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Public Speaking: Create crystal clear, powerful presentations

Written By | Feb 16, 2016

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2016 – Quick review: As you may recall, in my previous article I shared three key tools that will support you in any type of public speaking endeavor:

  • Use a Memory of a Peak Experience
  • Adjust Your Posture
  • Visualize Yourself Speaking.

I also noted that most people have two reasons they are concerned about public speaking. The first: Their actual fear of speaking in public. In today’s article I will discuss the second reason: Individuals are concerned about their real or imagined lack of knowledge when it comes to the mechanics of public speaking, including items such as knowing your target audience, how to make an outline, and so forth.

Public Speaking: Conquer the fear

Meanwhile, practice those key tools we visited last time. In my next article, I will reveal several more. As we explore these and other topics, keep in mind my firm belief that at your foundational core is what you are saying to yourself: self-talk. When your self-talk is positive, it is life changing and will shift your life into gear, helping you move forward in a positive and productive way!

You also want to be yourself. Each one of us has a unique, natural style. When it comes to public speaking, be yourself and do not be tempted to use someone else’s style…It will not feel right.

Okay, back to the mechanics of public speaking.

Whether you are addressing C-level executives or the PTA or giving helpful tips to your middle or high school age child, it is important to lay the appropriate groundwork or structure at the outset.

Here are several areas to consider when preparing and delivering your presentation:

  1. Determine the exact purpose of your talk. This will immediately allow you to achieve the clarity it takes to clearly communicate that purpose to your audience.
  2. Consider your target audience. To whom are you going to be speaking? When I deliver a similar message to different audiences, I tailor my language to fit each specific group. For example, when I talk about self-talk, I include more information on the neuroscience research involved when I am at NASA than when I am speaking at a networking group.
  3. When you have your purpose and audience clearly identified, make an outline of what you plan to say. That way, you’ll have a logical structure to follow. Your outline (and the resulting presentation) should always have an opening, a body and a closing. The outline should designate a main point or key points and supporting information. Your conclusion should tie it all neatly together.
  4. Create an opening that will grab your audience’s attention. If you are nervous or anxious about doing this, try beginning your remarks with a helpful quotation. Or ask your audience a question. However you begin, getting the audience quickly engaged is always an excellent way to start.
  5. Next, create the body of your presentation. This is where the your main points are discussed, including benefits, tips, features, and strategies. A suggestion: People more easily remember bullet points or key ideas in groups of three. Examples: Stop, drop and roll; blood, sweat and tears. Structure the body of your presentation around three main points. Each point can then be further defined with three supporting points each.
  6. Finally, you want to make sure your closing thoughts are memorable. Think to yourself: What message do I want people to leave with? Briefly summarize your main points and purpose. You can end with a rhetorical question, a quote, or a call to action such as a challenge or an appeal. And there you have it.

Once you’ve put your presentation together, make sure to practice your delivery. And remember: keep it natural!

When you’re practicing, try whenever possible to practice your speech or presentation out loud and be aware of your timing. This is the best way to ensure right up front that you stay within your allotted time—always a key factor in retaining a contemporary audience right to the end.

With regard to the actual mechanics of delivery: How do you work best? Some public speakers are most comfortable when they have their remarks fully written down and on the podium in front of them. Others find it easy to deliver their presentation more loosely, keeping on topic by consulting a small stack of 5 X 8 cards with key bullet points to cover in order. Write large and typically put one topic per card.

Either way, however, you want to make sure you are not just reading from a rigid script. Most times, that’s the best way too lose your audience. Key words or short phrases are helpful in keeping the audience interested and are also very effective in getting your ideas across succinctly.

Other things to think about:

  • Do you need any visual aids for your presentation? PowerPoint? Flipchart? Photos? Props? Will your audience be able to see what you are showing them?
  • What about audience questions? What do you anticipate?
  • What about audience feedback? Do you use evaluations?

Think through your presentation. See yourself in the audience. Do you need to add anything or eliminate anything? Do you have good transition words or statements, such as however, therefore, for instance and now what we are going to do?

The mindset that we have when we get up to make a public presentation will have a major impact on both our presentation itself and our personal connection with our audience. Following the steps above will help you achieve success.

Now get out there and have fun with it!


For more Information Contact:

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Certified Business, Life & Leadership Coach
Focusing on Confidence & Resilience Strategies, Life & Career Transition, & Business & Leadership

Certified Mediator

Twitter: @SelfTalkCoach

301-706-7226 & 703-574-0039!/susan.samakow

Ask Susan about her coaching packages and the Stress Reducing techniques she teaches: EFT (Tapping) and Breathing Exercises.


Susan Samakow

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, is a Certified Business, Life and Leadership Coach. Susan focuses on life and career transition, business and leadership, and confidence and resilience strategies. Susan is also a speaker and facilitator, as well as a Community Content Producer for WUSA 9 TV. She is the former president of the ICF Metro DC Chapter, the largest in North America. Susan’s clients are individuals, any size business and the government. Visit Susan’s website: Susan is on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.