Public speaking is one of the scariest things in the world. It takes guts and it takes confidence. Luckily these are things that we can teach ourselves. Here are a few important steps you need to take before you ever deliver a speech:
The first and most important step is to know your topic. Even if you are giving a speech on snails and don’t know anything about them, do your research! You need to become an expert on any and every topic that comes your way. Use your research skills.
Use the Internet or your local library. Knowing your topic will give you confidence. Cheat a little. No don’t cheat by going online and typing your speech topic into Google. After you have done your research you should have a list of points you want to talk about. Do your best to memorize your key talking points, but it does not hurt to make yourself a cheat sheet. You are going to be a little bit nervous, so having note cards or a PowerPoint presentation to look on or follow along with will do wonders for your speech and preparedness.
Imitate great speakers. In your research you should look up a speech of someone you admire. Perhaps Winston Churchill or think back to a wedding toast you liked that your friend gave. What made them come across as confident public speakers? If you can try to find video of someone you admire speaking and do your best imitation. Of course, make it your own; you don’t want to be obviously doing an impression.
Look the part. You may have the next “I Have a Dream” in your hands, but who is going to take you seriously if you are wearing a Hawaiian shirt? Try to look your best on the day of your speech. If you don’t have to worry about what you look like, well that’s one less thing to worry about.