If there is one thing that cannot happen in public speaking, it is the possibility of delivering a perfect presentation. What skills would you need to make your words or your manner of speaking perfect? Can you answer that honestly? Your presentation may be great; it may be excellent; it may be the best you have ever done; but, that doesn’t make it perfect. Perfection is subjective in this particular venue. In fact, any live performance, be it music, theatre, or even in the sports arena, cannot be judged by that one particular word – perfection.
You can type something perfectly; you can build a box perfectly square; and, you can copy a paper perfectly. But trying to accomplish perfection at the lectern is a waste of time. Instead of trying to achieve something that is impossible, might I suggest you strive for excellence? Excellence allows for an occasional mistake; perfection doesn’t.
Mistakes are made in live performances. It is unavoidable. It is normal. It is natural. Just watch or listen to the news on any given day and you will hear a mistake or two. You won’t hear a lot of them, but they do happen. If you think that the only way you can give a great performance is by not making a mistake, then you are placing a pressure on yourself that is unfair – unfair to you as well as your audience.
1. Practice your material out loud on a daily basis so that you know your topic inside and out.
2. Deliver your speech or presentation with color, with life, with animation. Allow your emotion to be seen and to be heard by means of vocal variety, facial expression and body language.
3. Acknowledge all in your audience – not just those in the center but those on the right as well as the left.
4. Believe in yourself. Believe that you will do the best job that you can do and then do it. (If you think you cannot do it, I guarantee you will not!)
5. Breathe – most importantly – breathe and you will discover the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking.
You have enough to worry about when addressing an audience without the added stress of seeking something that is unattainable. What I might consider perfect may not be what you consider perfect. That is what makes it subjective. The sooner you can accept this fact, the better you will be the next time you must give a speech or presentation.