When it is finally time to deliver the speech, you should make sure that you arrive at the venue early—especially if you haven’t been there before. Take some time to scope out the area around you, including where people will sit and where you will be presenting. Take the opportunity to setup your laptop and/or projector if you need to. And try to do all of this stuff well in advance of the time you deliver. If you don’t do this in advance, and you find yourself confused or in the wrong place as a result, the pressure will build, which is the exact opposite of what you need before a big presentation. Instead, you want to arrive well in advance of the presentation, and you want the ability to check out the venue, get comfortable, and play out the scenario in your mind in a low-pressure situation because you ever have to speak a word to anyone else.
Don’t Dwell on Mistakes
One problem that many new speakers make is that they tend to dwell on mistakes. They might stutter or say words in the wrong order because they are nervous. And, instead of simply correcting themselves or moving on, they dwell on the error, apologize for it, and possibly even make fun of themselves using some self-effacing humor. While this may be okay for 1 or 2 mistakes, it really isn’t necessary and doesn’t add much to the presentation. To see why this is the case, just consider mistakes that you see in everyday conversation or on television. If it is clear from the context what the person meant, you won’t care whether or not the person painstakingly tries to correct what they said the first time. Instead, you would rather they move forward with the story. The same is true in any public speaking scenario. If what you said was unintelligible because of the mistake, then correct it briefly and without apology. But if what you said was clearly understood by the audience, don’t dwell on it. Instead, keep moving with the speech.
Before you get up on stage to do your big speech or presentation, people will tell you to stay calm and that you’ll do great. Of course, if you haven’t done a lot of public speaking before, this advice probably seems insane. How could you possibly stay calm, you might wonder. So you ignore this as nicety and then get on stage to deliver your speech. A few minutes in, your heart is racing and you’re
stuttering. Now, in all fairness, even with this bit advice to “stay calm,” it is hard to know exactly what you should do to make it happen. What I will say, however, is that it is absolutely essential that you do stay calm and that you don’t panic. And here is how I suggest you do it:
i. Be prepared. I cannot stress this enough. If you prepare for your speech and you go through it with your family and friends, there’s really nothing to worry about. You’ll know the content of your speech so well that reciting in front of a group of strangers won’t be a big deal. On the other hand, if this is the first time you’ve ever said it in front of anyone else (or even recited it on your own), you’re more likely to get lost, to freeze, and then become nervous.
ii. Be at peace with pauses. If you’re sitting in the audience, it really isn’t a huge deal to you if the speaker pauses for 3-5 seconds to find her place on some speech notes. If it happens a lot, it might be annoying, but if it happens 2-3 times in the speech, it really isn’t a big deal. In fact, it is less distracting than if the speaker panics and repeatedly apologizes. So, either don’t apologize at all, or, at most, say something like “I’m sorry. Just give me a couple of seconds to find my place.”
iii. Use notes and/or a visual aid. If you’re delivering a eulogy or a wedding speech, a visual aid may be out of the picture. However, in many other scenarios, it will be a good option. Having a PowerPoint presentation or some other form of visual aid can go a long way in jogging your memory about what you’re supposed to say next. On the other hand, if you cannot use a visual aid, you should either write your speech out in full or jot down a notes on either a piece of paper or some notecards. If worse comes to worst, and you lose your place, you can scan the speech quickly and figure out where you’resupposed to be. This will be much better than stuttering, blushing, apologizing, and looking confused to the audience.
iv. Visualize everything in your head before you deliver the speech. Studies have shown that people who prepare for events ahead of time by visualizing the possible outcomes and how they will respond to them often do much better when the event arises. This is definitely true for public speaking. Envision how things might go well and how they might go poorly. Picture yourself responding to each scenario, so that you are prepared for anything.
To summarize—remaining calm is important. And the best way to do that is to be so prepared that the event truly does not seem like a big deal. You’ll know yourlines, and if something goes wrong, you’ll know how to cope with that, too. Being prepared is the easiest way to ensure that things go well and you don’t lose your cool.
Deviate from the Notes if Needed, But Not Too Far
Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should deviate from your notes or written speech if you have to. It may seem like a bad idea at first, but if the situation calls for it, skip a slide, change to a new topic, or jump ahead. Flexibility may be difficult to come by if you haven’t spoke in public multiple times, but if you allow for it, it can definitely improve your speech. With that said, you should definitely try to keep the deviations small and infrequent. For instance, skipping ahead to make sure you complete the presentation in time is good. But allowing a single question to derail your presentation for upwards of 10 to 15 minutes is a bad idea. Use your judgment when deciding which deviations are good and are likely to contribute positively to the speech; and which ones are going to be a time-sink with little reward.
Don’t Get Intimidated by Questions
If you’re giving a speech to coworkers, to your boss, to a seminar audience, or to an academic audience, you will probably have to field questions—and many of them. Some may seem mean-spirited, difficult, or designed to make you look bad and discredit everything you’ve said. And that is only to be expected. So expect this in advance. Expect the questions to be tough and tricky. And take them in stride. Listen to the audience member carefully, make sure you understand the question correctly, and then respond without losing your cool. If you have to, you can always say that you didn’t understand the question (and, thus, need the audience member to repeat it) or you can tell the audience member that you disagree, but will talk to her more about it later. Whatever you do, don’t lose your cool. You will always look better to the vast majority of the audience if you don’t get into petty struggles with individual members of the audience. You will also look better if you don’t appear visibly frazzled or insulted by a question. So try to maintain your composure—and then either answer the question or deflect it cleverly.
Source of Information : Public Speaking Exposed