Everyone finds themselves in the position of having to speak in public at one time or another. You may have to give a presentation at work or school, or propose a toast at the wedding of your best friend. Whatever the occasion, you will want to feel confident and comfortable. Increasing your skills as a public speaker will be beneficial to both you and the people to whom you are speaking.
Before Your Speaking Event
Prepare in advance. Be familiar with the material your are preparing, or jot down a quick speech beforehand. Make thorough notes or an outline and memorize everything.
Check out the room in which you will deliver your speech. Make sure that sound equipment is working properly and that any visual aid equipment such as a projector and screen are functional.
Practice speaking. Practice your speech or presentation in front of a mirror, or with family members or friends. Say your speech aloud while driving in the car, or in the shower.
Time yourself. Read your speech through, at a slow, steady pace while recording. Play it back and listen for areas of improvement. Make adjustments to the length of the speech if necessary.
Pay attention to your appearance. You will be the main visual effect, so groom your hair and wear nice clothing that is clean and presentable.
Visualize yourself speaking. Think about how your voice will sound and how the audience will respond.
Familiarize yourself with the audience. Think about who you are speaking to and what they will expect to get out of your presentation. Try to greet them as they walk in so that you have already had some personal contact.
During the Speaking Event
Control your breathing. Take deep, steady breaths and relax your muscles as much as possible.
Keep it simple. Minimize distracting details in PowerPoint presentations. Do not go off on tangents; stick to your outline.
Stand up straight; do not slouch. Standing straight elongates your diaphragm and makes it easier to breathe properly and project your voice.
Vocalize properly. Focus on projecting your voice in a strong, firm manner and work on pitch and tone that are in a normal range.
Relax and be as calm as possible. Your audience will enjoy the speech if you are not visibly nervous.
Attend a Toastmasters meeting and consider joining.
Ask for feedback from colleagues to see how you can improve your performance next time.
Do not tell jokes if you are not good at this skill. If you begin with a joke that bombs, your presentation will go downhill from there.