Before you grab that microphone and make a fool of yourself, here’s what you should consider.

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In an era where we’re all seemingly afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder, effective public speaking skills are more important than ever.

Even if you absolutely loathe public speaking, the moment will come when you will be forced to address your family or colleagues. It’s better to address your skills gap now before you botch an important speech and feel humiliated.

Don’t tell your audience you’re nervous

One of the biggest mistakes we often see is when people immediately disclose that they’re nervous. This is a huge blunder, as people can’t always read you (they don’t always know that you’re nervous, so keep it a secret if you are).

Even the highest profile people on earth who address millions of people are often nervous (and they should be because their speeches are often high-stakes). But, clueing your audience into your apprehension will make them think your speech wasn’t good. Instead, put your confidence on full display, even if you feel like you’re about to hurl.

Know your audience

People often forget that messaging is going to change depending on your audience. If you’re tasked with speaking at a momentous family occasion, you’re going to have radically different content than if you’re addressing your coworkers.

Be sure your message is tailored to your audience, or you’re going to have a hard time resonating with the crowd.

Don’t be inappropriate

Cursing is off-limits, as is any sort of divisive language that would get you in trouble with a Human Resources department.

If you’re poking fun at someone’s race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality, it’s probably a bad idea. Also, you don’t want to seem like a creep. Sexually suggestive language is probably best kept to your inner thoughts.

Ladies and gentleman, attempt to be adults when you’re addressing a crowd.

Plan out an appropriate duration of your speech

Being an effective speaker involves knowing when to stop. When people go on and on and on, the value of their contribution is diminished.

If you keep talking, your audience will start to focus on other things, and not pay attention to the importance of your speech. When you use long and repetitive run-on sentences, that make you seem long and repetitive, your audience will perceive you as long and repetitive and start wondering when your long and repetitive lecture will be over.

But don’t give a 30-second speech either, as you’re going to appear to be clueless and dimwitted.

Don’t memorize your speech

You’re going to seem robotic if you memorize your speech. You should have a free-flowing conversation with your audience. After a strong start, you should naturally progress through your speech.

Your speech will not be perfect. We stumble in everyday conversation, and we routinely continue to speak unabated. Public speaking should be no different.

Don’t listen to everyone’s advice, do what’s right for you

Public speaking takes practice, so don’t sweat it when you stumble. There is a great deal of advice online about what you should do, just like this video you’ll find above.

But in the end, you need your own strategies for success. As long as you’re respectful and have some preparation and muster up some confidence, you’ll be in good shape.

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Header image: Getty Images


Posted 02.14.2017 - 04:57 pm EDT

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Job Market pitching public speaking speech

Written by

David Grasso