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Going to the Public - Ten public speaking tips

By Al Czarnecki

Know your key publics and objectives.
Time is a limited resource. Know whether this opportunity represents value for both you and your audience.

Know you audience.
Talk with two or three people to get a feeling for what matters to THIS audience—their issues, values, level of knowledge.

Sketch you talk.
How will you engage your audience? How will you move across salient points? What is the one message people will come away with?

Find good sources.
Prepare rich background notes and save as short text files. Create a table with columns for filename, author, date source, keyword, and a short summary. This will save tons of work if you later want to post this on an intranet.

Build sound bites.
Write. Be articulate in less than 100 words (40-60 is best) on every point you want to make. You’ll need a core message, supported by clear major points, each supported by relevant details. Your first 20 words are critical.

A ten minute talk is 1600-1800 words. Tape yourself. See what you haven’t said. See what can be trimmed. Edit your written text. Recast your outline. Tape again. This is to clarify and focus your thinking.

Speak, don’t read.
You don’t prepare a talk, you prepare YOURSELF for a talk. The spoken word reveals presence, energy, interest, conviction; these are lost on paper. An outline will keep you on track.

Bring a handout.
In formal situations, a copy of your speech is expected. The media will follow a prepared text and note and departure in content. Speak, but realize you’re going on record.

Watch for feedback.
A live audience means real-time feedback. When their attention is rapt, you audience will resemble a still photograph of freeze-frame video. This is what public speaking is all about.

Frequently Asked Questions—a key part of any public speaking engagement in the question and answer period. Collect questions like hockey cards. Prepare credible, informative, 40-60 word answers for them.

Al Czarnecki is an accredited public relations professional with 30 years experience. You can find tips and resources on public relations and social marketing at his website:

See also:
7 Tips for Effective Speeches
Review of Your Guide to Public Speaking
Secrets of a Worthwhile Presentation
Don't Neglect Your Presentation Skills
Seven golden rules for more effective speaking
The HotLink Resource Shelf: Going for Gold!
Smooth Talking! Explore the Paid Speaking Market
Speaking to the Media