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5 things I know about: Speaking like a pro

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Brooke Miles
Guest Columnist

Love it or hate it, public speaking is a key skill to master in your professional life. It’s important whether you’re delivering a brief presentation in a conference room or keynote speech in a banquet hall. Here are tips for speaking like a pro:

1. Remember it’s not about you

Public speaking isn’t about enhancing your image. It’s about delivering a message. It’s about educating, inspiring and even transforming people’s perspectives. Focus on your material, and you’ll have more positive energy and fewer worries about how you “look.”

2. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes

Will audience members agree that your topic is important, or do you need to convince them? Will they understand your industry lingo or prefer layman’s terms? What key objections should you address? If possible, survey your audience beforehand.

3. Tell a story

Share a story that relates to your topic. It will liven up your presentation and make your message stick. Days and weeks after your presentation, people will remember your story more than anything else. It’s just human nature.

4. Be mindful of the time

Yes, your topic is important, but even more important is your audience’s time. Audiences don’t want to be held captive longer than they have time for. If you’re slated for a 15-minute presentation, try to deliver 10 minutes’ worth of material. That way, you have a five-minute window to answer additional questions.

5. Practice, practice, practice!

Practice in front of a mirror. Practice in front of your children or the family dog. Practice as you wash dishes or do laundry. This will give you ample opportunities to tweak your material and ultimately boost your confidence. Best of luck!

Brooke Miles is president of Delaware ShoutOut, a social media ghostwriting and training firm, and is president of the Greater Newark Area Toastmasters Club.

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