By Ashlyn R. Thomas, Staff Writer

You don’t need the gift of gab to give a great speech. You don’t even need to be diagnosed with Glossophobia (i.e. the fear of public speaking) to give an empowering talk. The best speeches are given by those who are comfortable, confident, and empowered by the message they give. Studies show that public speaking is the top fear for many individuals. Since, we live in a world where we are overwhelmed with content,  we must be able to communicate information in a way that is accessible to others. Give yourself a boost of confidence and overcome any fear of talking by following these five steps:

1. Be Prepared

Preparing for your audience is a sign of respect; it shows you care. Not surprisingly, preparation means practice, practice, practice. To be a good speaker, first prepare through research, collecting together several points to discuss. Figure out the most important points of your message and order them on your outline. After researching the topic, create an outline. Going off of an outline is better than reading a speech composed sentence-by-sentence. This is simply because most ill-prepared presentations lend themselves to becoming read from the page which does not engage the audience. You want your audience to focus on what you are saying.

2. Connect with your audience 

To connect with your audience, you have to know how to grab their attention. Speaking on topics you are passionate about makes it easier for your audience to relate to you because they see you’re interested. To engage your audience, don’t use a PowerPoint presentation because it is distracting for both you and your audience. Involve the audience by asking them questions and be prepared for their questions in return. If you make your point, and make it well, within a short amount of time, you will connect successfully with your audience. Once you hold their attention, you have found the key to a successful and powerful speech.

3. Stay on point

Provide relevant information and use personal experiences to support your points. Even provide a little clean humor, to glean a chuckle out of the audience. If you use humor, just be sure to use it at the right time. Speak clearly and practice your points in the shower, on a walk, or while making dinner. This method allows you to be more comfortable and authentic with your speech. Don’t rehearse in front of a mirror because it can become distracting.

4. Ask for advice

When asking for advice, remember three simple things: positivity, specificity, and objectivity. Be positive when you are met by constructive criticism. Ask for specific examples where you can improve on in your performance. Also ask about the parts you did well on. It’s important to balance all critiques with positive feedback. However, learn to be objective. It’s really hard when you’re emotionally invested, but critical feedback promotes healthy growth for you and your speech. You deserve to give your best and be your best.

5. Don’t worry

Having anxiety over what you think your audience is thinking breaks down your confidence. Your audience is there to hear what you think. They want to know what you are passionate about. They also want to know what you have to share. That common adage—believe in yourself—could never be truer. Only you can help yourself overcome anxiety. You can’t control what your audience will think, but you can control what you say and how you say it.  

Public speaking is an art. These skills are an essential part to advancing and achieving success in any career.  I’ve given my fair share of good and bad speeches. When I gave a talk to high school students, I finally realized the method to giving a successful speech. What you put into it, is what you’ll pull out of it. Meaning, the amount of time and effort you put in working on your speech will be the end result of your efforts. Giving a great speech takes time, but with these five tips, you’re already halfway down the road to success!