How to Prepare for Public Speaking

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In November of 2015 I joined a club called Toastmasters. All of the members of this club meet at the YMCA once a week at noon, and during this time we practice our speaking skills. Everyone’s goals are different, but it appears that the majority of the members have joined the club to become more comfortable with speaking in front of a group or large audience. I myself am terrified of speaking in front of people. When I know that a speech or presentation is coming up, I lose sleep, I forget to eat, and I feel sick to my stomach.

A couple of weeks ago I gave my first speech, “The Icebreaker”. What makes the Icebreaker seem so simple is the fact that it’s mostly about you. It’s a speech that allows you to explain a little bit about yourself to everyone to allow them to get to know you better. When I first signed up for Toastmasters, the thought of giving a speech terrified me. When I finally chose a date for my speech I became even more terrified. There were, however, a few things that I put into practice to ensure that I did the best that I could. There were also a few things that I would have done differently, some of which I will share with you today.

Take Time to Prepare.
Not taking the time to familiarize yourself with the objectives of the presentation and what you want your audience to get out of it could cause some problems when it comes time to present. If you don’t know what the point is that you’re trying to get across, what are you going to tell them? Always take time to decide on a few points that you want to get across to your audience and find ways to get those points across as effectively as possible.

Take Time to Rehearse.
This is something that I did not do. I finished writing my speech the night before I was scheduled to present it and I only practiced while lying in bed before falling asleep and in the morning while brushing my teeth. This is something that I did often in high school too. I know that if I would have taken time to prepare for my presentations and speeches, I would have been much more comfortable when I finally got in front of the group.

Rehearsing will also allow you to be more comfortable with the speech and, in turn, vary your tone, pace and style depending on what you are saying. Staying monotone doesn’t make for a very interesting speech for your audience to listen to.

What Questions Could Be Asked?
By taking some time to think about the possible questions that could be asked, it will give you time to prepare the answers and ease your mind when it comes time for the question period. A good way to know what sorts of questions could be asked would be to present in front of family and friends. Ask them to critique your presentation and come up with some points that could use a bit more clarification.

Manage Your Time.
This is something that we practice at Toastmasters as well. Whenever a new segment of the meeting starts, there is a timer to let the speaker know when they have run out of time. The more you practice, the better you will be at managing your time. Bring a timer with you if you need to give yourself a heads up throughout the presentation.

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