10 Sep 21 Ways to Win at Public Speaking

English: A Sennheiser Microphone

English: A Sennheiser Microphone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Public speaking is an essential skill — not just for CEOs and Oscar winners — but for each and every one of us. Whether you are asked to give a toast at a wedding, say a few words at a birthday dinner, nail a sales presentation, or speak to the student body, might as well shoot for the stars.

Here are 21 steps to mastery:

1. Dress to Stand Out

When spotted in the crowd, don’t blend in. Be a touch dressier than the audience and wear a bright color or at least a bold accessory.

2. Be Aware of Your Body

Stand tall with your shoulders back, unclench your fists and take a deep breath. Great posture exudes confidence.

3. Limit the Thank-Yous

Only those being thanked tend to listen so if you begin with the thank-yous, you risk losing your audience before you capture them.

4. Write It Down

Spend time writing and editing your speech, and have it completed at least a few days in advance.

5. Rehearse and Repeat

Even if you use notes, repeat your speech so many times that they become a safety rather than a necessity.

6. Tell a Story

Look at the Presidential candidates. They are most engaging when they incorporate anecdotes about themselves or others. Do the same.

7. Make It Personal

To connect with your audience, throw a splash of yourself in there – if it’s relatable, it’s right.

8. If You Bring Notes, Use Paper

I am still scarred from watching a speaker read a speech from a Blackberry.

9. Use Visual Tools as Your Sidekicks

When using video or slides, don’t depend on them. You are the star and they are your supporting actors.

10. Start With a Smile

Disarm the audience with your smile and when appropriate, smile with frequency during your talk as well.

11. Look Up

Pick a few engaged members of the audience, one on the right, one in the center and one on the left and make fluid eye contact with each consistently. This will keep your head up and your presence felt.

12. Slow Down

Fight the common urge to rush through your speech. It is almost impossible to speak too slowly. Assume that the audience is listening and they don’t want to miss a word.

13. Don’t Cater to the Sleeper

If there is an audience member with his eyes closed, it is because he had too little sleep the night before, not because you sent him to slumber.

14. Jump Around

This is extreme – but better to be air born than standing stiff as a board. To be natural, you need to move a bit. Look at this Gary Vaynerchuk speech for inspiration.

15. Sail Through Rough Waters

If you “mess up” chances are, nobody has noticed but you, so move forward without missing a beat.

16. If You’re Not Funny, Don’t Tell Jokes

Humor is about delivery as much as the joke. If you aren’t a funny person, avoid going for the cheap laugh.

17. Keep it Short

As with anything, better to leave them wanting more. As long as a 40 minute speech isn’t given in 20, brevity within reason is always appreciated.

18. Remain Upbeat

Even when talking heavy, keep it upbeat. Jennifer Gilbert’s harrowing story is a great example — it is embedded in laughter and optimism.

19. Own Your Energy

Bring your off the charts enthusiasm regardless of the crowd. A band plays the same song whether there is one person in the room or 1000.

20. Don’t Run Away

After you speak, make yourself accessible to the audience – for Q&A or photos.

21. Stay in Costume

When you receive a complement on your performance, graciously say thank you. Period. No mention of your bundle of nerves or having left your notes at Starbucks. Remain the performer.

Samantha Ettus is Founder of Working Moms Lifestyle, a bestselling author, media personality and speaker. Connect with her on Twitter@samanthaettus.

To read this article on Forbes, please click here.

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author & corporate speaker. The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction will be released in September.