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7 Tips for Public Speaking

Keep the audience on the edge of their seats with seven invaluable public speaking tips.

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While it’s true that some individuals are born gifted, the overwhelming majority of people are effective speakers because they train to be. Whether they have pursued a structured public speaking education or have been coached, these are the seven principles they must master to be a good public speaker.

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1. Perception: Stop Trying to Be a Great Public Speaker

People want to listen to someone who is interesting, relaxed and comfortable. Too often, when you stand up to give a speech you focus on the “public” at the expense of the “speaking.” Do the opposite. Focus on the speaking. Talking directly to your audience, be yourself and make a connection.

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2. Perfection: No One Cares But You

Even the most accomplished public speaker will make mistakes. Yet, the only one who cares about any mistake is the one who is speaking. People’s attention spans wander constantly. In fact, most people only absorb about 20 percent of a speaker’s message. Don’t stop speaking. Unless the mistake was truly earth shattering, don’t apologize for a minor slip.

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3. Visualization: If You Can See It, You Can Speak It

All great winners in life have something in common: they practise visualization to achieve their goals. The best way to fight anxiety and become a more comfortable speaker is to practise in the one place where no one else can see you-in your mind. If you visualize on a consistent basis, your mind will become used to the prospect of speaking in public and you will no longer feel anxiety and fear about it.

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4. Discipline: Practise Makes Good-Not Perfect

Your goal is not to be a perfect public speaker. You want to be an effective public speaker. And like everything else in life, that takes practise. Remember, even world champion athletes practise their craft on a consistent basis.

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5. Description: Make It Personal

Regardless of the topic, audiences respond best when speakers personalize their communication. Take every opportunity to put a face on the facts of your presentation. People like to hear about triumphs, tragedies and everyday humourous anecdotes that make up life. Capitalize on this.

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6. Inspiration: Speak to Serve

Take the fear out of public speaking by shifting the focus off yourself and onto your audience. The objective of most speeches is to benefit the audience. So while preparing, make sure you keep your audience top of mind.

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7. Anticipation: Leave Your Audience Wanting More

When it comes to public speaking, less is usually more. It’s rare to hear someone say, “I wish that speaker had spoken longer.” On the other hand, you probably can’t count the times that you’ve thought, “I’m glad that talk is over. It seemed to go on forever!” So surprise your audience. Always make your presentation just a bit shorter than anticipated. It’s better to leave your listeners wishing for more than squirming in their seats waiting for your speech finally to end.

Richard Zeoli is the author of the 7 Principles of Public Speaking.

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