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Working in PR often means we are the “behind-the-scenes people,” but public speaking is an important skill that can take years to finesse. Personally, speaking in public has never really frightened me but that certainly doesn’t mean it comes naturally. I’ve been fortunate to develop some level of comfort with this skill over the yea

For many people today, nothing is quite as stressful or overwhelming as the fear of public speaking. Whatever you do for a living, speaking—and speaking well—in public settings can create more value for your company and for your personal brand. From internal team meetings to client pitches and conferences—if you’re speaking in a room that seems short on chairs, you’re speaking in public.

rs through organizations such as Toast Masters, PRSA and most recently the Downtown Denver Leadership Program  that have greatly influenced my view of and comfort with public speaking as a professional in public settings.   

Included below are the top five tips that have made my experience with public speaking less stress inducing and hopefully offers some additional insight to those who are also on their own public speaking journey. 

1.   Practice Makes Perfect. Rehearse – A LOT and do it out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Work to control filler words; pause and breathe. I like to use a timer when I’m practicing and check for parts of the presentation that I might get tripped up on to be prepared. It’s also more difficult to be nervous when you know your material inside and out. 

2. Keep It Simple. Keep your message simple and just relax, man. Often times public speakers force so much into each individual presentation which causes them to rush. It is better to deliver less information that your audience can easily comprehend than to over complicate your message.  

3. Use your body when you speak. Using hand gestures not only gives the appearance that you are more at ease but it also connects you to the material your presenting. If you’re connected to your material, others will want to plug into that connection. It is also important to take up space if you are speaking on a stage. You want to make sure you are engaging every person in the room. 

4. Smile. There is nothing as powerful as a smile. When you smile your whole body relaxes. Your shoulders go down, your breath slows and your nervousness fades a result. People are also more likely to accept information from someone who’s happy to deliver it. 

5. Relate to your audience.  In many cases when you are speaking in public you will be working from a script. That said, try to refrain reading directly from notes and instead express your expertise with a narrative or specific insight that relates to your audience. Look for ways to draw upon and relay insights from your own experience, instead of on the message alone. 

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