Public speaking tips for keeping your poise in front of your peers

Speaking in public is regarded as one of the most daunting, scary things to do, but can also be one of the most rewarding moments even for first-timers. Oddly enough it can be harder talking in front of your peers than a bunch of total strangers.

Find your center
Before you go on take some deep breaths and transport your mind to a peaceful place. It isn’t always possible, but slipping out to regroup before it’s you time to talk can help calm the jangling nerves. If you are at Intundla, near Pretoria in the Denokeng big 5 reserve, the gentle bush sounds and scents will fill your senses and act as a soothing balm to the nervous tensions.

When you go on, have the confidence that you are prepared
Never doubt your preparedness, it’s too late anyway. You don’t need to have remembered the talk word for word and besides regurgitating it parrot fashion will kill the delivery. If you wrote it, trust that you know the content and allow the talk to flow.

Don’t let your eye contact lock
It is important to make eye contact and not to get stuck at a single point, especially a single person. Pretend you are short-sighted and let your gaze move slowly over the faces without pausing for too long. If you need to make contact pick the friendly faces, nod when you make a point and they will generally respond, boosting your confidence.

Don’t labour the points
A great speech needs only 20 to 30 minutes to be impactful, any longer and you will begin to lose the audience's concentration and your nerve. Consider that most Ted Talks are over before 20 minutes is up.
While on the topic - Ted Talks can also be a great source of reference for your talk, otherwise just Google it for ideas – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for content for your talk.

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