Ahh, the joys of public speaking. Does anyone really enjoy it?

Glossophobia, or a fear of public speaking, is believed to affect up to 75% of the population. And rightly so. Believe it or not, a fear of public speaking is actually woven into our DNA.

But the benefits of public speaking far outweigh the cons. With the right amount of confidence and charisma, mastering the art of public speaking will set job seekers up for professional success.

If you’re one of the average people who ranks their fear of public speaking above death, follow these tips to master the art of public speaking and nail your next speaking event.

Related: How to master difficult conversations at work

Know your topic inside and out

It all starts with owning your content. Do you have a true understanding of your material? Knowing it inside out will not only allow you to give the most authentic performance possible but most importantly, it will give you the ability to speak with confidence. Do as much planning and research as you can until you feel 100% confident on the topic. If you’re passionate about something, your natural response will be to speak about it in an engaging way.

Practice makes perfect

An unprepared presentation will leave the audience confused and unengaged. The topic might be captivating, but if it doesn’t flow, people will tune out. Try writing your speech out from start to finish. Then, write it out on queue cards and practice it in front of the mirror, or your friends and family. Now, try practising it with distractions. Being prepared for anything and everything (technical difficulties, anyone?) will set you up to sail through any hiccups on the day.

Put yourself in the audience’s shoes

Getting on your audience’s good side is the key to public speaking. It’s a way of earning their respect and making it easier for them to understand you. Cheeky or impertinent remarks rarely go down well, nor do inside jokes. Try to avoid alienating people as much as possible by putting yourself in their shoes and considering some political correctness. Learn to read their cues, and adjust accordingly. Did they laugh at that risque joke? If not, keep it light and to the point. You should also try to communicate your point as clearly as possible, without any tangents. Too often the audience hears one thing while the speaker meant something else entirely.

Act confident and no-one will question you

Never has there been a more fitting scenario for the old adage, ‘fake it ’till you make it’. Think of someone you know who can command a room with ease. How do they stand? What is it about their speaking style that oozes confidence? Most importantly, how do they act? By taking on the persona of someone with confidence, it’s surprising how much this can improve our own confidence.

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