Ag proud in front of a crowd — 7 public speaking tips

Before you take the stage in front of an audience, give these seven simple tips and tricks a read and some thought.

  1. Tailor your message. Find out who your audience is so you can tailor your message and tone to best resonate with them.
  2. Personalize your story. Even though you’ve been provided with a template presentation, make sure to make it your own by weaving in your own connection and feelings about agriculture. You know your story best, so trust yourself and tell your story with passion.
  3. Use key words and images that you identify with. When customizing the PowerPoint presentation, make sure it resonates with you and you understand all the language you’re using. The slide images and messages should act as cues as to what you’re going to say for each slide — this way you don’t have to memorize your presentation.
  4. Feel the flow. Print off your slides and lay them out on a table to get the full picture of your presentation. Ensure it’s in an order that works naturally for you.
  5. Look for friendly eyes. Every audience will have smiling, engaged people in it. Make sure to maintain eye contact with these people throughout your presentation. It will not only calm you down, but also help you connect with the entire room.
  6. Move to relax. Step away from the podium and move around. Even though this may feel strange at first, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone because it will pay off in the end. Moving around will help you shake off the nerves, give you energy and keep your audience engaged.
  7. Get a second set of eyes. Having a trusted person give your presentation a look before you present will help reduce the chance of typos and ensure everything is flowing nicely.

Remember that presentation skills are like exercising a muscle — the more you do it, the stronger you will become. So, seek out opportunities to practice — and, most importantly, have fun!