For most people, having a public speaking engagement is a rare lifetime event. It doesn’t happen everyday, every week, or every month. It happens rarely, sometimes never. So when given a change for a public speaking engagement, you should do your best. You’ll never know when you’ll have the same chance again.
Make this rare chance extraordinary by preparing. Rare or not, preparation is the only key to a successful public speaking engagement:
Familiarize don’t memorize. Most people memorize their speech, thinking that by doing so, they’ll have confidence speaking in front of a large audience. Well the truth is, memorizing is one of the worst you can do to prepare for a public speaking engagement. Instead of memorizing your speech word per word, you should familiarize yourself with your speech and keep it in your heart.
The best speeches are not actually those that were perfectly memorized but those which came from the speaker’s heart. If you’re afraid you’ll get lost with the overwhelming number of people. Better have a note. Don’t look on your note every second but only do that if you feel you are losing your track.
Rehearse. After familiarizing your speech, you should rehearse your piece in front of a mirror or in front some friends. It will help to video record your rehearsal. Assess how you do your speech—watch out for your words and mannerisms. You can speak fluently by speaking slowly. Avoid mannerisms as well because these are destructing for the audience. Don’t be too conscious of your mannerisms, though. Just keep on practicing until you can control your mannerisms while you are focused on your speech.
Plan what to wear. What is the public speaking engagement for? You should dress appropriately or the audience will judge you on what you wear. Remember, first impression lasts. Don’t let a wrong outfit establish your first impression. Dress well, but not too much for the event. For instance, if you will speak in front of less fortunate people of the society, you should dress their common code. You don’t want to intimidate them. You should be one of them, at least with the way you dress.
Be early. Never come late for the speaking engagement. The earlier you come, the more time you have to be calm before your speech. You will also earn respect by being punctual.
Stay calm. What makes you calm—a glass of water, deep breathing, soothing music, or jokes? Even wearing a talisman can help you stay calm. It may not be really effective in giving you luck but at least it can make you feel like you can finish the speech without obvious mistakes.
Practice what to do when you make mistakes. Think of what ifs—what if you pronounced words incorrectly, what if you chose the wrong words, what if your suit is ruined? Think of the worst thing that could happen while you are speaking and make sure you have solutions to these. Only through your alternatives that you can be confident nothing worse will happen because after all, you already have the solutions.
Don’t let being your unprepared ruin your public speaking engagement. The success of this event is in your hands now. As long as you have some days to prepare, you can still make your public speaking the best ever.