You’re having that nightmare again. You’re in third grade, about to go on stage to recite your poem, and you realize that you have no recollection of the words…and you’re in your underwear.

Many people have similar anxieties whenever they have to speak in front of a group. And stress heightens when there’s a need to be persuasive. Some tips to get your point across and sway others’ opinions:

Know what you want to  achieve. Plan for your desired outcome. What do you want people to take away? Construct your key points carefully, and build a logical flow from introduction to conclusion.

Know your audience. Know the perspectives and experience of the people in the group. Don’t plan your talk around your frame of reference. Take a walk in their shoes.

Remember KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly). (Yes, it’s supposed to be Stupid, but that just seems so harsh.) Keep your key points few and easy-to-understand. No more than 3 clear, concise statements will be memorable. More than that and your message is mushy.

Use a story. A story that is uncomplicated and 100% geared to your key messages will help people relate and remember.

Use powerful nonverbals. Make eye contact around the room. A relaxed posture is good, but don’t slouch. Lean in toward your audience slightly.

Make your voice work for you. It’s tempting to talk quickly to get stake out your positions. Slow down. Use pauses. (Trust us, a little silence is not only OK, it’s powerful) Vary the volume and pitch of your voice to avoid monotony and help people catch your major points.

And the most important tip of all? Practice, practice, and practice some more, preferably in front of at least one other person who will give you honest, in-your-face feedback. You’ll be glad you did – and so will the people you are going to talk with later.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!