In his book, Inspire Any Audience, Tony Jeary explains that one way to overcome pre-speech jitters is to "know what you're talking about. Thorough preparation equals total confidence," he says. Some speakers try "winging it" and hope for the best. But they often fall flat on their faces and fail to impress the audience. Preparation is the key to successful public speaking.
Prepare to communicate with your audience by researching your topic. Books, magazines, journals, newspapers, and advocacy groups are all helpful. Government sources and legal sources can also provide you with a lot of credible information and statistics. Create a rough outline of what you want to communicate to the audience. Additions and changes will likely be made to the outline, but it is good to have an organized start so you have some direction and you don't leave important information out. It takes three weeks to prepare a good ad-lib speech. - Mark Twain, American Writer -
Melissa had to deliver a brief talk about her parttime job at the print shop. She began by explaining how she uses desktop publishing to design brochures. Then she described the process she followed to get her job in the first place. Melissa spoke about her boss and her coworkers. Next, she discussed some of the interesting projects she completed for customers. Then she included something she forgot to say about desktop publishing. Finally, Melissa thanked her audience and sat down. Melissa had spent very little time preparing her presentation. It had no central purpose. Consequently, it made little sense to her listeners. Unfortunately, many presentations sound the same way. It is not uncommon for people to sit through a presentation and find themselves wondering what they're supposed to get out of it. For this reason, it's important to make your purpose known. Similarly, the first step in preparing any good talk is to develop summary sentences that clearly define the purpose of your presentation.
In the United States, an estimated 80,000 people stand up and speak before an audience every day.
Some speakers confuse the subject with the purpose of their talk. The subject is usually quite broad. For instance, your boss might ask you to speak about the training course on computers that you just completed. With a subject that broad, you could say a great many things about it. A good talk, however, usually has a sharply focused purpose or something specific you want to say about your subject.
Listeners get overwhelmed if you try to tell them too much. The summary sentences define that purpose. They remind you and enable your listeners to know why you are speaking.
Sample Summary Sentences
The computer training course
To explain how the course will help me on my job. My talk will give three examples of how I expect to use what I learned.
My volunteer work at the homeless shelter
To persuade other students to volunteer at the center. My talk will point out how this work benefits the homeless and how students can derive fulfillment from it.
My woodworking hobby
To describe the process of making an item out of wood. My talk will discuss the important steps to follow.