I don’t know about you, but I do not like public speaking.  Last week I had to give two group presentations in my public relations courses. Thankfully it’s over now, but I did learn a few things to help me conquer my public speaking shakes. 

Here are a some helpful hints to get you through your next speech.

1. Above all do not panic. If you can just pretend like you’re speaking one-on-one to someone in the audience then you will calm your nerves. Knowing who your audience is can help you to speak in a familiar way that will come across as cool and confident. It’s important to reassure yourself that you are indeed an expert on your topic, probably more than anyone else in the room is.

2. Research, research, research. Back all of your arguments up with research so that your audience has no choice but to understand what you’re saying. Knowing more than you are presenting helps you to feel at ease. You can also tackle any questions that may come your way during the presentation. Remember to document your sources so that you can explain where you got your research.

3. Make sure your slides are simple. Prepare your slides in a way that is consistent and simple. Keep your bullet points as aids to your speech. They should be no longer than 10 words per sentence. These points are just to help you along your way; they are not meant to be your entire speech.

4. A picture is worth a thousand words. Use visuals to help get your point across. Visuals are a great way to support your points. Don’t  crowd your slide with too many pictures.

5. Make your slides readable. If you and your audience can read what is on your slide, chances are your presentation will go a lot smoother and you can relax. Try not to use below 30 to 32 point font. Also, keep in mind your audience’s eye-line and don’t write on the bottom of the slide.

6. Sound effects are a turn off. Don’t overwhelm the audience with lots of animation or sounds. Most people probably find a sound effect for each bullet point annoying. It can also distract from what you are trying to say.

7. Try to calm down. To relax while up there just remember that in a few minutes it will all be over. Try talking to the wall or focusing on one friendly face in the room.

8. Practice makes perfect. Rehearse, but don’t sound like you’re memorizing a script. If you really know what you’re talking about then, don’t sweat it, breathe and talk. Talk like you’re on the phone with your mom. It’s better to go short than over time.

9. Slide design is important. Be sure to choose colors that are simple and make it easy to read. Dark font on a light background or light font on a dark background, just remember blue and white are not easy to read from a distance. If you’re using a picture make sure that the image and the words do not overlap.

10. Keep your eyes on the prize! Imagine success. If you’re confident people are more likely to buy what you’re selling.

I hope that these tips help you with your presentations. I know that just spending a few minutes in front of the room before you speak can help calm my nerves. It’s all about making yourself comfortable in your environment.

This information was based on a class taught by Pat Curtin.