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May 11, 2016

Public speaking is difficult. The earlier we acknowledge that, the earlier we can begin mastering the tools to steady our nerves and deliver quality talks and presentations. Here are seven public speaking tips for beginners that will help ease the initial butterflies. (It gets better, I promise!).

Get Used To Freestyling
Never script a speech or a presentation. Instead, outline your points and use them to give your talk. Not only does a scripted speech sound forced, but it opens you up for mistakes. If you miss one sentence, then your whole flow will be disturbed, and you'll lose your spot. If you feel compelled to write out your presentation, do so—but only as an additional form of practice.

It's Just Another Day
Make the presentation part of your routine. Don't give it more attention than it requires. On "talk days," go about your normal schedule and treat it like any other work day. Following the same routine will allow you to get into the zone prior to any speaking engagement.

You're just taking care of business, and you handle your business every day.

Learn The Room
If you can, shortly before your talk, go to the site of your presentation. Get familiar with it, walk around the room. Get on stage and explore every nook and cranny. The idea is to get comfortable with your canvas BEFORE you present. It will help you avoid surprises.

Expect The Worst
A great piece of advice from Ryan Holiday on Thought Catalog is to imagine the worst-case scenario. "In your mind, envision the projector not working, the crowd being distracted, your message going over their heads." The key is to keep your presentation going and not get caught off guard when the unexpected (invariably) happens.

The Audience Is Not The Enemy
Don't let the crowd make you nervous. No one is coming to a talk to boo you or to harass you. They showed up to learn something interesting and connect with like-minded people, so they want to see you succeed.

The Power Of Storytelling

We could say Waze has 50 million passionate users around the world. But it's not as strong as talking about how Waze helped deliver gas during Hurricane Sandy (check out this article on Gigaom), or how, as you can see on Digital Trends, Waze is working with cities around the world to better the flow of information and traffic. People may remember facts and numbers, but they'll definitely remember stories and the emotions associated with them.

Own It
Ultimately, the key to giving a good talk is to know your material. You should walk into a presentation knowing what two or three points you want your audience to take away. Public speaking isn't easy, but the earlier we start working on it, the sooner we get better at it.

The most effective formula for becoming better is to practice, but, hopefully, these public speaking tips will help you, too.
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