It sucks being an adult. You have to do things like wake up before noon, go to the grocery store on your own, and try to hold down a steady job. Oftentimes said job will require you to give a presentation to more than two people. And some jobs will even require you speak before a full auditorium of rapt listeners. We’re saying ‘job’ here because we assume you are not an aspiring dictator of a third world country. Sinc eyou are likely not a member of the NSA, the sweats, shakes, and hives might step up during the speech to be a major hinderance. Fear not. We’ve done the research to make you a better public speaker, now all you have to do is apply the gold we have compiled.
Faith in yourself, your topic, and your general sanity is a must if you are to be a better public speaker. Many speakers are not prepared and lose confidence because of that. But others lack confidence because of the high school bully factor. They are afraid of being judged — and possibly made fun of — just like they were in high school speech class when they sweated profusely and peed a little. Yes, that’s the mature world we live in. Build your confidence by utilizing all your tools and knowing that you are the cock of the public speaking walk. Read on…
Tip: Listen to “Eye of the Tiger” before you take the stage. It’ll get you jacked up.
Know What’s Up
You have to know your topic inside and out. Nothing kills your speech like ‘um’ and ‘uh’ littering every sentence. Research your subject to the point where you are an expert — or at least not a bumbling idiot. You were likely picked to make this speech because you know remotely something about the topic, so that’s half the battle. Now get in there and learn every facet of the beast. Your speech will be crap if you half-ass it and your audience will start throwing rotten tomatoes at you. Well, they could if they wanted. We would.
Researching and knowing your topic is one thing, but actually delivering that information is a whole different ball of wax. When the lights go down and the spotlight is on you, no matter how much you know your topic, conveying the information suddenly seems daunting. Practicing your speech beforehand is a must. You will find your beats, your direction, and where to drop the F-bombs, through hours in front of the mirror rehearsing your own personal Gettysburg Address. So when you climb up on stage, it will be like riding a bike. Unless you don’t know how to ride a bike.
Tip: Videotape yourself speaking and watch it over-and-over. Then try not to kill yourself.
This is a two parter. Of course, You will want to dress appropriately for the occasion — which could be a suit or simply a casual ensemble you picked up at K Mart. Regardless of the dress code, you will want to make sure it also has the comfort you need. If the outfit is too binding, tight, stiff, whatever, it will be distracting to you and take away the concentration on your speech. If a suit is called for, get one that you can maneuver in easily and isn’t all itchy. We hate itchy.
Tip: Free ballin’ has propelled many a great speeches throughout history. You heard it here first.
Being uptight and stiff before you hit the stage will translate in a strained voice and someone who is obviously a nervous wreck. Do some speech exercises before you begin. You know, stuff like ‘the tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips’ repeated over-and-over. It will free your throat and loosen your tongue (that’s what she said). Also do some stretches to loosen your muscles. Your back, shoulders, and legs in particular need loosening. By the time you arrive at the podium, you’ll be as relaxed as the dudes who live in the Volkswagen Van at your local Blockbuster parking lot.
Tip: Two shots of vodka beforehand helps lots.
Strictly delivering your goods is getting the job done, no doubt, but what separates the men from the public speaking boys is the personal touch. Making a personal connection with someone in the audience. It might be someone you know that you can call out to, or someone on the front row you can speak directly to. Maybe your speech leads you to ask them a question, which is an easy way for you to take yourself from the stage and place yourself as one of your audience. It also takes pressure off of you. If your material does not really allow for audience questions, make eye contact when possible. Because even though you are the one on stage, you’re still a man of the people, right?
Tip: Her eyes are on her face, not a foot below the face, Sailor.
Be Robin Williams
You may not be naturally funny. In fact, you may be the antithesis of funny — as in, you suck funny from other people who happen to be funny. You get the picture. While we are not suggesting you become George Carlin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o overnight (his humor, not his living status), we absolutely insist you arm yourself with a joke or two to keep it light — assuming your speech does not deal with world hunger and such. Have a friend who has a sense of humor look over your speech and suggest some punch lines you can use. Or at least google some funny bits you can implement into your talky-talk.
Tip: Don’t laugh at your own jokes. Poindexter.