They say that public speaking is most people’s number one fear. I don’t buy it. Although public speaking always makes me feel anxious I have my own list of what scares me the most:

  • Flying
  • Spiders
  • Being a passenger in a car
  • People stopping me in the street to ask for money

If you’d like to feel better about making presentations or speeches here are a few tips I’ve picked up over my years of teaching presentation skills (in no particular order):

  1. There is no such thing as over-practising. The more you run through your speech or presentation the better it will be on the big day
  2. Use Powerpoint (PPT) sparingly. Choose visual content rather than words. Turn off your PPT by using the “b” or “w” keys (try it – it actually works!) during your presentation so your audience concentrates just on you and your message
  3. Work out where and how you want to finish your presentation and work backwards from there. That way your whole presentation will have a simple, logical flow that people will easily follow
  4. Use silence to give your audience (and yourself) a rest. They will appreciate that you’ve given them time to catch up with what you’ve been saying
  5. Work on removing “um” from your vocabulary and any other filler word that has no meaning (ah, you know, so, etc). The best way to do this is to be aware of when you say it – get your partner or work colleague to pick you up on it each time. It won’t take long before it disappears entirely
  6. Don’t forget to breathe. You may need to stop talking to do this but that’s good for you and your audience (see point 4 above)
  7. Never, ever introduce yourself with “For those of you who don’t know me…” I know, most people see you as a famous rockstar – how could anyone not know you?
  8. Try to have a few STAR (something they’ll always remember) moments in your presentation. This could be a shocking statistic, a poignant visual or a personal anecdote
  9. Never forget that your audience wants you to succeed. They want you to entertain them, teach them something and give them food for thought later