Speaking in public is most people s least favorite thing. the reason is that we re all afraid of making fools of ourselves. The more important the speech, the more frightened we become.
But stop biting your finger-nails. Public speaking is easy. It s just plain talking, and you talk all the time. Although I m basically shy(honest!), I ve been making speeches and talking on radio and television for more than 30 years, and I can tell you that public speaking is not a “gift” like musical talent or being able to draw. Anybody who can talk can speak in public. Here are some of the lessons I have learned:
Keep it simple.
Your audience2 is going to come away with one or two of your main ideas. One or two. Not ten or 20. If you can t express in a sentence or two what you intend to get across3, then your speech is not focused well enough. And if you don t have a clear idea of what you want to say, there s no way your audience will.
No matter how long or short your speech, you ve got to get your ducks in a row—how you re going to open, what major points you want to make and how you re going to close.
When I do a radio or TV piece, I often write the last sentence first. When you know where you re headed, you can choose any route to get there. A strong close is critical4: the last thing you say is what your audience will most likely remember.
Keep it short.
the standard length of a vaudeville5 act was 12 minutes. If all those troupers6 singing and dancing their hearts out couldn t go on longer without boring the audience, what makes you think you can?