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7 Critical Public Speaking Tips (Source: Interview with Bill Murphy Jr. on Inc.com)


1. Be yourself.

Be yourself, be authentic, and share vulnerably onstage. A lot of people go into speaking trying to emulate someone else. But there's only one Les Brown. There's only one Tony Robbins. There's only one Wayne Dyer. Be yourself. Be authentic.


2. Study the greats.

Don't copy them; you won't do what they do as well as they do. But do watch and take lessons. As you observe them, take notes. Do not trying to emulate, but take notice of the little things, the meticulous things, the pauses, the body language. Even the catchy phrases. The "phrase that pays," or the callback and repetition technique, is something that you should consider utilizing for a more memorable speech.


3. Tell a story.

Everything is a story if it's told well. And we respond to stories. We don't respond as well to lectures and prescriptions. When you can paint a picture for someone, they'll be able to visualize it, and they'll be able to connect with you more. Instead of saying something like, 'The dog was red,' you can say, 'That little energetic pup was the color of merlot.' As you write your speech, show, don't tell. When you do tell, tell it well.


4. Practice, practice, practice.

This goes two ways: Practice speaking in general, and practice your particular speech. The night before the International Speech Contest in Chicago back in 2018, I was pacing the halls of the Marriott Marquis at 4 a.m., looking crazy in my pajamas. I was up at 4 in the morning, practicing for hours and hours and hours and hours. Until I had that moment of utter disgust. Yes. Until I am saturated with irritation from speaking the sake words over and over, I keep rehearsing. Don't stop practicing until you can recite the speech effortlessly.


5. Get feedback.

Some of us think we walk on water; others are our own worst critics. But what none of us has is the perspective of what it's like to watch and listen to ourselves. At Toastmasters, you're assigned an evaluator. Every time you give a prepared speech at Toastmasters, it's evaluated. Get feedback from your co-workers, family, friends, or a speaking coach. This will help you eliminate filler words, stay on time, and test your humor.


6. Control your visuals.

Never bring anything onstage that unintentionally distracts from your message. Put time and effort into your appearance so your audience will naturally focus your message--not the coffee stain on your tie, or the cleavage peeking through your blouse.


If you have on a shirt with someone's face, they're probably going to be staring at the face.

In other words: Live or die on your speech itself, not on distractions.


7. Control your voice

Similar in a way to controlling your appearance: Control your voice. Ensure that you don't distract, but also vary your vocal delivery. Please don't do Ben Stein. I love Ben Stein. I love him. But have some vocal variety. Go up, go down. Go loud, go quiet. Go really, really, really fast. Then slow down. Have that vocal variety to keep the audience's attention."


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