Eight Effective Tips To Conquer Public Speaking.

Even the most seasoned communications executive can get nervous about public speaking. If you’re worried about an upcoming engagement at the podium, remember the old adage, “practice makes perfect.”

But what should you be practicing to quell your nerves and ensure your speech goes off without a hitch? Nail down an anecdote that will engage your listeners right off the bat, focus on the triumphs of your company and the services you provide, and practice in front of a live audience. Be careful not to overprepare though, as speaking from the heart always beats sounding scripted.

Below, eight communications executives from Forbes Communications Council offer advice on getting over your nerves to deliver a great speech that resonates with your audience.

1. Take Every Opportunity To Practice 

Practice, practice, practice. Practicing in front of a mirror is no comparison to a live audience, so whether it’s big or small, say yes to every opportunity to speak. And don’t let ego get in the way. It doesn’t matter if you’re a C-level executive or just starting out in your career; everybody has to start somewhere with public speaking. – Brandie ClabornIntel Security

2. Remember The Four P’s Of Public Speaking 

Prepare: It’s all about being comfortable with the topic. Know the material really well. Practice: Talk at a normal speed. Know exactly how long your presentation will last. Identify the parts where you might stumble and smooth them out. Posture: Stand up straight. Use your hands. Look directly at the audience. Passion: Most importantly, believe in what you’re talking about. The audience will know. – William Topaz, Healthcare Brands

3. Focus On Audience Empathy 

The best way to assuage fears is to remind speakers that you are there to provide value for the audience, nothing more and nothing less. Visualize a typical audience member’s journey – from their office to their cars to how they entered the building, right up to taking their seat. This will help reinforce that it’s all about the audience and take the focus off of yourself. – Jeff Murphy, SnackNation

4. Don’t Overprepare 

You know your product, mission and company better than anyone. Preparing remarks and over-rehearsing for speaking engagement can lead to higher anxiety and a less authentic (and often boring) presentation. Speaking from the heart on what you are building is the best way to get over your nerves and captivate your audience. – Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

5. Focus On Company And Customer Successes Great companies solve problems, showcase the successes of their customers and demonstrate how their products or service make lives better. This is what people want to hear about. Focus on the triumphs your company has facilitated on behalf of others because that is what resonates. – Leta Soza, AirPR

6. Find The Right Format 

Not everyone is good at a keynote. Some executives are too quiet (or too boisterous!) on a panel. Others are great in a one-to-one chat that makes them feel connected to the interviewer who will make them shine. Know the format that is best for your executive and convince conference organizers to create that format for your executive. – Eric Brown, Stitch Fix

7. Start With A Story 

Begin your presentation with a story that’s familiar, one that you can tell comfortably from memory. Audiences love anecdotes, and if you can make people laugh or feel inspired right off the bat, you will gain confidence from seeing their reactions. Starting on a high note will give you momentum for the rest of your presentation. – Adrienne Chance, Topgolf

8. Know The Difference Between Practiced And Scripted 

Everyone benefits from practice. Practice builds confidence as well as elevates one’s own self-awareness to important details when in front of an audience, such as talking speed, breathing rhythm, use of arms and the ability to interject pauses for audience reaction. Work with a trusted coach to refine these skills. Practice is not being scripted. Rather, practice will allow for spontaneity.

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