7 steps to perfect public speaking

Quick tips and tricks that will give you the skills to have any crowd hanging on your every word.

Peter Iantorno January 6, 2015

The art of public speaking is one that is important irrespective of the situation it's used for. Whether it's an intimate after-dinner talk amongst a few select friends, a pivotal presentation to your whole company, or a daunting public address to a huge crowd, the principles remain the same.

But what are those principles, and how can you train yourself to hold the crowd's attention, even if you're not a naturally inspirational speech-giver? EDGAR spoke to motivational speaker Kevin Abdulrahman, and he gave us his key points on speaking in public:

1. Know your purpose

The first key to giving a good public address is to identify a clear message you want to convey and keep this in your mind always. This direction should form the basis of everything you say. Before starting any speech, it's imperative that you already know how it will end and the link between the start and the end is clear. That way your presentation has a crystal clear focus.

2. Keep an eye on the time

Speeches come in all different shapes and forms and can vary wildly depending on the time limit. Work on the rule of thumb that you can deliver one key message every seven to 10 minutes. So if you only have 10 minutes allotted time, the safest way of making sure that your key thought is delivered is to not try to say too much. You may have a few sub points to supplement your message, but stick to having one key focus.

3. Brainstorm everything

When you're planning your speech, write absolutely everything that comes to mind. Even if you think things aren't relevant or that you'll sound stupid saying them, just write them down. It's important not to hold back at this stage as this could result in you missing a vital point that would add a lot to your speech. This is your opportunity to include anything and everything. Obama speech.

4. Cut mercilessly

So you've done your brainstorm and now you're faced with a page full of ideas, some of which might be gold and some of which might be completely irrelevant. Now's the time to eliminate everything that's not imperative to the purpose of your talk. You may think that something is important, you may think it's interesting, you may love it for whatever reason, but before you include it, ask yourself, is this relevant for my audience and the purpose of the presentation? If not, then it must go. Less is more.

5. Go with the flow

Before your presentation can make sense to your audience, it must first make sense to you. Recite it out loud - this is extremely important, as what sounds great in your head can turn out to be a tongue-twister or just sound wrong when read aloud - and see if your points make sense and are in the right order. Often when you perform a speech out loud, it'll soon become clear where the weak points are and that gives you the opportunity to adjust them, creating a natural flow that the audience will be easily able to go along with. martin luther king. 6. Tell a story

While the fact that you're only delivering one key message every 10 minutes will certainly help keep things clear in your audience's mind, the best way to ensure that a point sticks is to illustrate it with an anecdote. This shouldn't be complicated, elaborate or linked too tenuously (there's no point in including a story if it's not relevant), but if you do have a simple anecdote that applies to your message, it's definitely a wise idea to use it.

7. Avoid memorising

This may sound counterintuitive, since many professionals will often grin with pride by saying that they have memorised their presentation, but the fact of the matter is, when you attempt to remember your speech word for word, all it takes is a slight lapse in concentration or a touch of nerves and the whole thing can unravel. The best way to go about preparing yourself is to set up a structure. Consider the start, middle and finish, and construct a flow that connects them, where even if you go completely blank and forget your lines, a brief glance down at a prompt card will have you back on track.

Details: Contact Kevin at ownyourcrowd.com