We’ve all heard it before.  Public speaking is feared more than death itself.  It’s feared more than cancer, more than heights, more than spiders, snakes, crowded spaces, and long words (which is an actual thing – Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia).

Whether or not this is actually true though, most everyone can attest to the fact that public speaking is a terrible punishment that no one should afflict upon anyone.  But still, for some unlucky souls, public speaking is simply something they can’t get around.

Presentations, pitches, seminars – these things happen.  And depending on your occupation of choice, they can happen an awful lot.  So what’s a business professional such as yourself to do?

It’s simple really.  You become a better public speaker.

A backup plan

Life doesn’t always have your best interests at heart, and if something can go wrong, there’s a very real possibility that it will go wrong.  So to avoid the sting of a soiled presentation, it’s best to have a backup plan… or two.

What happens if their technology isn’t equipped for your technology?  What are you going to do if your PowerPoint suddenly decides to call in sick for the day?  What if your speaking partner has a family emergency?  Always plan for your ‘what ifs’ by making blueprints of your speaking venue ahead of time.  Know what they have at their disposal, who is available to assist you during that day, and where everything is located.

An early beginning

Whether you’re pitching something to a prospective partner or training a group of new employees, you should always show up early.  Setup can be awkward, and if there is a group of people staring at you as you do this, it can and will go from sort of awkward to completely unbearable.

Arrive early, and prepare for your presentation free of an audience.  Not only will this make it less uncomfortable for you and everyone there, but it will also help to keep you on that golden speaking pedestal.  You want your audience to feel like you’re professional, exclusive, and refined.  If you’re struggling with your mic in front of everyone for all to see, your perceived value will suffer.

A strong PowerPoint

If you’re going to use a PowerPoint, then you should make sure it’s there to help and not to give your presentation for you.  In other words, your slides shouldn’t be filled to the brim with the content you should be saying out loud.

Your slides should reinforce, enrich, and assist.  Concise bullets, a powerful image, or one key word – these will do more for an audience than a paragraph ever could.

A useful takeaway

The end of a speech, training session, pitch, or presentation can be confusing – so much so that people may not even realize you’re done.  One of the simplest ways to avoid this is to ensure your audience always has something to take away.

End your time with your audience with an important lesson, a time-sensitive to-do item, physical material, or anything that says, “Go now, young grasshopper.”  The audience will understand your presentation is coming to close; they will immediately receive more value from their time with you, and you can conveniently use your takeaway as your closing remarks.