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26 Public Speaking Tips

By Paul Evans

1. No speech is ever perfect. Perfectionism creates more fear. Do your best and leave it at that.

2. Forget about what you forgot to say. Trust that the audience heard what was needed.

3. Someone has said that you should put ten hours of practice into every one hour presentation. You can, but it's over kill. Practice until you feel like you have 80%, let the other 20% take care of itself. If you know your stuff, you may not need any practice.

4. Make it clear. No rambling. No tangents. The audience should leave knowing your position whether they agree with it or not.

5. Be conversational. No sterile speech patterns. No monotone. Speak like you would to a friend over a cup of coffee.

6. Toss out ego. It's not about you or your acceptance; it's about giving the audience value they can grow from. Too many speakers have their esteem wrapped up in being liked.

7. Stop playing "What if..." What if I freeze? What if I forget?

8. Be you. Chances are high that your friends consider you warm and humorous. No one is against a speaker like that.

9. Use props if they clarify a point. In one of my presentations I have 2 jars on stage. One filled with money. One filled with trash. I get an audience member to crack the trash jar with a hammer. Then we talk about the crap they fill their lives with and the result of that. Then another person cracks the money jar. We talk about how to fill our lives with wealth. Close: "What's in your jar? Nothing you haven't placed there yourself."

10. Get to know the audience. Meet and greet before and after. Get as close to the crowd as possible when speaking. Forget the the podium.

11. Use as few notes as possible. I like a single sticky sheet with my points on it.

12. Your life provides your illustrations. Every experience holds the possibility of an example or truth others can learn from.

13. Don't tell jokes. First, most are not funny. Second, most of the people have heard the lame things. Third, a story of something foolish you did as a child is funnier than any joke on the planet.

14. You don't change lives. People have to take your words and apply them in order for change to result. You are responsible to them, not for them.

15. You become what you think about. Think scared, you'll be scared. Think passionate, you'll be passionate. Trace your feelings and you'll discover they came from thoughts.

16. Your best for this moment is the best you can do. Don't compare yourself to famous speakers. You can learn, grow, and become better, and you should. However, don't allow what you are not at this moment to hide the greatness of who you ARE at this moment.

17. Fear is part of speaking. Even the best speakers feel some slight butterflies from excitement. Fear is not unusual; it's typical. Don't be surprised by its presence.

18. You cannot get better if you do not speak regularly. Join a club like Toastmasters to get experience and exposure. There's a crazy mindset that runs through the brains of some speakers. They think that they can get in front of an audience and be fabulous the first time. Not gonna happen. No one plays an instrument without practice. The same is true with speaking.

19. Impromptu and spontaneous speaking only work when you understand the communication rules and know how to break them. Many top speakers "ad lib" 80% or more of their messages. That's only possible because they KNOW the exact response their words will bring. Their material may be new, but it's not an experiment. They know how people will react to their words before they ever use them. Do you have audience response ESP? Do you know if the audience will laugh, cry, or clap BEFORE the words come out of your mouth?

20. If you can't summarize the intended result of your speech in one sentence, then you're not clear. There should be no doubt about the value and intention of your presentation.

21. Sometimes it's your job to offend. I have an upcoming speech that is going to highly bother the attendees, but the CEO will love it. The audience will get what they need, not what they want. That's the way is has to go sometimes.

22. Don't sacrifice clarity for cuteness. If you're amazed at the cleverness of your speech, then chances are better than great that your audience won't be.

23. Outlining your speech should never take more than hour. If it does, then you're working too hard on something that almost everyone will forget. Jot down your points. Subtitle some illustrations. Then practice. Speaking is much easier than people make it out to be.

24. Self-effacing humor works miracles. Last Friday I walked into our church's baptismal pool by accident. Got soaked from the chest down. Good news: My cell phone was saved. Bad news: It went to meet its maker a few minutes later. I've gotten phone calls galore from friends teasing me. I've already jotted down the details along with several ways I can use this embarrassing tale as an illustration. If you're not willing to look dumb, then you're not too smart.

25. Don't take yourself too seriously. First, other people can recognize it, and it will turn them off. Second, your own body will recognize it and turn you off.

26. Words will never become ineffective. We live in a world of advanced technology. Multi-media abounds. But NOTHING will ever replace an individual with a bold message, the passion to share it, and an audience wanting to change.

Paul Evans is the executive creator of Instant Speaking Success. Over 24,000 public speakers receive his weekly speaking letter. Sign up is free. Paul's public speaking course has help thousands of speakers overcome fear and deliver with power and passion.

About The Author

Paul Evans is the executive creator of Instant Speaking Success. Over 24,000 public speakers receive his weekly speaking letter. Sign up is free. Paul's public speaking course has help thousands of speakers overcome fear and deliver with power and passion.


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