TMCnet Feature
December 06, 2019

Donna Lea Jones' Tips for Successful Public Speaking

Public speaking can be an extremely nerve-wracking task for many people. However, sooner or later you will be in a position where you must speak in front of an audience. Whether you’re a high school student in a speech competition or a businesswoman who is a keynote speaker at an upcoming global conference, the same rules apply. A successful speech is captivating, informative, and executed with charisma. Donna Lea Jones is a professional sales representative based in Orlando, Florida. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 23 years and has won numerous awards throughout her career. Thus, she is no stranger to giving speeches and speaking in front of potential customers or high level executives. Below, Donna Lea Jones outlines her top three tips for successfully speaking to an audience.

Rehearse Your Speech

Donna Lea Jones asserts that a common mistake many people make is to only run through the speech in their head. Saying a speech out loud is a vastly different experience than saying it in your head. The only way to truly prepare for a speech is by practicing the speech aloud. The reason for this is that words come out differently depending on whether they are read in one’s head or said verbally. In some cases, a sentence might seem fine when you read it in your head but comes out clumsily when said out loud. Perhaps the sentence is too long, or there are words that you may struggle to pronounce. Practicing your speech in advance is the only way to become aware of such issues, providing you with enough time to address and fix them. In addition, Jones notes that most people deliver speeches while standing up. Be sure to practice your speech in the exact same position you will be when it comes time to deliver. For example, if you plan on reciting the speech from memory, meaning your hands will be free, practice the speech this way. Pick up on whether you begin to fidget or engage in any nervous gestures when your hands aren’t holding onto your laptop or papers. Similarly, note if your posture is poor while standing. These are all aspects of public speaking that make a difference to the delivery of your speech, and how the audience will receive it.

Remember to Slow Down

One of the most frequent mistakes made in public speaking is that the person speaks too quickly. This is a natural reaction to being nervous, as the person simply wants to leave the stage quickly. However, with practice, you can avoid this common error. According to Donna Lea Jones, the best way to figure out if you’re talking too quickly or not is to rehearse your speech aloud and record yourself. When you listen to the recording, you’ll be able to tell almost instantly if the pace at which you are speaking is too fast. Continue recording yourself the next few times you practice your speech. If necessary, compare the recordings side by side in order to ensure you’ve slowed down. If you’re still not sure whether your pace is optimal, consider sharing the recording with a friend or family member you trust and getting their opinion. Ultimately, the key to a good speech is balance, shares Donna Lea Jones. You don’t want to speak so quickly that the audience can’t understand what you’re saying, but you also don’t want to speak so slowly that people get bored and their attention shifts away from the purpose of the presentation.

Pare Down the Content of Your Speech

Many public speakers try to cram as much information as possible into their speech. Although you might feel like you want to say as much as you can in the time frame you’ve been given, the result is often a convoluted speech that the audience doesn’t end up taking much from. Instead, Donna Lea Jones recommends paring down your speech and only including the most important and relevant points. In order to do this, she urges all speech givers to write multiple drafts of a speech. The first draft is typically the longest (which in most cases, is too long). Read through your first draft and highlight the most important information that your speech is about. From there, write a second draft while focused of shortening the length. Your second draft is likely to be a lot more “to the point” than the first and will present your message better. If you’re struggling with determining what the most important information is, Donna Lea Jones suggests thinking of your audience. Considering factors like the age of the audience, the industry that the audience works in, or the city that they live in can all be helpful in deciding what information will relate to them the most, and thus be important to your speech.

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