I received an email from an engineer inquiring about my seminar, “Speaking with Confidence.” He told me he had to give a five-minute presentation to 50 people in four days. He wanted to know if I had time to help him get over his fear of speaking and boost his confidence. Did I have any tips to help him get over his anxiety about speaking?

How do you feel about making a public presentation? Are you scared speechless?

Speaking Tips To Make You Stand Out

While nobody can become a confident speaker overnight, here are a few speaking tips that will move you in the right direction.

  1. A five-minute speech is actually quite easy. Think about it by breaking it down into its separate parts. All you need is an opening sentence, three-points (with three stories), and a close. To get over the fear (and I recommend this for any length of speech), set a timer and stand in front of a mirror.  Using only your outline, rehearse your talk until you have it memorized. Your three points should “flow” from your stories.
  2. While it’s important to memorize your opening and closing sentences, you don’t need to remember the stories word-for-word. Think of giving your speech like telling your favorite joke, in which the key elements are the setup and the punch line. The middle part supports the build-up to your conclusion. And by the way, a well-rehearsed joke can be a great opener!
  3. Avoid using notes so that you can look directly at your audience while you speak. Look right into your listeners’ eyes and when you focus on someone, do so for at least three seconds. The words you say aren’t nearly as important as how you say them.
  4. Don’t spend hours rehearsing details.  Keep voicing your ideas until you feel that the speech flows. Each time you feel a wave of anxiety, find a quiet space to go over your speech. Your confidence will build!

In my friend’s post-speech response he emailed, “It went better than I expected. I heard positive feedback from most people in the audience. There was, of course, one person who offered criticism.  He thought I looked “extremely tense.”  I replied, ‘Yeah…I was,’ but I thought to myself, I’d like to see him try and do it better.”

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