In my not so humble opinion, the absolutely indispensable element for overcoming your fear of public speaking is to actually know what you want to say.
Unless you can afford to hire a speech writer, this means that you need to get better at speech writing and creating effective messages yourself.
This principle applies whether you are giving a speech, making a business presentation, or any other type of prepared remarks.
It means being prepared with a clear, focused message that not only makes sense, but that also resonates with the particular people you wish to reach.
No matter what else your write, it’s important to remember that the two most important things in any speech are how you start it and how you end it.
The sad fact is that you do not get a second chance to get the attention of your audience. Either you do it right away, and you will find it a struggle to do it at all.
Starting out by thanking the host for inviting you, or by saying how glad you are to be there, is boring; and boredom loses the attention of your audience faster than almost anything else.
So what are some great ways to get people’s attention right out of the gate?
- Ask a question related to the concerns of the people in your audience.
- Share an engaging quote that relates to your topic.
- Tell an intriguing story that sparks people’s interest.
How you end your speech determines whether or not you will achieve whatever the goal you wished to achieve with your speech.
That’s because the other sad fact is that most of your audience will forget most, if not all, of what you say — some by the time they leave the room, some within a day or week or two.
- If you want people to take a particular action, that’s the time for an inspirational reason for them to take it. It’s crucial to suggest only one action; otherwise people stay stuck trying to decide which action to take, and end up taking none at all.
- If you want to inspire people to adopt a deepened concern about an issue of importance to you, then your closing needs to be your final argument summing up the reasons why that concern is either a crucial benefit to them personally, or about the importance of supporting a particular worthy cause — whether it’s for the betterment of some aspect of their community, or for the wider world as a whole.
Carefully crafting how you begin and end your speech not only makes it a much better speech, both in getting the initial attention of your audience, and then sending them off with something they are more likely to remember, it also provides a tremendous benefit to you as a speaker.
It’s a powerful strategy for dealing with any nerves or fear you have about giving a speech.
There is a tremendous security in knowing exactly how to start your speech; and also knowing that, no matter what happens in the middle, you know exactly how to end it.
Preview of Coming Attractions: Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing some ideas about the middle of your speech in a future blog post.