How To Prepare for Public Speaking and Different Types of Events

By Indeed Editorial Team

May 6, 2022

At some point in your career, you'll likely need to deliver a speech or presentation. Depending on the public-speaking engagement, you can use several strategies to deliver a compelling presentation that keeps the audience engaged. Preparing for a speech or presentation is an important step that can make you feel more confident in your delivery. In this article, we discuss the types of public-speaking events and how to prepare for public speaking.

Types of public-speaking events

Learning about the different types of public-speaking events helps you determine how to prepare for your engagement. Here are a few common types of public-speaking events:

Seminars

A seminar is a lecture to a large audience and is usually what you think of when you hear "public speaking." Many organizations offer seminars to train a group of professionals on a specific topic. For example, a real-estate business could offer a seminar on effective ways to stage a home. Many seminars are accompanied by slideshows or other visual presentations.

Conferences

Conferences are gatherings where speakers present to an audience. For example, a technology company could host a conference about recent innovations in the industry. Most conferences often have multiple speakers presenting in different areas of the conference. You can expect a full lineup of speakers over the length of the conference.

Usually, your audience is made up of people who have come to hear you and your panel speak on a particular topic. Your panel consists of people presenting on something related to your topic. At the end of the presentations, there will most likely be a question-and-answer portion with the audience. Audience members ask questions to you or the whole group about the topics discussed during the panel.

Virtual events

Along with telecommunication, virtual speaking events are becoming more common. In this setting, you will present from your computer rather than standing in front of an audience. However, this does still mean you will have many people listening and watching you. You should present in a professional location and dress accordingly. Well-functioning technology is especially important for this type of event.

Award ceremonies

Award ceremonies are moments of celebration and accomplishment. At an award ceremony, you might be receiving or giving an award. These events are more formal. If you think or know you're receiving an award, make sure to have your speech prepared and practiced. Keep the speech on the shorter end, and maintain a humble presence.

Special occasions

Retirement parties or going away gatherings are special occasions that often include a short speech from a close colleague or manager. Usually, speeches during these events are informal and short.

How to prepare for a public-speaking event

Follow these steps to prepare for your public-speaking event:

1. Know your audience

Knowing your audience helps you figure out how to adjust your speech and your presentation. Considering your audience aids your decision in what kind of language you use, how long your speech is and what topics are appropriate. Make sure the experience is enjoyable and the information you provide is useful to your specific audience.

2. Familiarize yourself with the environment

Try to visualize your surroundings and how the event will look like the day of. Try to get as much information as possible about where you will be presenting. Check to see if you'll be on stage and if you'll have a podium or microphone.

Be aware of how you will need to get to the location, especially if it is a larger event. Consider spaces such as backstage or different entrances you might need to use as a speaker. Prepare materials and supplies beforehand, such as water, your computer, a notebook and a pen.

3. Outline the main points

Outlining the main points of your speech makes your presentation focused and organized. Try to use these main points as the foundation of your speech.

Consider outlining your speech with keywords. Keywords are beneficial because they are easy to remember and work well with an outline. You can easily glance at your notes and see specific keywords that help you stay focused.

Related: 12 Common Presentation Styles Used in the Workplace

4. Have someone review your speech

Once you have written down your speech, give it to a trusted friend or coworker to read. Getting another perspective can help you identify areas of improvement. Ask them to make notes or changes to help with the flow and content.

5. Practice on your own

Find out how much time you have for your speech. When practicing, make sure to time yourself from start to finish, and read the entire speech several times. For the first few times, feel free to use notecards or a script, but once you get comfortable, try only using these resources when you forget a line. This can help you make more eye contact with your audience, which helps engage them.

6. Incorporate your hands

Using hand gestures to explain points in your speech can be useful. Not only will you better engage with the audience, but using hand gestures can help you remember moments. For example, if you are explaining audiobooks, you might point to your ears. This link between word and movement can help you remember what to say.

7. Use a mirror

While practicing on your own, say your speech in front of a mirror. This will allow you to see how you will appear to the audience. You can also more easily integrate hand gestures and facial expressions when you can see what they look like.

8. Record yourself practicing

Recording video is as easy as opening an application on your phone. Take advantage of this technology, and record your entire speech while you practice. Once you finish, you can look over your recording and analyze your performance. Think about what you did well and what parts you can practice again.

9. Rehearse in front of someone

The best way to get comfortable with giving speeches is by giving them to a smaller audience, even if it is just one other person. Getting used to someone listening and watching you as you speak will help you feel comfortable. At the end of your speech, invite your audience to give feedback on your performance.

10. Make use of the stage

Make use of the stage, especially if you are presenting in front of a large audience. Use the space to your advantage by walking slowly throughout the presentation. Slight movements will engage your audience because their eyes naturally follow you. Changing your position will also allow other sections of the audience to see you better.

11. Anticipate questions and prepare answers

Most likely, a few audience members will have questions regarding your speech. Think of some items you might receive. Then write down answers to them and practice saying them out loud. Although your speech ends with your final point, your presentation continues with answering questions, so you want to be prepared for this portion as well.

12. Prepare your technology

Consider what technology you might be using for your speech, such as a computer or projector. Think of any digital material you need, such as a slideshow or images. Make sure you have these items readily available, updated and saved for easy access. You can save those files on your desktop to find them quickly. You want to make sure all your technology is working properly so you can seamlessly transition through your presentation.

13. Set a practice limit

Practicing is extremely beneficial because it allows you to get comfortable with explaining your information out loud. However, over-practicing or memorizing your speech could make you sound disengaged or robotic. Practice enough to feel comfortable enough to only rely on notecards or a short outline when you need them.

Related: How to Overcome a Fear of Public Speaking

Tips for improving your public-speaking abilities

These tips can help you improve your public-speaking skills:

Volunteer to be a spokesperson for a club or organization

Many organizations have a communication chair or public relations position. Consider volunteering for some of these positions for additional practice.

Watch speeches online

There are many videos online of people speaking in front of all sizes of audiences. Watch these speakers and consider what you liked and did not like about their presentations. Try to emulate the people that you enjoyed and found did well.

Attend live events

There are many events in which people speak in front of a crowd, like spoken word or theater. Although they might not be entirely the same as what you might do, they often use the same skills. Think of how they capture the audience's attention, how slow they speak and how well they annunciate. Feel free to take notes while at these events.

Read more: Tips for Improving Your Public-Speaking Skills

Interview someone you know

If you know someone skilled at public speaking, they might be willing to meet with you. Invite them out for a coffee or even ask for a quick phone call to discuss their tips and strategies for speaking at a public event.

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