Speaking in public is most people s least favorite thing. the reason is
that we re all afraid of making fools of ourselves. The more important the
speech, the more frightened we become.
But stop biting your finger-nails. Public speaking is easy. It s just plain
talking, and you talk all the time. Although I m basically shy(honest!), I ve
been making speeches and talking on radio and television for more than 30 years,
and I can tell you that public speaking is not a “gift” like musical talent or
being able to draw. Anybody who can talk can speak in public. Here are some of
the lessons I have learned:
Keep it simple.
Your audience2 is going to come away with one or two of your main ideas.
One or two. Not ten or 20. If you can t express in a sentence or two what you
intend to get across3, then your speech is not focused well enough. And if you
don t have a clear idea of what you want to say, there s no way your audience
No matter how long or short your speech, you ve got to get your ducks in a
row—how you re going to open, what major points you want to make and how you re
going to close.
When I do a radio or TV piece, I often write the last sentence first. When
you know where you re headed, you can choose any route to get there. A strong
close is critical4: the last thing you say is what your audience will most
Keep it short.
the standard length of a vaudeville5 act was 12 minutes. If all those
troupers6 singing and dancing their hearts out couldn t go on longer without
boring the audience, what makes you think you can?