First of all, if you have an upcoming speaking engagement, congratulations on being selected!
If you don’t have a speaking engagement yet, no worries. Now is a great low pressure time to learn, grow, and get comfortable speaking.
Rehearse out loud
Deliver your talk aloud. Don’t simply think about it, vocalize it.
If you’re learning to play guitar, you need to learn to “keep up” and not stop to orient your fingers. Do the same with speaking. If you make a mistake, recover. Don’t simply start over or give yourself too much thinking time. During your out-loud rehearsal proceed as though you have an audience, mistakes and all.
Spot opportunities for improvement while you’re rehearsing audibly. Frequent um’s, accidentally skipping or rushing through content, etc. are items you can work on, if necessary.
Rehearse aloud until you are speaking comfortably, confidently, and fluently.
Follow your own style
If you’re a rockstar, bring a guitar, crank it up, and jump into the audience (actually, don’t do any of those things). If you’re a natural comedian, tell a joke. If you’re a storyteller, perhaps open with a story of personal experience. Be genuine. Be yourself.
Focus on the engaged audience
Try to avoid focusing on that person and derailing your own train of thought. Ignore those who aren’t interested and don’t let it get you down. Instead, focus your attention and delivery on those who are fully engaged.
Ask about the presenting equipment available to you. If you intend to use a projector, find out what inputs are available (if you don’t already know). If it’s VGA only, ensure you have A Way To VGA ™.
If you plan to demo, pre-zoom your text. Know how to zoom in and out or adjust font sizes in applications used in demos. Learn to use magnification.
Be prepared if a demo goes completely and totally wrong. Have a working finished product you can fall back on, in case things don’t go as planned.
You don’t have to know everything
If someone asks a question and you don’t know the answer, no worries. Simply offer to connect with the individual later. If it’s a small group with a conversation feel, perhaps an audience member knows the answer and would like to share.
Relax and have fun
During your talk, you’re the star of the show! Things may not go perfectly, but they’ll likely go better if you’re having a great time. Enjoy your
talkDurationInMinutes minutes in the spotlight!
If there’s a speaker dinner or event, go! You’ve earned the right to attend. Celebrate!
Also, speaker badges make you feel amazing.