Whether it's a pitch to potential investors, a motivational speech for your employees or a business plan presentation, public speaking gives you the opportunity to build your reputation and leave a lasting impression.
Avoid becoming forgettable (or worse) with these five tips.
Lead with stories, follow with stats
As much as we might try to make statistics sexy, emotions are more memorable than figures. Make an idea stick in your audience's mind by telling a story that evokes emotion. Personal anecdotes build a relationship between a speaker and their audience, creating trust and credibility.
Start with a story – be it vivid, funny or uplifting – and follow with the facts and statistics behind it.
Admit your mistakes
It's never easy to do, and even harder in front of a crowd, but by admitting you've messed up, you can establish yourself as relatable, honest and most of all human.
Just don't forget to follow up with the story of how you overcame your blunder to find success.
Does it even need saying? Practice, practice, practice
Make yourself a script and read it aloud until you know every sentence, percentage point and story in and out. Then rehearse your body language. Practice smiling while you speak, breathing naturally and allowing three to eight second pauses at key moments for maximum impact.
What's your nervous tick? Practice cutting it out as you rehearse in front of real people – and make sure they give you honest critiques of what needs work.
Leave room for improv
Practice might make perfect, but perfect can be stale. Improvising shows a level of preparedness and natural comfort that no rehearsed speech ever could.
Practice your presentation until you can recite it off the cuff, but then trust yourself to break away from the script and add a bit of personality.
Don't forget about your audience
You can recite your speech in front of a mirror all you want, but all that really matters on the big day is what your audience thinks. Don't forget they're individual humans and not just a mass of eyes staring up at you.
Before your speech, think about what they will be thinking and feeling as they sit down to listen to you. Try to surprise them and connect with them to create a memorable impression.