Now sometimes you may have to give a presentation on a topic you don’t like (or, at least, did not choose). However, even then be sure to look at the subject matter from a vantage point that interests you. And, if you can choose what you’re speaking on, be sure it’s something you enjoy, something about which you have curiosity and passion! Excitement is contagious, and people definitely feel whether you have it or not when you present.
As the old saying goes, it’s important to “read the room” before and during your presentation. Knowing your audience beforehand will not only help in understanding how best to communicate to them but also give you insight into what sort of information they will want to hear and/or benefit from hearing.
Adding to this, approach your time as an opportunity to give. After all, that is what public speaking is: an opportunity to give. Fear usually stems from a place where we feel we may potentially lose something as individuals–respect, credibility, etc. By shifting your perspective from that to you giving them something, it not only distracts you from that fear but also makes for a much more compelling listen.
I remember a class presentation I had when I was in college. I had practiced my script to death beforehand, and had it memorized verbatim. The day of presenting came, and I was ready (or so I thought). But then only a couple of paragraphs in to my presentation, another classmate interrupted to tell me how impressed she was by how I was doing (this was music school, so highly non-traditional, haha). Even though she meant well by her interruption, it completely threw me, and I stumbled and fumbled to get back to my “script”, eliciting criticism afterwards for being too “stiff”.
Being prepared is essential, yes. But being married to a “rigid” plan is not. Good communication is always well-thought out but it’s also natural, and flexible to what is needed in the moment, depending on its effectiveness. Hopefully your audience (unlike mine back in college, haha) won’t be interrupting your speech, but do stay aware of how they’re responding (or not) to what you have to say, and adjust accordingly. Allow for space, if need be, as it can be just as powerful as words. Or perhaps include a personal anecdote, if you feel it could lend more warmth and relatability. Again, read the room.
Public speaking is like any muscle that can be strengthened with diligent practice and attentiveness. So keep on practicing, whether it be in communicating to a friend or to a stadium of hundreds. Own whichever platform you’ve been given to occupy, and be sure you have something to give in return. The rest will fall in place.