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This article is for the business person, college student, or anyone else who has to speak publicly. Nearly everyone, at some point in their life, will need to stand before an audience. This article will help you do just that.

1. How can I relax while giving a speech?

· One great tip is to take very deep breaths just prior to taking your place at the podium. This relaxes your body, helping your blood pressure to lower and your mind to clear.
· Another trick is to pretend that you are all alone in front of a mirror.
· Nothing can beat being prepared for your speech. The more comfortable you are with your speech, the better that you will do.


2. What is the best way to prepare for my speech?

· Try practicing the speech in front of friends and family first, before the "actual" speech.
· Make sure that your note cards are very easy to read. (The large note cards are the best choice. You can even get colored cards now in any office supply store.)
· Use colored markers to highlight the main points of your speech.
· Be familiar with the room or auditorium in which you will be presenting your speech.

3. What is the best way to practice for a speech?

· I mentioned it above. A mirror can be very useful. Say your speech into the mirror, noticing what each hand and face is doing at all times.
· Practice the words in your head over and over again.
· Pretend that you are there, in front of the audience.
· I also mentioned practicing before other people. This is good, but if you are alone, the mirror or even your dog can be a great idea.

4. Should I take a class on public speaking?

· If you are in a field where public speaking is required, you might want to consider taking a class in effective speaking at your local college. Many times there are night courses that can really help a speaker to relax at the podium.
· These classes are usually small, allowing all of the students to develop a relationship. This helps to relax everyone, which makes for a very nice atmosphere to share, communicate, and learn.

5. What can I do if I lose my place and get all flustered?

· The best advice is to be prepared, but even the most prepared person sometimes loses his or her place.
· If this happens, glance down at your cards. Look for the bright color of the next topic, and move on.
· Take a deep breath and smile. Your audience is probably completely unaware of the problem.
· Adlibbing can be both helpful and also very dangerous when giving a speech. If your speech is timed, this may become a problem. Adlibbing can help to get your out of a sticky situation, though.
· Quickly get to the next main point if you lose your place as smoothly as you can.

6. I seem to shake all over before a speech. What can I do to help this?

· Try not to drink a lot of caffeine prior to any public speaking engagement. Opt for juice or water instead of pop or coffee.
· Keep your mind off your speech. This will calm your nerves.

7. If I get easily flustered, which is best: should I be the first person to speak or the last?

· Many successful public speakers would rather be first, but of course this is for everyone.
· If you get nervous THINKING about the speech more than performing it, then you should go first.
· If you easily lose your place or become overly nervous, you should maybe go toward the middle.
· If you are very comfortable with your speech, then you can do it last. Remember, if you do it last you will be the final, lasting image that your audience sees. Make it a good one.

8. I am too nervous to have good eye contact. What can I do to help?

· Find a person near the middle of the crowd which you know or have a friendly relationship. Look at this person, but be sure to also look around to the other ends of the room.
· When you look in other places, though, you can maybe look just above them. This may help. Later, you will be more comfortable with this, and learn to look into their eyes.

9. My gestures look forced, should I leave my hands at my side? This makes me even more nervous. How can I have relaxed gestures?

· Speak to the crowd in a conversational tone. This can take practice, but helps immensely with your gestures.
· Try to NOT think about your hands.
· If you play with buttons or put your hands in your pockets, try to NOT wear clothes with pockets or buttons. Putting your hands in your pockets is a big distraction to your listeners that you should avoid at all costs!
· If none of these works, try keeping your hands at your side, and pinching your index finger and thumb together tightly. This should help to remind you not to pick at your clothes.

10. What do I do if I drop my cards?

· Pick them up. Ok, sorry. We authors do have a sense of humor sometimes.
· After you pick them up, go to the appropriate card.
· If you number your cards in the top left corner and circle the number, this is very easy to do.
· If you do not remember the number you were on, then go to the COLORED topic you were at.
· This is one of the reasons that using colors and numbers help.
· Another trick is to use your mind to make a map of your speech.

a. What I mean by this is that you simply have a maze drawn out in your head of all the main topics.
b. Do this by visualizing your story like a movie or story. You can even see yourself doing the speech in the mirror, and then replay it in your mind several times. This helps!

In reading this article, I certainly hope that you are much more comfortable when you speak in public. The next time that you have the opportunity to give a speech, you will be armed with the knowledge that you need to give a good presentation. A speech that will flow off of the tongue, and not make your hands shake. Now, go write that speech!