There are numerous books on public speaking, all offering valuable information and different angles on the topic. To speak like a pro, keep these tips in mind:
Start by knowing your audience. Who are they? What do they really want or need to know? What is their vocabulary? How much do they know already? What works with them? Be clear also on your purpose; distill that purpose into one sentence. Keep all of this in mind as you develop the structure and content of your speech and choose visuals that support—and don’t sabotage—your purpose. And don’t forget to build into your presentation ways to involve the mind and body of the audience.
The more you rehearse, the more confident you’ll feel and the more natural you’ll sound. A solid suggestion is to memorize at least the first four minutes. Tape and time yourself. Be aware of your “vocal color,” the pitch, pace, punch and passion of your delivery. Observe and analyze your posture, appearance, gestures, eye contact and energy level. The goal is not to script every movement or rise in volume, but to become aware enough in the moment to notice yourself and what you’re doing while you’re in front of your audience. Watch and listen to other speakers; see what works and what doesn’t.
If you would rather die than speak in front of others, remember this: Speaking is about them (your audience), not you. It’s about communicating to the people who want or need what you know. You are the channel for this information, nothing more. When you speak in service of your message, fear dissipates remarkably.
Find techniques that work for you to help you warm up your body and voice, calm your mind and inspire your attitude. Prepare for the most difficult questions that might come up during Q&A. Above all, look and sound like you mean what you’re saying. Own the power of your knowledge, of your performance.
As Marian K. Woodall says in her book, Speaking to a Group: Mastering the Skill of Public Speaking: “Speakers have power; GREAT speakers have GREAT power.”