In our Office Hours series, we recently featured Sandra Fluke, an attorney and candidate for the California Senate. She has advocated for affordable access to health care and reproductive justice, as well as represented victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Being an advocate and a politician, Sandra’s had a lot of practice speaking to large and important crowds. She shared three of her best tips for conquering public speaking with confidence:
1. Master the introduction
It’s normal to have a burst of butterflies when you step onto the stage, but those first moments of your talk are the most critical for engaging your audience. “You’re setting a tone for the entire speech,” Sandra says. She suggests thinking about the first few lines of your talk beforehand so that you can overcome any initial nervousness. By taking time to plan out the beginning, you can be confident that you’ll start out on the right note. One of Sandra’s tricks is to add a note of humor to the talk, as long as you’re comfortable it will come across well.
2. Prepare smooth transitions
When preparing for a speech, it’s easy to decide what you want to address and the main concepts you need to explain. Knowing what you want to cover is necessary, but it’s even more important to decide how you’re going to get from one topic to another. ”What helps a speech to be smooth is the transitions in between,” Sandra says. Instead of imagining your speech as one long piece, Sandra suggests thinking about what you’re going to say as if it’s an outline. This will make you aware of any transitions you need to consider and help you decide how to comfortably navigate your talking points.
3. Conclude strong
It’s always difficult to wrap up a speech in a way that feels natural and effective. Sandra always concludes her talks with a call to action, letting people know what they can do in response to what’s been said. This strategy will ensure you’re getting your message across in an impactful and practical way. You will leave your audience with a sense of what specific action they can take, if they feel so inspired.
Watch Sandra’s full Office Hours clip here, and tell us, what are your best tips and tricks for excelling at public speaking?
Photo: Courtesy of Sandra Fluke