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Many professional public speakers have admitted that they experience stage fright each time they have to speak in front of a group of people. Part of a speaker's success is the ability to look calm outside while quivering inside. Never let your audience know that you are an anxiety filled balloon that can burst any minute if 'self-help pep talk' lets you down. First impression is important: walk to the stage exuding friendly confidence and you would have won half the battle even before you start speaking. Remember to smile. It is the clincher that enables you establish rapport with your audience.

Remind yourself that the speech is just another opportunity to engage in conversation with a group of people and you are leading it. Your goal could be to tell a story, share some relevant information in order to motivate, encourage, build or bring about some other forms of positive engagement or action. Think of yourself as someone who has something to offer your audience; something to make their lives better. Think of your audience as friends not foes. Subjugate your fears, stand tall, take a deep breath and SMILE.

Additional tips for that wow speech:

✔ Do your research
Take time during your preparation to comprehensively research your topic. Your audience expects you to be an authority in that field; don’t disappoint them. If impromptu, speak about what you already know.

✔ Know your audience

Find out who your audience is: age group, education, beliefs, career, etc. Prepare a speech that fits that particular audience.

✔ Dress code, language, interactive activities and entire speech should reflect an understanding of your audience. Dress to look smart, confident and likeable.

✔ Divide your speech into 3 parts: beginning, middle, and end (Introduction, body and conclusion).

✔ Speak clearly. Pause now and then
As a speaker, you must be audible and clear but don't shout. Don’t make the audience have to strain their ears in order to hear you because your voice is too low, you don’t pronounce words distinctly, or you speak too fast. Calm your nerves. Speak as you would in a conversation. You need to engage your audience from start to finish.

✔ Use notes as reminders.

✔ Personalize your speech. Draw illustrations, stories from your own life. That makes you a believable, knowledgeable and interesting speaker.

✔ Lighten up
Add humour, role play, pictures, get your audience to participate. Use video, PowerPoint and other gadgets to add variety and spice up your speech.

✔ When making impromptu speeches, use the KISS principle (Keep It Short & Simple). You can use the couple of minutes between getting up and starting your speech, to form a plan as you walk slowly and confidently to the front. Be sure to have an opening, middle and conclusion. Smile as you look around and make eye contact with a few people. Breathe. Then start.

✔ Never apologize or say anything that would bring you down a peg in the eyes of your audience. Pause each time you go blank or need to gather your thoughts. Ask for a drink of water or drink from the glass if already provided. Paraphrasing what you had already said could help you organise what next to say. Your audience would probably think you are emphasizing the point. Never put yourself down or seem not to know your subject well.

✔ End your speech with impact. You may conclude your speech with a rehash of the gist of the speech, a memorable quote or compelling question.

✔ Ask for questions, either at the end of the speech or in between sections as appropriate.

✔ If asked a question and you don’t have an answer, throw it back to the audience and lead the interactive discussion that follows.

✔ Thank your audience for their time.

Wishing you every success! Hope to hear from you as you begin to wow your audience!

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