Public Speaking: How to BE Ready

It’s late on Thursday afternoon and your boss calls you into her office. She isn’t feeling well and she plans to take tomorrow off. Since she will be absent, she wants you to give the presentation to the board members. She acknowledges your familiarity with the topic and that you have done the majority of the research. She knows that you will do a great job.

What goes through your head? Panic, fear, excitement, dread? It isn’t uncommon to fear public speaking, especially if you haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use this skill. You are certainly not alone. Public speaking is most Americans’ number one fear. However, that shouldn’t stop you from giving the presentation.

Put this surprise to work for you and use this presentation to your advantage. Public speaking is an excellent way to get ahead in business. You can gain recognition, set yourself apart from others and build credibility. Public speaking skills are one of the most in-demand skills recruiters look for. By nailing this opportunity, you can impress your superiors, promote yourself and even develop confidence.

How can you prepare yourself for public speaking?

The most important thing to recognize is that if you are always ready, you don’t have to get ready. The following ideas are things that you can do well before you get called into your boss’s office.

  1. Get training – Join a club such as Toastmasters International or take a class through Dale Carnegie. You could even consider hiring a speech coach.
  1. Practice, practice, practice – Volunteer to give small presentations or speeches in your community. Each time you speak in front of a group, whether it is three people or 300 people, you improve. You become slightly less nervous and you increase your confidence.
  1. Use your ears – Speak out loud in front of a mirror. Record yourself and listen to it. Watch and listen to other speakers. Observe your voice and try varying your speed and inflection.
  1. Practice in everyday life – Engage in conversation with strangers. Develop personal stories to use in future presentations. Practice making eye contact. Try to hold eye contact with someone for 10 seconds.

If you utilize these four tips, you will BE ready the next time an opportunity for public speaking presents itself!

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