JOANNA CROSSE, <br /><strong>AUTHOR OF ‘FIND YOUR VOICE’</strong><br /><br /><strong>I’ve been promoted to a role that involves making regular presentations, but I’m no good at public speaking. How can I be more confident at making speeches?</strong><br /><br />THE first mistake made by many people who are fearful of public speaking is thinking they have to be like someone else, that they have to assume a persona. The key thing when making a speech or presentation is always to be you – capitalise on what you offer, and on your own true voice.<br /><br />Never try to wing it – the most important thing is to be prepared. Identify your audience, so that you can target your message to them. Try and think of anecdotes and examples that are going to make your talk more interesting that can illustrate the points you make, and keep these in your mental filing cabinet.<br /><br />Once you start making the presentation, make sure you have key messages that you work through, and stick to simple language – avoid jargon at all costs. People who aren’t confidant tend to fall back on jargon as a safety mechanism, but the message you’re trying to deliver can get lost, and it’s a real switch off for your audience.<br /><br />Remember that you’re in charge of your message. Even if you’re talking to experts, don’t presume they know everything about the subject you’re dealing with. Don’t hold back information because you think people know it.<br /><br />Make sure you acknowledge and speak to all the people in the room, rather than just those directly in front of you. Breathe and centre yourself before you start talking, and don’t go off too quickly. Speak more slowly than you would normally, and if you make a mistake don’t get into inner self-criticism. Just take a breath, slow down, and keep going. It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it.<br /><br />Find Your Voice - by Joanna Crosse is published by Piatkus, £12.99.