1. How long are you expected to speak?
If this hasn’t been made clear to you, ask. You cannot prepare an open ended talk and expect to be comfortable. In this situation neither you nor your audience have a path to follow during your talk.
2. What is the point I want to make with this speech?
Think about all the areas of information you could cover, then break that down into points. Sort these points into a logical order of development i.e. start with information your audience may already know, introduce new or develop existing information and finish with a summary.
3. Who and what is this speech for?
You will need to consider the topic of your talk, the occasion you are presenting it and the audience. Sometimes we feel that a formal and structured presentation is appropriate as it will help with nerves – mostly it accentuates them to those who are listening particularly when it is not a reflection of the topic, the occasion or how well the audience know you.
Just like an expert in any field, to be good at talking in public you need to practice. Some of us have skills that can be fine tuned and others avoid any opportunity to talk in public as we believe we “just can’t do it”.
Practice doesn’t have to be for a particular occasion. If you spend a bit of time in the car or on public transport, let a practice talk run through your head. You will find you get much better at putting your thoughts into a logical sequence if you are doing it every day – just like tying your shoelaces.
In a separate post I will talk about how to get your thoughts on paper (virtual or physical) so that you can really start practising!