Twelve Pro Tips on Public Speaking

05/17/2012 12:09 EDT | Updated 07/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Looking for new customers or clients? One way to showcase your business and expertise is to offer seminars or workshops. Now, public speaking can be a scary thought to many, so here are some tips to get you started.

1. In planning your presentation, you need to think about the key messages you want to get across to the audience. Select no more than three; any more and you could lose their interest, plus you have to remember it all too!

2. Include information that will be helpful to the audience; when they leave they will feel the time they spent with you was worthwhile, and they can use, for example, some of tips straight away.

3. Avoid jargon and use different techniques to hold their interest. People's attention span is very short and after 45 minutes, they need to move and take a break.

4. Telling stories is a great way to illustrate a point. It is easier for them to remember what you said instead of a list of facts.

5. People learn differently. Some are fine with the lecture, but others are more visual or want more interaction.

6. Adults are often hands-on learners, so if you can introduce a few exercises that they can do, they are likely to participate more eagerly. Splitting people up into pairs helps shake it up too, so the pressure is not on you to perform the whole time, and they get to know someone else.

7. Just a word about power point presentations -- if you must use them, keep it short. There is nothing worse than looking at a list of words on the screen and then the presenter just reading them out to you. We can all read -- this is a boring use of time. Instead, use visuals.

8. When I present I use photographs, not words. I always joke that it is because I am a visual learner, but truth is I am also post-menopausal and my memory is not what it used to be. I use the slides as my prompter as I don't have notes with me.

9. And speaking of notes -- try not to read your presentation. You know your stuff and if you miss a section, only you know that. Take a glass of water with you as in your nervousness, your mouth can go dry. Trust me, I've been there.

10. Try to end on a high note, with a call to action. Avoid sales pitches throughout the talk as nothing turns people off more than feeling they are just being sold somehting. Have information available if people want to learn more. Attach your business card, so they know how to contact you.

11. Once you've written your speech out in full, break it down into bullet points so it fits on one page. You don't want to be standing at a podium flicking pages and losing your place.

12. Practice, practice, practice.

"Break a leg," I am sure you will be awesome.