Speaking in front of people, whether at a presentation or in a meeting, is an inevitability in the business world, especially if you are trying to make your mark. Public speaking is an especially critical component of good communication, and it requires practice in order to master. When you speak from a prepared but partially memorized script, you can get caught up in concentrating too hard on remembering the words, instead of delivering the message, causing you to stumble and sound choppy. Knowing your material inside and out will ensure you won’t have to think about it—you can speak deliberately, pause as needed, and enunciate certain words to enhance your message.
Follow these five secret steps to prepare for your next presentation:
- Read your talk out loud from your notes, looking up into your imaginary audience from time to time.
- Stand in front of your imaginary audience, using index cards of your talk. Review the time it takes to deliver the talk. Check back on your full notes to see what areas you need to embrace more and which you need to cut.
- Stand in front of your imaginary audience again, using your index cards. Mark red vertical lines where you need to pause, and underline words you need to enunciate. Look around the room. Imagine spotting the yawners in the crowd—those who are checking their emails and those who are chatting with their neighbor. They will all be in your audience. Practice mentally reassuring yourself—don’t let these behaviors shake you or catch you off guard on your big day. Again, note the time of the speech to make sure it’s in alignment with your slotted time frame. Review the notes to see if you’ve delivered the main points well.
- If you’re able to do so, deliver round four of your practice speech in the room you’ll be delivering your talk while it’s empty. Imagine your audience there. If you won’t have the opportunity to see the room, see if you can take some photos of the room or even look up where the presentation will take place online; it will take away that “first day of school” syndrome. Concentrate on reviewing the index cards, and give the speech one last time with the index cards.
- As you deliver the speech this time around, have fun! Speak from your heart. Smile. How’d you do on the time? Do you think the audience will be riveted by your message? Go back through your notes. Whatever you missed, you won’t on the final delivery.
Now is the time to put those cards away. Leave one card or paper on the podium, just in case. You’re now ready to deliver the talk with passion from your heart, knowing you’re bringing valuable information to the audience.
Marja Norris is the CEO and Founder of MarjaNorris.com, a company dedicated to helping women achieve their career goals with style and confidence. With a distinguished career in finance, Marja has successfully navigated the male-dominated business world. Working her way up from an entry-level assistant to a Senior Vice President, she draws on her three decades of experience in the corporate world to empower women to pursue their highest goals and blossom into everything they can be.
Marja is passionate about coaching women on projecting their best professional selves. With the publication of her latest book, The Unspoken Code: A Businesswoman’s No-Nonsense Guide to Making It in the Corporate World, Marja’s mission is to provide women with the tools to successfully navigate the workplace through heightened confidence, excellent communication skills, and dressing the part to achieve career success.