You can probably find a million other sources that'll tell you to "own the stage" and pretend like the presentation hall is your living room. The fact is that, it's not, and never will be. Yes, my approach to good public speaking is similar to others, but I aim to cover things that they don't - the things that don't get too much attention that are just as important.
Chances are, if you're looking to become a full time public speaker, you would be taking a few courses over at the local University. For those of you that want to learn to speak publicly for self improvement and to boost confidence in your speech, these tips may be for you... Continue reading after the jump.
First, the basics: Keeping track of time, making eye contact, having a backup plan for equipment failure, research and preparation, and rest. I'll cover these briefly as they are self-explanatory.
1) Of course, you want to keep track of time so that you don't go over your given time, or have to rush things because you spent too much time covering another topic.
2) Having a backup plan is always mandatory because you just can't ever trust technology to be 100% reliable. Things can go wrong and not function at the least expected and most inconvenient times.
3) Preparing your speech means doing research, organizing your ideas and thoughts appropriately, and knowing how to seamlessly flow from one topic to another. Having a structured presentation helps your audience stay on par with your ideas and what you are talking about.
4) Rest and proper nourishment are both very important for sustaining a functional self state. Making sure that you get enough rest and food before and on the day of the presentation is vital. All the preparing and rehearsing that goes on before the presentation, and the energy that's exerted on the day you present puts a toll on your body. Stay away from greasy food and the likes that may make you drowsy, as well as "quick energy" snacks as they're not exactly the most reliable source of nutriment
Now that we have these covered, on to the juicy stuff:
When giving a speech, emotional expression is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Nobody wants to sound like a monotone robot delivering a speech, and nobody wants to hear it either. When you take advantage of how things can be expressed, they can act as queues for your audience to know what's important, serious, or not so serious. People, a lot of times, get stuck during their speech because of the way they expressed something. This can either result in unexpected reactions from the audience, or the lack of. For this reason, it's a good idea to practice how you will be expressing specific points, rather than having to memorize everything word for word.
Having said that, my next point is speech memorization and how you rehearse. Practice being able to word ideas differently rather than having to memorize specific terms. This is a good general skill as it could come in handy in every-day conversations, as well as important presentations, etc. You may also want to consider adding and/or replacing words in a sentence for dramatization of some sort (ie. exaggeration, degradation, making things sound simple, dangerous, serious, etc...). When you aim to make your speech flexible, not only will you be comfortable, but you can easily get out of situations where you forget what you were supposed to say.
This also means that if your vocabulary isn't as robust as you'd like it to be, you should bring out that thesaurus and start memorizing. The key with memorizing new terms is to learn them and use them - something people don't do. Write practice letters, use them in conversations with family and friends, have words written down on a post-it note, etc. The best part about bettering your speech skills is picking your own brain and figuring out what methods of practice and learning work for you.
Errors are inevitable (for the most part) when you're delivering a speech. If you think that you've heard a perfect speech with no mistakes, you're probably wrong. The person who delivered the speech most likely had amazing cover-up skills and was able to mold his words in a way where it didn't seem likes an error.
Here's a thought. When you're hearing a speech and that person makes a little mistake, do you really get upset and angry at that person, or think negatively of their validity? I don't know about you, but I certainly don't. After having talked to quite a few people about this matter, I've come to the conclusion that audiences are more forgiving than you might think. When the person delivering the speech messes up, the more uncomfortable the audience gets. This is why you should never worry about making a fool of yourself.
Here are some quick ideas on how to stay relaxed and pick up your speech after making some type of an error. When you're in the middle of saying something and you realize you lost your train of thought, you can pause for a second and restate your thought again. This is more respectable than forcing yourself to continue rambling after its occurrence. Also, after stretching your last sentence and pulling through, you can reserve a few seconds by clearing your throat or sipping your water.
So that's pretty much all of it. I didn't plan to get into too much detail with the obvious aspects since it's basic knowledge, and because it has been said a million times before by other publications. I hope these tips come in handy at least a little bit. Remember, the audience are nothing but flesh and blood, just like yourself. Being afraid of making a fool of ourselves is a characteristic that has been embedded into our brains due to pop-culture and the standards of society where every one has to be a certain way. Ask yourself, are you victim?