Speakers Toolkit (emergency version)

Maybe you have to speak in a meeting, lead a workshop, or present to a crowd; whatever the reason, here are 7 lifesaving tips. There’s a longer version of this, called Speakers Toolkit: How to give great speeches & presentations; read it when you’ve got more time. For now, here’s what you need to know.

The Event’s in 5 Minutes—I Need Help NOW! 7 Quick Tips

  1. Think about your audience: Who are you talking to? Imagine your speech from your listeners’ point of view: what do they want to hear, see, learn? How much of their (life)time are you asking? What else are they thinking or worrying about?
  2. Stand your ground. Most new speakers back up as they speak. This makes you seem unsure. Plant your feet, stand balanced and strong. Walk around a little if appropriate, but don’t pace or wander off. Be aware of what your hands are doing; keep them out of your pockets and off your face. Holding a pen gives them something to do. Small gestures are good.
  3. Slow down. Relax. Your audience wants you to succeed. Pause, gather your thoughts, stay conscious. Breathe in slowly through your nose. When you make an important point, pause to let it sink in.
  4. Use your voice to keep listeners interested. You have a range from soft to strong, quiet to loud(er), serious to lighthearted. Use it.
  5. Give. We get nervous when our ego says it’s all about us, so focus on giving rather than receiving. Think of your words as gifts—how can you help your audience realize their goals?
  6. Accept that you’re nervous. Of course you’re nervous. It’s normal and part of being human. Just remember that your audience wants you to succeed; they want those gifts.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. Out loud, in a mirror, while recording yourself, or silently in your head. If you have time, run through the whole speech ten times. If you have 30 seconds, pause, gather your thoughts, and decide on your main points.

Be yourself, be brief and be clear. You’ll do fine.