around two to three points at the most. As a result, you’ll be able to deliver it perfectly, and your audience will remember the essence of your speech.
Speech structure should be simple
A good speech needs a good start, middle, and end. The structure is integral to an impactful speech. Most speakers tend to ignore this fact and face the consequences later. Your audience will take more interest in your speech if you present it in the right format, one that tells them your real intentions right in the beginning.
Analyze your audience
Here’s the thing, if your speech isn’t appropriate for your audience, it’s not good for anyone. So, if you want to prevent your speech from being a flop, analyze your audience first before writing the speech. Learn and analyze the demographics of your audience while writing your speech. This includes getting an idea about their academic, professional, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds to write your speech accordingly. Similarly, you must also take their gender, political affiliations, social status, and professions into account to come up with a memorable speech.
Make it thoughtful
As a speaker, you should be able to know why people are coming to listen to you in the first place. Once you know what the audience expects from your speech, you can keep it in mind while writing the speech. It should be in sync with the purpose of your speech. That’s how it will become a well-thought-out speech. Also, it’s always helpful to include ideas, facts, evidence, and incidents that are relevant to the theme of the gathering to maintain the audience’s interest.
Be an expert
You should be an absolute authority on the topic you are writing and presenting. Have a full grasp of the subject matter and an understanding of the deeper level.
You can further enhance your speech by including all the facts, figures, and supporting material you can find. Never sound like you know nothing about the subject and just standing in front of people to waste their time.
After you’ve written your speech and structured it for the event, the next phase of the public speaking cheat sheet says that you need to rehearse it as much as you can. Practice always leads you towards perfection, and the same is the case with speech making. However, over-practicing can quickly derail it all, so do not take the pressure on your nerves. Keep everything simple and sweet.
Memorize opening and closing
Even if you don’t memorize the entire speech, you must know your opening and closing by heart. If you misremember a sentence or forget a complete paragraph in the introduction or conclusion, it can become quite embarrassing for you in this case. On the other hand, if you deliver opening and closing perfectly, a few mishaps in between could be forgotten. So, practice them thoroughly and elaborate on them in the actual speech.
Arrange a meet & greet session
Some speakers even arrange a meet and greet session with their audience before the actual event where you have to deliver the speech. You’ll get a chance to share ideas with as many people as possible when you have time. Interact with them and try to appear approachable. You may even learn their names, problems, and stories. Anything that can be incorporated into your speech will be helpful.
Relax the night before the speech
Adequate rest is of utmost importance for your presentation. If you’re well-rested physically and mentally, you’ll be able to present your thoughts properly. However, if that’s not the case, you’ll appear scruffy and worn out to the public. Therefore, you need to relax properly the evening and night before the speech. Take proper sleep, listen to soothing music, hang out with your friends & family, and everything will be fresh & crystal clear in the morning.
Prepare your dress
What you wear is part of acing the first impression, and first impressions are very important in public speaking. Moreover, you do not want another clothing disaster on the stage. So, prepare your dress well in advance to avoid any such disaster in your speech. Select the dress that makes you feel comfortable and confident. If needed, get the necessary alterations done and make a full dress rehearsal if possible to check for any faults and problems.
Prepare your visuals
If you plan on having some visuals at the time of your speech, it’s best to pare them in advance. Do not make the cardinal mistake of preparing the visuals just before their speech. If you have visuals prepared in advance, you can check them thoroughly 24 hours before the speech and see if you need to change anything. Similarly, ensure that the technology system is working normally and will not malfunction during the presentation.
The last and integral part of public speaking is the delivery of your speech. How you deliver your speech on stage is more than just talking, it’s a performance. You should display a lot of animations, enthusiasm, and excitement on the stage. You should appear confident and full of energy if you want to impress your audience even before starting your speech.
If you struggle with all these things, here are a few things to try to overcome stage fright and totally captivate your audience. Following tips would certainly be of great help in this regard and deliver a fantastically wonderful speech.
Familiarize yourself with the hall
Speaking at an absolutely new stage in unfamiliar surroundings can be a bit uncomfortable, so familiarize yourself with the hall and stage you’re going to speak in. This is what most experienced speakers do prior to their presentation. This way, you’ll get a good look at the lighting, microphones, electronics, and even the seating arrangement in the room. You can ensure that everything in the room is according to your liking. This will lead to the smooth delivery of your speech, and you’ll look confident & ready.
Confidence is key. You need to look confident even if your heart is thumping and your legs are shaking. Instead of fidgeting and stuttering, look for easy and quick ways to prevent fidgeting and appear confident in front of the audience. You can do so by getting comfortable with your mistakes, smiling at your audience, and waving hands to the people who are nodding. You can even put a curtain over your nervousness by being more expressive with your emotions.
Look across your audience
When you get on stage, look at your audience and get a better idea of their mood. Do they look excited, or are some of them yawning? If you see spectators waving hands to you, it means they are enthusiastic and happy to be here. On the other hand, some may not seem keen and only make eye contact with you. It is your responsibility to respond to such spectators visually to develop a better connection between you and them. This will greatly help you deliver your speech without any real trouble.
You must maintain a pleasant and presentable smile when you are on stage. Smiling helps you relax your nerves, avoid stress, promote a sense of well-being, and enables you to create a pleasant personality. You also project self-assurance and self-confidence through a gentle smile. A smile will show your audience that you are very excited and happy to deliver this talk.
Don’t resist your anxiety
Last but not least do not resist your anxiety. You will always feel anxious and nervous, especially during the first few minutes of your presentation. Therefore, you will create more problems for yourself if you start fighting your stage fright right on the stage. Just focus on your speech, your audience, and the message you want to deliver, and the anxiety will slowly fade away.
You want to be a better public speaker, but you’re not sure where to start.
This online public speaking course is the perfect place to start. Taught by an experienced TED Talk lecturer and USC professor, this eight-week course will give you the skills you need to inject storytelling and dynamism into your speeches.
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Delivering a speech is always challenging. Even the most experienced speakers make mistakes during their presentations. However, you can prevent the same mistakes by following this public speaking cheat sheet. It will improve your public speaking skills and greatly help you shed your fears, combating stage fright. This public speaking cheat sheet is the only resource you need to become a great public speaker in a short span of time.
For more valuable cheat sheets & insights on the public speaker profession, join our course and learn the most in-demand skills.
Jeremiah O’Brian is a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. His exceptionally diverse background – from gritty nuts-and-bolts firefighting to film and theatre credits and accolades – is bolstered by his several graduate degrees.